In the Middle of the Mud

story by Beverley Boorer , illustrated by Kerry Millard

Learning Intention:

I am learning to identify each element of a narrative and to use subject specific vocabulary to describe them so that I can experiment with creating my own structurally sound narratives.

Success Criteria:

  • I am learning to identify elements of a narrative.
  • I can use subject-specific vocabulary to describe the elements.
  • I can compose a narrative.
  • I can include the structural elements in my own narrative.


Essential knowledge:


View the video Narrative from the English Textual Concepts. Ensure students note that following the structure of a narrative allows writers to communicate their ideas in a way that is easy for others to understand.


Oral language and communication:


Discuss metalanguage for narratives that students are familiar with, for example, characters, settings, plot.

Display the following opening of a narrative:

Brown Bear looked around his gloomy cave and sighed. Yet again, the table for dinner was set with only one knife, one fork, one plate and one bowl. Just once, it would be nice not to eat alone.

Discuss with students the following questions:

  • What do we know about where the story takes place (ensure students know that this is called the setting, and that the setting refers to the place and time when the story takes place)? (The setting is a gloomy cave, at dinner time)
  • What do we know about Brown Bear? (He lives alone)
  • What challenge is Brown Bear facing? (He is lonely)
  • What is his goal? (To find a companion)
  • What do we call this part of a narrative? (An orientation or an opening)

Discuss the types of information that appears in an orientation. Refer students to the extract on the board and tell them to analyse this if they are unclear. Ensure students note that orientations usually include the setting, the main character and their challenge or goal.

Display the following extract:

That’s it, Brown Bear decided, I’m heading out into the woods to find a friend. Surely someone will have dinner with me. Off he trundled through the thick trees. But every time he got close to an animal, a beaver, a bird or even an ant, they scampered away as fast as they could.

‘This is no use,’ he wailed.

He slumped down on a log, stubbing his toe in the process. A sob bubbled up his chest, and large tears clung to his fur.

Discuss the following questions:

  • What does Brown Bear encounter in the woods? (None of the animals will stay and talk with him)
  • What part of the narrative is this? (The complication)

Discuss elements of the complication, ensuring students note the following:

  • It features increasingly challenging problems for the character in pursuit of their goal
  • It puts pressure on the main character
  • Often characters may feel that all is lost

Display the final extract:

As Brown Bear sat on a log, head in his hands, he heard a rustling next to him. He looked up and he was met with eight shimmering eyes. A spider.

“All other animals run away. Why are you still here?” Brown Bear asked.

“Alas, I have the same problem, my friend. No one wants to hang out with me. They say I’m too creepy,” the Spider said, wiggling his legs as if to prove the point.

“It sure gets lonely, doesn’t it? All I wanted was for someone to join me for dinner,” Brown Bear said.

“Dinner, you say, well that sounds swell. Can I join you?” Spider asked, his cheeks flaming red.

“Why, of course you can. That would be marvelous,” said Brown Bear, smiling widely.

And off the pals went, for their first of many dinners they would spend together.

Discuss the following questions:

  • What part of the narrative is this? (The ending/resolution)
  • What often appears in this part of a narrative? (The character overcomes their challenges and achieves their story goal)


Understanding text:


Inform students that they will be examining a narrative to identify the structural elements.

Place students with a partner and provide them with copies of In the Middle of Mud from the magazine and three different coloured pencils. Place them with a partner and instruct them to highlight the orientation in one colour, the complication in another and the resolution in the third colour. Alternatively, students can use post-it-notes on the original copy of the story in the magazine to identify where each of the elements are.

Ensure students note the following sections:

The orientation:

IT HAD RAINED for a whole week. Now the rain had stopped, and the water had drained away, leaving a lot of mud. Everyone was busy cleaning up.

And the information about each of the characters issues with the rain, including Billy Banger the butcher not being able to sell sausages, Les Loaf, the baker, not being able to deliver bread, Mrs. Sprout, the greengrocer needing to find customers before her onions start sprouting, Tommy not being able to play soccer.

The complication:

When Tommy slips in the mud, when Billy Banger slips too and hurts himself, Les Loaf and Mrs. Sprout slipping over too, Pom Pom dragging Miss Lally in the mud also and them all complaining.

The resolution:

When Tommy tells them to view the mud sliding as a competition and they all cheer up and change their perspective and decide to combine their products to have a sausage sizzle.


Creating text:


Tell students that often before composing a story, writers will plan each of the elements of narratives discussed. Display the following list of elements and discuss these with reference to the story displayed earlier:

  • Character (Brown Bear)
  • Goal (To find a companion to share dinner with)
  • Setting (Bears gloomy cave and the woods)
  • Complications (The animals kept running away from Brown Bear, he stubs his toe on a log)
  • Resolution (A spider, who also the other animals avoid, becomes his friend)

Inform students that they will be composing their own narrative, that follows the structure examined in both the story displayed and In the Middle of Mud. Inform students that authors often use their own lives and surroundings to help them to draw inspiration for narratives. Discuss ideas students relate to, for example a misunderstanding on the playground between two friends and a situation where a student has the opportunity to cheat on a test but must decide whether to do so or not. Discuss students’ ideas.

Place students with a partner and instruct them to discuss the following, reminding them to draw on their own experiences:

  • Character
  • Goal
  • Setting
  • Complications
  • Resolution

Tell students to make notes about their ideas in their workbooks. Instruct students to use their ideas to compose a brief narrative. Students can choose whether to communicate their story as a written text, a comic strip (refer students to Frank Spook, page, 35, issue 1 of Countdown for ideas), or a digital, using programs such as Book Creator. Inform students that the goal is to construct a narrative that features each of the structural elements identified.


Assessment for/as learning:

Allow time for students to compose their narratives before instructing them to share them with their peers. Instruct students to identify each of the structural elements in the work of their peers.

Instruct students to complete the following exit ticket questions to reflect on the learning:

  • What elements do narratives feature?
  • Why is it important to include each of these elements?
  • How do our own lives and surroundings help us draw inspiration for narratives?