Teaching Point of View

When we think about point of view, we immediately think of 1st person or 3rd person.  But this is only the beginning of the journey for our students.  Standard RL.6 can be a difficult standard to teach.  In second grade, students are expected to use different voices for the different characters in a text.  At a glance, this doesn’t seem very difficult, but when we take a closer look, it involves a lot more. 

This standard requires students to analyze the character before determining how their voice should be read.  What is the character like (traits)?  What is the character feeling?  How would the character say something in response to an event or another character’s actions or words?  How should one character’s voice be different than that of another's?  That’s a lot to consider for a second grader, and a lot to consider as a third grade teacher when bridging standards from one grade level to another. 

Since understanding point of view is dependent on students’ analysis of the character’s traits, feelings, motives, and responses to other characters or the events that take place, naturally it would make sense to incorporate Literature Standard .3 when teaching point of view.  This is where we have opportunities not only to bridge grade level expectations, but to weave together other standards in our approach.  With the right text and guidance, we can make use of every opportunity to engage students in bridging their understanding of these standards as they go deeper with the text.  The following are a couple of approaches I have found conducive to successfully doing this, including how to select the perfect read aloud that lends itself to teaching POV.

Using Narrative Poems 

Using a narrative poem like Shel Silverstein’s Crocodile’s Toothache is a perfect example.  It has a topic with which most students can relate: going to the dentist or having a toothache.  It has a speaker that tells the story, and it has a lot of dialogue and action between two very animated characters: the evil dentist who has no consideration for the crocodile’s feelings and the crocodile who is in agony and at the mercy of the evil dentist. 

This is my copy of the poem as we highlight the different characters' dialogue and the speakers' narration.  After practicing reading the poem, Students complete the character traits, feelings, and motives activity and the POV activity shown here. 

It’s humorous. It’s of high interest to students.  It’s easy to analyze the characters' traits, feelings, and motives by what they say or do.  More importantly, students can take it to the next level by making connections with the crocodile's situation and making inferences about the characters’ points of view regarding the value of teeth (the dentist plucks away at them as if they don't matter, while the crocodile cherishes them for obvious crocodile reasons).  With this understanding, students can also determine their own point of view based on their own experiences and feelings about their teeth or visits to the dentist.

I can’t express how much I value the use of narrative poetry to organically weave together these learning targets so seamlessly.  
  • Students can begin by using character maps to analyze characters to determine their traits and feelings.
  • They can use these inferences about their traits and feelings to interpret the voices and expressions they will use while reading the characters’ dialogue.
  • They can also interpret the speaker’s voice/expression by paying close attention to repetitive words, onomatopoeia or punctuation. 
  • Students can consider the characters’ traits, feelings, motives and responses to a situation to help them determine the characters’ point of view or perspective about the situation.
  • They can make text-to-self connections with the crocodile and his predicament to determine their own point of view. 
Try it out in your classroom.  Click here for my free resource that goes with this poem. 
activities for teaching point of view and perspective, free download, poems

The Relatable Read Aloud

Another approach I use to introduce point of view to my third graders is the relatable read aloud.  When we offer our students stories that are fun, of high interest, or are about a topic with which they can easily relate, students get it.  In third grade, students not only have to determine a character’s or narrator’s point of view, they have to ask themselves whether they agree or disagree with either of these perspectives.  This means they have to evaluate the point of view of the character or narrator based on their own experiences, beliefs, values, feelings, or attitudes about the topic or situation presented in the story.  This brings RL.6 to a higher level of thinking, especially since we expect students to justify why

When students can naturally connect with a text because they can easily relate to the topic or story situation, or they can make connections with the character's experience in the story, it makes this expectation much more tangible for them.  If we begin with these types of texts, students are better equipped to express their perspective and why they agree or disagree with the character's or narrator's point of view based on their own experiences, beliefs, values, feeling, or attitudes.

For a copy of these freebie activities to use in your classroom, click here.  These samples are part of my POV resource that is jam-packed with over thirty rigorous and engaging activities intentionally designed to teach point of view using five fun mentor texts specifically selected to explore this topic.


Some read aloud recommendations that are ideal for introducing point of view and assisting students' success with these expectations are:
The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt
I Wanna Iguana, by Karen Kaufman Orloff
Hey, Little Ant, by Phillip & Hannah Hoose
The Ant Bully, by Jouhn Nickel
Three Hens and a Peacock, by Lester L. Laminack 

Below are a few things to consider when seeking out other story titles that could work just as well.

Teaching Point of View & Perspective
For engaging, no-prep activities to teach point of view and perspective, please visit my store for this resources.