story by Elizabeth Williams , illustrated by Sylvia Morris

Learning Intention:


I am learning to examine character development so that I can develop a text to show how a character has changed.


Success Criteria:


  • I can analyse a character and plot their development.
  • I can consider how a character might act differently after they have grown and developed.
  • I can develop a story to reveal how a character has changed.


Essential knowledge:


View the video Character from the English Textual Concepts. Discuss the main ideas in the video, ensuring students note the following:

  • That characters in stories have their own unique personalities, emotions, wants and feelings
  • What happens to characters drives the action in narratives
  • Characters usually have a motive or goal


Oral language and communication:

Discuss characters that are familiar to students either from a class text read recently or well-known literary figures such as Harry Potter or Charlie from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Discuss the characteristics of one of the characters at the outset of the story, for example Charlie in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory who is nervous and unsure of himself, hopeful of winning a ticket. Discuss how Charlie changes throughout the story by becoming confident and excited about winning the chocolate factory.

Inform students that this is called character development. Remind students that stories are about characters pursuing a goal. As part of pursuing a goal, characters will often grow and change.


Understanding text:

Read Nandi or listen to the audio file if you have a digital subscription.

Identify the two characters in the text, Bafana and Nandi the elephant. Discuss Bafana’s character at the following points in the story:

  • The beginning (Inexperienced about caring for elephants but shows kindness towards Nandi)
  • The middle (Bafana doesn’t believe Nandi will leave even when Father says so)
  • The end (Becomes a ranger and understands that elephants belong to the wild)

Use a character line to plot this growth. Begin by drawing a horizontal line across the board. Above the left-hand side of the line write ‘beginning’. On the right, write ‘End’ and in the middle write ‘Middle’.

On the left, describe Bafana’s character at the beginning of the story (Inexperienced, compassionate). In the middle of the line, describe what Bafana’s character is like in the middle of the story (Doesn’t believe Nandi will leave). On the right-hand side, write words to describe Bafana at the end of the story (Confident, a park ranger, experienced, understands elephants belong to the wild).

Place students with a partner and instruct them to repeat this process, this time noting how Nandi’s character grows and changes. Tell them to record their answers using a character line.

Sample responses include:

  • Beginning: Nervous, hesitant to feed, exhausted and hungry
  • Middle: Growing in confidence, enjoys playing with other elephants, reluctant to go into the river but she enjoys it once Hattie encourages her
  • End: A fully grown elephant with her own herd


Emphasise that both characters begin the story by acting nervous and unsure and by the end of the story both become confident and experienced adults.


Creating text:

Refer back to the end of the story and discuss what happens (Nandi and Bafana meet each other and recognise their old friends). Tell students that they will be developing the story to show further interaction between the two characters.

Tell students to imagine that Nandi needs Bafana’s help. Discuss potential reasons for this, for example, another elephant is hurt, or poachers are encroaching on Nandi’s land. Discuss how Bafana might have reacted to this situation based on her personality at the beginning of the story, for example, at this stage Bafana might have been nervous or unsure and would have looked to others such as Nomsa for guidance.

Discuss how Bafana may act now they are more experienced, for example, Bafana might take control of the situation and be confident enough to solve it themselves. Tell students that they should strive to show how both characters will be more confident.

Inform students that they will be creating a brief, three-part story that reveals the way both characters have changed and that shows them overcoming a challenge together. Remind students that their story should show the characters as more confident and experienced than their former selves.

Tell students that they will be using a comic strip to communicate their story. Briefly discuss potential plot ideas and how these might be divided into three clear sections. For example:

Section 1: Nandi takes Bafana to see the damage poachers have done to the herd

Section 2: Bafana waits for the poachers and stands up to them when they arrive

Section 3: The poachers retreat, and the herd are happy that Bafana has saved them


Refer to the cartoon at the end of the story (Page 30) and discuss how the illustrator has communicated the ideas. Ensure students note that they have used speech bubbles and illustrations. Tell students that while this cartoon uses only one frame, they will be creating a three-frame comic. Remind students that they can also use thought bubbles in comics to express the character’s thoughts and feelings.

Instruct students to divide a piece of plain paper into three sections. Tell them to discuss their ideas with a partner before sketching the stages of a story. Instruct students to add text in the form of speech bubbles and thought bubbles. Students may use coloured pencils or create their comic digitally using programs such as Toontastic 3D or PowToon Edu.


Assessment for/as learning:

Display the comics around the room and instruct students to conduct a gallery walk, examining the work of their peers.

Instruct students to select one of the comics and to use Peer Feedback strategies such as the Two-Stars and a Wish strategy to identify two elements where their peer has done well and one area where their work might be developed further.

Note: Ensure each student chooses a different comic to provide feedback on so that all students receive feedback.

Allow time for students to provide oral feedback on the comics to each other.