Teaching Mood and Tone

Teaching mood and tone in writing can be SO tricky. Here I’m sharing the short lesson I use to teach my students about mood and tone so that they really GET it!

Mood and tone are such abstract ideas for elementary-age students. In the past I’ve struggled to teach it in a way that really sticks, but after lots of trial and error, I think I’ve found a winner! Here’s my quick lesson from start to finish.

1. Interactive notes

If you know me at all, you know that my classroom revolves around interactive notebooks. The first step for any new concept in my room is to get it into those interactive notebooks. We use a simple Mood and Tone Flipbook (that you can download for free by clicking HERE!) with lots of discussion and examples.

mood and tone

2. Model

Next, I model how a change in mood or tone can COMPLETELY change a piece of text. I take a simple paragraph from a novel (usually our class read aloud) and write it on the board. Then, as a class we add adjectives to change the mood or tone. (I usually start with an easy mood like cheerful)

3. Partner Practice

This is my FAVORITE part of the lesson. I have my students partner up or get into groups. I write a bare-bone short story on the board. No details, no adjectives.

mood and tone

I then give each group a different mood on a sticky note. Each group must rewrite the story from the board using the mood they were given. They have to use the same basic events that I wrote on the board, but can add as many details as they want to create their mood! I give them moods like romantic, solemn, eerie, cheerful, etc.

Students have a set amount of time to work together and write their stories. Then, each group shares their story with the class, and their classmates have to guess what the mood is. My students almost always guess correctly because of the details and adjectives included!

mood and tone examples

This lesson is short, but SO powerful. This allows my students to truly understand how much the mood and tone of a story can change with added details and descriptive language.

I am so excited for you try this lesson in your classroom! As always, I hope to help make each day in the classroom more meaningful for you and your students.

Happy teaching!

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