12 Helpful Character Traits Anchor Charts for Elementary and Middle School ELA Classes

Dig deep and really get to know the characters.

Character traits anchor chart examples for teachers

Learning to identify and understand character traits, inside and out, can help readers improve their overall comprehension. When kids are young, character traits are often spelled out clearly in the text. As they progress to more advanced reading though, they’ll need to learn to make inferences from dialogue and actions. Post these character traits anchor charts to help your students know what to look for as they read.

1. Inside and Outside

Anchor chart showing a cartoon girl divided in half, with physical traits and personality traits (Character Traits Anchor Charts)

This inside/outside poster is one of the most popular character traits anchor charts out there. If you’re not up for the artwork, grab a free printable here instead.

Source: Heidi Roberts/Pinterest

2. Actions and Dialogue

Character Traits anchor chart noting that readers look for traits through action and dialogue

Remind students that they’ll have to look deep into the text to learn about the characters, including analyzing what they say and do.

Learn more: Actions and Dialogue/ELA Anchor Charts

3. Emotions vs. Traits


Anchor chart comparing character emotions and traits

It’s important for kids to be able to separate emotions, which are temporary, from traits, which are ongoing. This chart provides two great questions students can ask themselves as they read.

Learn more: Teacher Trap


4. Says, Does, Thinks, Feels

Character Traits anchor chart with two cartoon children; text reads "says, does, thinks, feels" and a list of character traits

If students keep in mind four things while they read—what characters think, do, say, and feel—they’ll find it easier to tease out the traits of each one. This is a nice anchor chart for elementary students.

Learn more: Teaching With Simplicity

5. Feelings, Dialogue, Actions, Thoughts

Character traits anchor chart discussing feelings, dialogue, actions, and thoughts

Middle and high school students can benefit from character traits anchor charts too. We like the clean look and detailed examples on this one.

Learn more: Upper Elementary Snapshots


FAST Character Traits Anchor Chart: Feelings, Actions, Sayings, Thoughts

The FAST acronym is one more way to remember how to analyze a character’s traits. Help your students make their own character traits anchor charts using this format for a book you’re currently reading as a class.

Learn more: Smiles and Sunshine

7. Character Traits and Antonyms

Character Traits and Antonyms anchor chart

If kids are having trouble finding the words they want for identifying more subtle traits, try this antonym chart. It’s a good way to note that most characters are a mix of positive and negative traits too.

Learn more: Crafting Connections

8. Characters Can Change

Anchor chart about character change over time, including physical and mental traits (Character Traits Anchor Charts)

As if character traits aren’t complicated enough, many characters change and grow over time. Encourage students to be on the lookout for these developments as they read.

Learn more: Characters Can Change/ELA Anchor Charts

9. Characters Have Feelings Too

Child adding sticky notes to an anchor chart labeled Characters Have Feelings, Too

Although feelings and emotions are different than traits themselves, they can help us learn more about character details. For instance, if a character often feels happy when they share with others, one of their traits might be “generous.”

Learn more: Miss DeCarbo

10. I Know This Because …

Kid President character trait anchor chart including traits and reasons (Character Traits Anchor Charts)

It’s vital that kids be able to give examples that demonstrate the traits they’ve identified. If they say a character is a strong leader, they should be able to point to places in the text where the character’s actions back that up. This chart requires kids to give both traits and examples by filling in the blank, “I know that because …”

Learn more: Around the Kampfire

11. Grow Ideas About a Character

Grow Ideas About a Character anchor chart (Character Traits Anchor Charts)

For kids having trouble digging deeper into more complicated texts to identify traits, try this chart. It provides useful questions and prompts to help students think their way through the reading.

Learn more: Crafting Connections/Pinterest

12. Readers Workshop

Character Traits anchor chart for Camilla Cream in A Bad Case of Stripes

We love the idea of having kids create their own character traits anchor charts during a readers workshop. Learn how one teacher does it at the link.

Learn more: Mrs. Patton’s Class

Looking for more ideas? Check out 40 Must-Have Anchor Charts for Teaching Writing.

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12 Helpful Character Traits Anchor Charts For Elementary and Middle School ELA Classes