Teaching Tone and Mood - Lesson Plan and Video

Tone and Mood

How are TONE and MOOD different?

  • TONE is the author's attitude
  • MOOD is the reader's feelings

Are the two interchangeable? No. However, the two can overlap within a narrative. Regardless, the words that evoke Tone and Mood are usually the same - keyword here is usually.

This would be a good time to bring up DENOTATIVE and CONNOTATIVE meanings.

The word WIMPY is connotative - this reminded me of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid

What does denotative and connotative mean?

  • DENOTATIVE is the dictionary meaning of a word
  • CONNOTATIVE is the secondary meaning - with tone and attitude


Think about it this way, it's not always what you say, but how you say it.

For example, imagine I have a really slender student named Greg.


  • Denotative - Greg is a thin boy.
  • Connotative - Dang! Greg is scrawny!


What is the author's tone when he says Greg is scrawny? The author feels Greg is wimpy and weak. Whereas in the denotative sentence, Greg is simply thin.


Tips for remembering... (can be clicked to enlarge)

A character's point of view.

In literary terms tone and mood are a separate, but overlapping entity from characterization. However, can a character display tone? Sure! How about mood? Definitely! Just remember that if you are tested on tone or mood it will be about the author's tone and your mood - unless specified differently.

Characterization is an important element in understanding the overall tone and mood in a narrative. I adamantly encourage my students to connect with the characters in a narrative. I tell them to imagine themselves as the character's best friend. A best friend that feels, worries and cheers on their buddy. This prompts them to emotionally connect with the character. In turn they can personify the character's mood within themselves. Thus, analyzing mood. Who'smood? The character's mood.

This same strategy works for tone as well. Characterization involves analyzing relationships, conflicts and motivations. It is the character's attitude, that defines the outcome in each of those areas. Thus, analyzing tone. Who's tone? The character's tone.

Therefore, analyzing characterization will help the reader connect with tone and mood.

The goal? Having the reader connect, analyze and interpret all three viewpoints - the author's, the character's and the reader's point of view..

Visualization - Picturing Tone and Mood

i am a FIRM believer that a reader needs to visualize the text. Many struggling readers tell me, "why can't we just watch a movie?". This is what prompted me to create my Tone and Mood video a few years ago. I needed to help them visually connect with the text. I tell my students that the beauty of reading is that they get to produce the movie within their own mind.

Materials and Set-up;

  • video access / projector
  • blank paper for foldable - or create your own (8 columns with 8 headers; scared, angry, sad, confused, mean, romance, friendship and happy - a sample is pictured at the end of this hub)
  • list of tone and mood words - a sample is pictured at the end of this hub
  • Create a gallery wall - cut 8 pieces of chart paper with the following titles for each; scared, angry, sad, confused, mean, romance, friendship and happy. If possible, add a face or picture next to the title. The face or image should depict each emotion. Tape the chart paper to the wall in different areas of the room.

note; Basic tone and mood categories are happy, angry and sad. I have added the following sub-categories; confused, mean, romance and friendship. Let me explain my reasoning, Mean is an effect of being angry. Therefore, I have added mean and the other elements as an opportunity to include characterization. Why? Tone and mood affects character analysis and in turn supports reading comprehension.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  1. Tell the students they are going to WATCH a video of words. Each word has a picture symbolizing the emotion. I have embedded my video for you. I created this video with images and sound. These elements add emphasis to the emotional meaning of the word.
  2. Play the video (the length is just under 5 minutes)
  3. Discuss the video and the words with your students. What did you like? Can you identify with these words? Did the pictures make sense? Did the music help? Then ask students if they think they can apply visualization when they read. Do you see or feel emotions when you read? Can you picture the settings? Do you see the character's faces? What type of body language shows emotion? Remind your students that they will need to learn to apply their own sensory details when they read.
  4. Now that you have guided the students through a discussion - ask them if they would like to see the video again. This time instruct them to actively look at the word first and the picture second. This will help them prepare for the next step. 
  5. After the second viewing of the video - place the students in groups and hand them the list of tone and mood words and the foldable. Have them write the words from the list into the appropriate columns. Challenge them to add at least three new words to each column by using a thesaurus.
  6. Divide the class into 8 groups. Place one group per gallery wall. Give each group 1 minute to place the appropriate words on their gallery wall. After one minute have them rotate to the next gallery wall and repeat the process. Repeat this until the gallery chart paper is filled with the various words. Have one volunteer from each group identify new words that were added from the thesaurus. Discuss what they learned.
  7. Homework assignment. Students are to find images in newspapers or magazines which symbolize each portion of the gallery wall. Have students glue the images to the appropriate list on the gallery wall.

