Teaching Character Conflict

I've posted about teaching character conflict before, but I have a few updates to share and a NEW free resource for teaching the types of character conflict! Here's a link the original blog post if you are looking for even more ideas.

No matter what grade I'm teaching, I always start off my character lesson the same way: By watching the clip of Anna and Elsa in “For the First Time in Forever.” After we watch it, I ask the students to write down as many words as they can think of to describe Anna and Elsa. Then we talk about the difference between character traits and character feelings and create an anchor chart like the one below. After we've talked about the difference, we sort our descriptive words we came up with into the categories.

Once they have a good handle on this, we are free to move on to the more tricky task of tackling character conflict.  For teaching character conflict, I start off by talking about internal vs. external conflict and what the main difference is. We talk about times we felt conflicted about something. Most of those conflicts end up being man vs. man conflicts, but we discuss what makes their conflicts different.

Character Conflict Anchor Chart

Now, here's the next step that students love so much. Once they know what the four types of conflict are, we watch four different short clips from popular Disney movies. Each of these clips is a great representation of its respective character conflict. I made a short recording sheet for students as well so that they could record their work and write a one-sentence summary that describes the conflict.

You can download the free character conflict printable HERE.

Man vs. Self

Tangled: This is the movie I was watching that prompted me to start using Disney clips to teach character conflict! Poor Rapunzel has just left the tower and is feeling mighty conflicted about what she has done by defying her mother's wishes.  This scene is the perfect example of Man vs. Self conflict.

Click HERE for the clip, though you really only need to let students watch the first minute for them to identify the conflict.

Man vs. Nature

Moana: Moana is determined to see what's beyond the horizon, but nature (the ocean) has different plans.  She struggles to make it past the waves, and this scene is an ideal Man vs. Nature conflict.

Click HERE for the clip. It's less than two minutes long.

Man vs. Man

Frozen: Anna and Elsa disagree about whether or not Elsa should return home. We all know this ends with Elsa striking Anna. This scene easily represents Man vs. Man (or person vs. person, in this case!) conflict.

Click HERE for the clip.

Man vs. Society

Mulan: The emperor needs men, and only men to help him defeat the Huns. Mulan's father is called to war, and when Mulan tries to step up as in his place, she is disgraced.

Click HERE for the clip.

After we are done with this lesson, it's time for them to practice on their own! This is when I have them work through character conflict task cards together. You can see the character conflict task cards HERE.

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