The Setting of a Story: Using Setting Maps

By Rebecca Ray

Find this Common Core aligned resource and more like it in our Elementary School, Middle School ELA, and High School ELA Categories!

Have you ever felt frustrated by a story that seems to jump all over the place? Or struggling to keep up with action that moves from place to place? Think of how our students feel when they read complex novels with multiple characters and settings, it can be even more confusing for them. One way that teachers can aid students is through setting and character mapping. With these simple template storyboards, readers will be able to keep settings and characters well sorted, and they'll have their maps on hand for papers or test review!

Create a Setting Map  

Setting Map Lesson Plan

Overview of the Lesson

Many define setting in literature as both the location and time, or the where and when, of a narrative. Settings can play a crucial role in a work and are often central to the plot. It is helpful for students to map them out to avoid confusion about what is taking place. This is especially true with stories that have multiple settings or timelines.

Grade Level: 3-12


Although this lesson can be used for multiple grade levels, below are examples of the Common Core State Standards for Grades 9-10. Please see your Common Core State Standards for the correct, grade-appropriate strands.

Time: 10 Minutes for Each Setting

Lesson Specific Essential Questions

  1. How does a story mimic or reflect the setting it takes place in?
  2. How can a setting affect us internally and externally?
  3. How can a setting foreshadow actions that will take place?


Students will be able to create a setting map that discusses the key action that took place and how the setting foreshadowed the action.

Before Reading

Before reading it is a good idea to broadly define the setting of a story for students in terms of time and place. Background research may be helpful to students if they are unfamiliar with the customs of the period or region.

During Reading

While reading, students can track the setting and how it changes through a setting map. A key feature of a setting map is placement of settings in sequence. Being able to visually see the settings helps students remember events and where they take place. After each setting, students should update their map to reflect the actions that took place, the setting’s features, and any predictions they can make based on what has happened so far.

As an assignment, students should create a storyboard that depicts one setting in each cell and explains the setting in detail. They could also find a quote that describes it from the text and incorporate a summary of important characters, conflicts, or actions that took place there.

With Storyboard That's extensive art library, it’s easy for students to edit these templates and show the events, actions, and foreshadowing they see when they read!

Setting Map Example

Teachers Note

When I created this template, I had in mind that teachers would take these and make them their own. I spoke to Ms. Shipes, a 9-12 English teacher in Alabama who uses our product. She used the setting map template below and edited the text boxes to ask more specific questions about each setting. Using this in a co-taught class, she wanted to give the students guided notes so as not to overwhelm them with a box to fill out. Seeing other teachers taking these ideas and making them their own is so exciting, I can't wait to see what YOU do!

Create a Setting Map  

Create Setting Worksheets

If you're looking for another step or an alternative assignment, you can create setting map worksheets to use in your class! These worksheets can be customized and printed out for students to fill out with a pencil, or they can be completed in the Storyboard Creator like a digital worksheet. They're helpful to keep in binders for test review! You can even create multiple versions for those students who might need a little extra help, and keep them on hand for future use! Find plenty of templates to work from or just start with a blank canvas.

Example Rubric

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