Sample Literature Elements Planning Grid

Completed for Tops & Bottoms by Janet Stevens

Story elements

Concepts and generalizations


Outcome and indicators

Creative related other outcomes and indicators beyond story elements


What does the student need to understand about the story element to use it in a meaningful way?

What could students do to show what they know and what skill they have in using the concept or generalization?

What responses would suggest levels of student understanding and skill for the concept when doing related activities?

What could a student do to creatively apply this concept and skill differently?


The theme is the main idea of the story or the message that the author wants to share with the reader.

Focus question: Most of the author’s ideas in the story focus on what?

Listen to, watch, and read Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens.

Ask students to describe what might be the most important information the author wanted to tell in the story.

Write the theme of the story.

Students explain that if farmers do not work hard to get their seeds planted, there will not be any harvest to last them through the winter.

You need to work hard to (survive) or to get the best out of life.

If you snooze, you loose.

Recall other stories, movies, or songs that have the same or similar theme.


The people, animals, or other objects in the story that think and interact with each other, themselves, the setting, or other objects.

Listen to, watch, or read Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens.

Identify the characters and their personality traits.

Describe how the plot and theme relate to the characters and how the author’s characterization of each benefits the story, plot, and theme.

Identify Bear and Hare as two characters with Hare being the protagonist (main character) and Bear being the antagonist (conflicting character).

The author uses each character to compare and contrast the idea of a strong and weak work ethic and motivation or lack of motivation to provide for oneself and family.

Explain how the fictional characters Bear and Rabbit have characteristics that are similar and different to real bears and rabbits.

Compare the drawings or pictures of the characters in the book to drawings and pictures of real animals and make statements or ask questions about similarities and differences.

Describe in music or drama how differently the character Bear and Hare would animate the character created by the author.


The physical place and the time the story happens or is meant to happen.

Listen to, watch, or read Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens.

Iidentify the physical place and the time the story happens or is meant to happen.

Identify the physical setting as farm country with definite seasonal changes in fantasy time or any time.

Compare the illustrations in the book to those of similar or different geographical regions, climates, farms, gardens, or specific plants or parts of plants or earth features in both the story and real world.

Plot – problem, rise and fall of the story, climax, and  resolution

The rise and fall of a story that keeps the listener or reader motivated to continue. It usually includes a problem, climax, and solution.

Additionally many stories have a rise in action through the introduction of a series of problems between characters until the rise of action and series of problems reaches a peak or climax which is usually followed by a resolution or solution.

Listen to, watch, or read Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens.

Iidentify the initial problem between Bear and Hare. How Hare through a series of planned tricks causes Bear to realize that Hare is smarter than he is and willing to take advantage of the less intelligent and less motivated to do physical farm labor. However, survival causes him to allow Hare to manipulate him further so that he can be just like Hare.

Problem – Bear is lazy and doesn’t like to do work while Hare is poor and is concerned for his families well being.

Student identify pictures in the book that illustrates the different work ethics.

Conflict - Hare and Bear try to trick each other.

Hare plans three ways to trick Bear by sharing the harvest. First he he lets Bear choose what he wants, tops or bottoms. Bear chooses tops so he can have all of the tops and Hare would get the bottoms. So Hare plants carrots and other vegetables with roots so he gets the good stuff at the bottom. He continues doing this with bottoms being chosen next, and then finally telling Bear he can have both, tops and bottoms, and he plants crops so he will take the middles - corn.

Climax - Bear decides he needs to do the work himself.

Solution - Bear does all the work and gets to keep the tops, bottoms, and middles. Once Hare has saved up enough money, he buys his own land and is now able to take care of his family.

Imagine a visual representation of the story in their mind.

What is happening that the character needs to fix by the end of the story?

Imagining, visualizing, sequencing, and remembering, particular parts of the story and/ or particular parts of pictures, organize the story in a manner so as to be able to judge what parts of the story are best included for a good retelling or plot summary of the story.

Compare the types of plants along with the location of their food parts to what Hare keeps and shares with Bear for the different crops such as corn, carrots, potatoes, lettuce, cabbage, and turnips…

Compare the trick that Hare used on Bear to the title of the story and see the humor in it.


Created from this style element

The feeling the reader or listener has about the story and the characters relationship to it.

The author and illustrator uses certain characterisitcs to tell the story or illustrate it to create a tone or feeling that supports the story.

How does the reader or listener feel about the story of the characters?


What specifically was in the illustrations or text that was used by the author or illustrator to create the tone or feelings?

Students explain ...

How would you describe a character if you wanted to present a tone of ...

Value or aesthetic responses.

In what ways was it interesting or meaningful?


What was your favorite part of the story?


How would you end the story if you were the author?


Where have you had the same kinds of experiences?


Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes
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