story by Her Royal Highness Princess Jessica Plum (with a little help from Rolli) , illustrated by Queenie Chan

Learning Intention: 

I can experiment with creating a stereotypical character so that I can compose an increasingly literary text. 

Success Criteria: 

  • I can identify the stereotypical behaviour of a character in an existing text.  
  • I can create a list of stereotypical traits in another stock character.  
  • I can compose an original text based on the stereotypical traits of my stock character. 

Essential knowledge: 

  • More information about creating a fictional character with an identity can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Character. 

Prior to reading, define the term stereotype: a circumstance where a person of thing is judged to be the same as all others of its type (see the NSW English K-10 Glossary for more information). Explain that literature contains many types of stereotypical characters called stock characters. These are characters with instantly recognisable personality traits and looks, that appear across a range of texts. As a class, generate a list of stock characters. Some examples are: the damsel in distress, Prince Charming, the mad scientist, the mean girl, and the Scrooge.  

Provide an overview of the text ‘Princessy’. Explain that it is guide to behaving like a princess, providing ten tips. These ten tips all make fun of stereotypical princess traits. Prior to reading, predict the traits that will be discussed in the story.  

After reading, check the class predictions against the stereotypical traits discussed in the story. If you have a digital subscription you can complete an interactive activity which asks students to summarise the numbered list into short headings. Alternatively, after reading the article, ask students to create a heading for each item on the list (for example: hygiene, table manners, fashion, etc.). 

Ask students to select another stock character from the class list. Then instruct students to come up with a list of ten traits that reflect stereotypical attitudes about this type of character. (The number of traits can be modified to suit student ability). For example, if they chose the Superhero, some of the traits could be: origin story, alter ego, fashion sense, gadgets and powers.  

Once students have generated the traits list for their stock character, ask them to write a body paragraph for each heading. Unpack extracts from ‘Princessy’ as a model text. For each body paragraph, students should follow this structure:  

  • An instruction, ‘When you take a bath … never splash.’ 
  • Extra information that is a bit silly or over the top, ‘You may splish as much as you like.’ 
  • A concluding sentence that reiterates the instruction, ‘Splashing is not princessy.’ 

Extension: students can deliver their list to the class as their stock character. They should think about tone of voice, posture and gestures.