Ideas - If you have the room to keep the gallery wall up the whole year then go for it! As the year rolls along and students identify new words they can add to the list. This will promote continued awareness and development. You will see their awareness grow with each novel and short story that you read.

Tone and Mood list (click to enlarge)

permission to right click and save image - not for commercial distribution
permission to right click and save image - not for commercial distribution

Tone and Mood Foldable (click to enlarge)

permission to right click and save image - not for commercial distribution
permission to right click and save image - not for commercial distribution

Tone and Mood Wind Chimes

  • Choose FOUR primary mood titles
  • write the titles on four separate index cards and add a hole punch to the bottom of the card - colored cards make this especially appealing
  • tape the cards end to end - tape the last two ends together - forming an open cube
  • cut four pieces of yarn, ribbon or string - attach one to each card - attach by looping into the hole punch and tying a knot or taping or gluing to the inside
  • on smaller index cards - write the words that correspond to the four primary cards - attach them to the string and work your way down
  • Use fishing line to hang your new wind chime

Facial Word chains

  • draw or print the faces of the three primary tone and mood words; happy, angry and sad on three separate pages of heavy cardstock. Attach one loop of paper to the bottom of the card stock - I use a stapler and then I cover the stapled area with a small glue strip for reinforcement
  • cut out 2" by 8" colored strips of paper. Write the corresponding tone and mood words on the colored strips. Loop the end of a word strip through the original loop and glue or staple the ends together - begin building a word chain with the appropriate words. Students can add to the chain as they discover new words.



MissOlive's hubs are written and published by,
marisa hammond olivares, copyright 2011
All rights reserved.

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Comments 22 comments

kimh039 profile image

kimh039 5 years ago

Thanks missolive. These ideas are good for therapy groups on the importance of feeling identification and expression too. It would be important for a writer to be able to recognize his/her own feelings and moods - and keep them separate from the characters' feelings and moods; ie, know whose is whose. Thanks for the vocabulary lesson too:) I love the extra visual touches on this hub, especially the video.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

Wow! Didn't expect this from the title-not sure, but I was associating tone with music. I enjoyed it and found it very interesting and useful-thanks!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, as kim said, these are great for therapy groups and college students learning, and I learned two new words today! Denotation and connotation, I had heard of connotation before, but not it its right context. thanks, nell


missolive profile image

missolive 5 years ago from Texas Author

Kim, Denise and Nell, thank you for stopping by and leaving great comments.

Denise - I love the fact that you associated this with tone in music. My daughter is a music major. As for me, I couldn't carry a tune in a bucket. :)

Kim and Nell, I had never thought of "therapy groups", but it is a great idea. Actually, in a way, I am already doing "therapy groups".

I work with struggling readers (and multiple discipline issues) and I like to choose character building stories - I guess this could be considered group therapy as well. It makes sense, aside from tone and mood we analyze conflict, conflict resolution and character motivations. All of these skills help us to be more reflective of our own actions. Great connections for real life.

