To begin, the teacher dons an apron and produces the cook pot and spoon and tells the students they are going to make story stew. Explain that a good story is like stew -- it has lots of ingredients. Reach into the pot and pull out an index card on which you have written "characters." Explain that characters are "Who is the story about?" Mention familiar stories and ask students to tell you who the characters are. Reach into the pot and pull out another index card on which you have written "setting." Explain to students that the setting is "When and where the story happens." Mention familiar stories and ask students to identify the setting. Reach into the pot and produce a final index card on which you have written "plot." Explain that plot is "What happens in the story." Mention familiar stories and ask students to briefly explain the plot. After this introduction, read a story of your choice to the students. (I like to use "Officer Buckle and Gloria" by Peggy Rathmann, but any story with few characters, a well-defined setting, and a simple plot will suffice.) After reading the story, ask the students to identify the characters. Write them on an index or recipe card and drop it into the cook pot. Stir it up. Then ask students to identify the setting and the plot in the same manner. After stirring up the "ingredients," reach into the pot and produce a photocopy of the cover of the story you just read.
Follow-up ideas: Ask students to create their own "story stew" by having them make up characters, a setting, and a brief plot description and writing it on a recipe card. Then have them develop a story using their elements. Or, for a center idea, provide recipe cards with story elements written on them and let students choose one to write a story about.
If you use "Officer Buckle and Gloria" as your story, give students a star-shaped cut-out and ask them to write and illustrate a safety tip on it.