Using The Fabulous Friend Machine to Help Teach Characterization

Using The Fabulous Friend Machine to Help Teach Characterization

I have once again teamed up with the fabulous Reading Crew Bloggers to kick off spring with a mentor text blog hop and giveaway! Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter at the end of this post for a chance to win a mini iPad or one of several gift cards! We will be choosing 8 different winners.

Using the book The Fabulous Friend Machine by Nick Bland to teach characterization. This story is a great lesson for the digital citizenship topics of online safety.

The Book

The book I chose to feature in our springtime book hop is one from my technology-themed picture books list: The Fabulous Friend Machine by Nick Bland (Amazon affiliate link).

Not only do I love using this book to help reinforce digital citizenship concepts like online safety and stranger danger but it can also be used to introduce the reading skill of characterization.

It is about a friendly chicken named Popcorn who finds a digital device (which she refers to as the Fabulous Friend Machine) in the barn and attempts to make some new friends online. Unfortunately her "new friends" don't turn out to be friendly at all...

UPDATE! Since I wrote this post The Fabulous Friend Machine has become unavailable on Amazon (go figure!). Hopefully it will make a come back. I was able to find it on Book Depository with free delivery world wide

The Skill

Characterization refers to the way the author conveys information about a character. Sometimes authors are direct when describing a character by telling a reader exactly what a character is like: Ex. "Popcorn was, quite simply, the friendliest chicken at Fiddlesticks Farm." Other times authors are indirect when showing what a character is like which leaves the reader needing to look for clues: Ex. "The wolves didn't want to eat double-fudge chocolate cake. They wanted to eat chicken!" 

The Activity

Click HERE to download my freebie of printables and jpeg images to go along with this story. You will find the three posters displayed above in this download as well. This UNPLUGGED activity makes a great, educational lesson for technology teachers when computers are being used for testing or when the wifi is down. However, I have also included jpeg images of the printables for teachers who would rather use them in Google Slides, PowerPoint, Seesaw, Classkick, PicCollage, etc. (Directions for how to do this are not included)


Hand out the characterization sheet that comes in the free download:

Introduce (or review with) students the concept of characterization. Have them look at the sheet and  identify the characters they will encounter when reading the story (the pictures should help). As a class, make predictions about the characters' personalities. 


Using the same sheet mentioned above, have students jot down anything they notice about the characters as you read the story.

  • physical characteristics
  • facial expressions
  • body language
  • things they say
  • things they do
  • adjectives used to describe them


If you would like students to take a deeper dive into characterization, have them fill out the chart for each character. They could do this in small groups or partners to get a conversation going. If you upload these to Google Slides, students could work collaboratively.

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