Analyzing the Characters
Ongoing Activity
Grades 6–12
Language Arts
Individual, Small Group, Large Group, Out of Seat


Students will have a greater understanding of the characters and their relation to other characters.


This activity can be done by students individually, in small groups, or the class as a whole. Either a character web or a simple chart can be used. This activity uses a graphic organizer to help students to understand the motivations of characters—the factors that have shaped characters. Other minor characters, such as the vultures or Doubletree Mutt, may be added.

Materials Needed/Preparation

  • Characters Organizer (optional)
  • Large sheet of butcher paper (optional, for working together as an entire class)
  • Sample Character Web (optional)
  • If done as a character web, students need to have prior instruction in how to create a character web
  • The Red Pony notebooks

Estimated Time

  • 1 class period
  • 5-10 minutes for multiple class periods (if done as an ongoing activity)


  • Distribute chart (optional).
  • If using a character web, review character webs. Distribute character web sample (optional).
  • Choose one character and, with class participation, model how to complete the chart/character web. If doing this activity on an ongoing basis, or as a large group, single period activity, consider modeling on a large sheet of butcher paper (this can remain up throughout the unit).
  • ~Start with the simple, objective facts (physical description, age, etc.).
  • ~Move into more subjective descriptions (personality, attitudes, fears, etc.).
  • ~Finish with how the character relates to others and their role in the novel.
  • For a one-day activity:
  • ~Have students work individually or in small groups to complete the chart or character web.
  • ~Or continue to complete the chart or character web as a class. Use student participation and input.
  • ~Each student should create and keep a completed copy of the chart or character web, even if done as a group activity.
  • ~If done individually or in small groups, allow time at the end of the class period for each group to share to the class.
  • For an ongoing activity:
  • ~Post the chart or character web on the wall.
  • ~During discussions of the reading, add to the chart or character web when important discoveries have been made. Consider allowing students to come up and do this.
  • ~Each student should create and keep a completed copy of the chart or character web, adding to it as the unit continues.

Post Activity/Takeaways/Follow-up

Post Activity

  • Ask students to predict what may happen in the novel based on what they have discovered about the characters. (Consider keeping a record of these predictions to follow up on later.)


  • Trust is an important theme in The Red Pony. Students should be aware of how trust influences the relationships between characters.
  • How are the relationships between characters similar to relationships the students have experienced (parent-child, friend, mentor, etc.)?
  • Students should come away from this exercise with more understanding of the characters and how they interact.


  • When appropriate, go back to student predictions to see if those predictions came true. Discuss why or why not.


  • How thoroughly did the student(s) examine the character and his/her connections to other characters?
  • Points for maintaining a copy of the chart or character web.
  • Quiz on the characters (based on the student findings).
  • ~The quiz could be to create a table or an identity chart for a character or characters.
  • ~The quiz could be strictly factual (e.g. “Who is Billy Buck?” and so on).

Common Core State Standards Met

  • Reading Standards for Literature 6-12
  • ~Key Ideas and Details: 1, 3
  • ~Craft and Structure: 5
  • Speaking and Listening Standards 6-12
  • ~Comprehension and Collaboration: 1

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