Guess this is indirect proof that analytical readers can build awareness and development as a writer. This in part is what I will be covering in my narrative, "My Daily Struggle..." I'm hoping to get part two done this weekend. You have left me inspired...


carlacitarelli profile image

carlacitarelli 5 years ago

Very interesting to read and I actually learned something today!


missolive profile image

missolive 5 years ago from Texas Author

Thank you for stopping by carla - glad you found something interesting and new :)


Aeron Wright profile image

Aeron Wright 5 years ago

Missolive, what an interesting article! I like the extra visual touch on your hub and I must say it is really meaningful to learn about this.


givingfairy profile image

givingfairy 5 years ago from some place in the Big Apple

That's a great hub a very valuable resource for teachers as well as parents and caregivers. The way in which we communicate to kids will either lift them up or tear them down. Thanks for being a fan and for the words of encouragement.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Great infotaining hub missolive. helpful for parents and teachers.

Thanks for sharing this.


missolive profile image

missolive 5 years ago from Texas Author

Rajan - Tone and Mood is one of my favorite subjects. I LOVE teaching it in the classroom and analyzing it in what I read. Thank you for stopping by and for your supportive comments.

Peace, MissOlive / Marisa


asmaiftikhar profile image

asmaiftikhar 5 years ago from Pakistan

i would like to say you are my teacher,hope you will not mind.with respect Asma


missolive profile image

missolive 5 years ago from Texas Author

Asma - that is so sweet! I would not mind that at all. Glad to share what I know and teach with you. I am very pleased to share HubPages with you and it is always a pleasure to have your comments and support. With mutual respect, Marisa/MissOlive


adrienne2 profile image

adrienne2 5 years ago from Atlanta

Another awesome hub, I thought I was going to be reading about the tone of creating a type of header. You surprised with this information. Very useful, I will be teaching a class in Dec. where these tools will come in handy.

p.s. I didn't know there was a way we could make a graphs within our hubs enlarge. That's pretty neat!


missolive profile image

missolive 5 years ago from Texas Author

Thank you adrienne - glad this will be of use to you. By the way, the "graph" that you see is a slide from Power Point that I saved as a picture. :)


hectordang profile image

hectordang 4 years ago from New York

Thanks for the informative hub. I learned a new word today: denotation!


missolive profile image

missolive 4 years ago from Texas Author

hectordang - Denotation yay! It is even fun to say :)

I'm glad you found this hub to be informative. Thank you for reading and commenting.


iheartkafka profile image

iheartkafka 4 years ago

This is an awesome hub! These terms are so often confused; I think you've really found a creative way to help clarify these terms for students! Very useful information


sriparna profile image

sriparna 4 years ago from New Delhi

Your hub is the evidence that you are a great teacher! I teach Chemistry but I am always confused about the tone and mood when my English teaching colleagues discuss, so I dropped by. I understood and especially the aid to memory is useful. But more importantly, I would like to learn how did you make so interesting subheadings, I thought by default the subheadings in the text capsule are black and bold and no other font styles or underline, box (like you have done) are possible. I have to explore this, I got a new challenge and inspiration from your hub, please give some tips!


missolive profile image

missolive 4 years ago from Texas Author

iheartkafka, thank you!

sriparna, wow, what a nice comment. It is great to know something is understood. Makes me feel great. I created the subtitle/divider bars in Keynote (same as power point) and saved them as images. Then I cropped them into long rectangles and inserted them with the photo capsule. I can't add the link here, but I do have a hub on how to make them. 'How to Create Personalized Headers'

Thanks so much for stopping by.


Grandelly 4 years ago

Thank you for sharing your gift! This was a great selection of pictures, music, and TONE WORDS. I'm new to creating video resources for my students but am getting acclimated and seeing your labor of love is inspirational!


missolive profile image

missolive 4 years ago from Texas Author

Grandelly, thank you! What a great comment. You made my day. It takes some trial and error. I'm sure you will do a fab job. Happy teaching!


aqqqqqqq 15 months ago

this is good

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