Activity Overview

The setting of a story is the location and time frame, or the where and when of the story. Settings often play a crucial role in the story as they influence the characters, their motivations and their actions. The setting can include the environment, weather as well as the social and political factors within the time period both locally and globally. In the case of Echo, the setting informs each character's experience, as well as the path the harmonica took throughout time and space. In this activity, students will create a setting chart to identify time and place in Echo. Teachers may ask students to illustrate the setting of one of the stories, or create a comprehensive storyboard that includes the setting for each story.

Setting in Echo

Story Time Place
Friedrich's Story Friedrich's story takes place in 1933 during Hitler's rise to power. The reader witnesses the introduction of intimidation tactics and many laws that discriminated against and harmed Jews and any one who Hitler deemed to be not of "pure German ancestry". Anyone who opposed Hitler and the Nazi party risked being arrested, brutalized, killed, and sent to a concentration camp such as Dachau.   Friedrich's story is set in Trossingham, Germany in the south of the country near the Black Forest. In the story, Friedrich, his father and Uncle Gunter work in a Harmonica factory. In reality, Trossingham is where the famous Hohner Harmonica company was founded. 
Mike’s Story Mike's story is set in 1935. At the time, harmonica music and particularly the Blues is popular. During the Great Depression in the United States,  many people were poor and out of work. There were many orphans in the home where Mike and his brother lived and the corrupt head mistress used them to make money for herself. Mike's story is set in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mike and his brother, Frankie, live in an orphanage called Bishop's in a rural area. Later they go to live with Mrs. Sturbridge in her mansion in the city.
Ivy’s Story Ivy's story takes place in 1942 during WWII, after the U.S. declared war on Japan. Ivy's brother, Fernando, Kenny Yamamoto, and the Ward brothers have enlisted to fight. At the same time, Japanese Americans like the Yamamoto family have been stripped of their civil liberties and forcibly sent away to concentration camps throughout the country.  Ivy's story is set in Southern California. The family moves from Fresno County to Orange Country. Ivy is shocked when she is not allowed to attend the main school as it is segregated and children of Mexican descent are forced to attend a dilapidated school farther away.
Ivy’s Story Otto's story is said to be "50 years before the war to end all wars." This means it is 50 years before World War I, or around 1864.  The story of Eins, Zwei, and Drei is set many years before that and as it is a fairy tale, it is not specified but rather, 'Once upon a time', or in this case "long before enchantment was eclipsed by doubt." Otto's story takes place in the countryside near Trossingham in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, which is by the Black Forest and near the Swiss Alps. Otto hides in the Black Forest and it is there that he encounters Eins, Zwei, and Drei.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Due Date:

Objective: Create a storyboard identifying the setting in the book.

Student Instructions:

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Identify the different times and places in the story Echo.
  3. Add appropriate scenes, items, textables, etc. to illustrate each aspect of the setting.
  4. Write a description for each cell.

Lesson Plan Reference

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RH/9-10/3] Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.
  • [ELA-LITERACY/CCRA/R/1] Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
  • [ELA-LITERACY/CCRA/R/7] Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
  • [ELA-LITERACY/CCRA/R/9] Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

Setting Map Rubric #1
Evaluate your setting map using the criteria stated in the rubric below.
20 Points
15 Points
10 Points
Setting Description
The student effectively describes the setting by identifying the place, time, and atmosphere.
The student describes two elements of the setting.
The student describes only one aspect of the setting.
Role of Setting
The student effectively identifies how the setting contributes to the development of plot, characters, mood, and theme.
The student is able to identify how the setting contributes to the development of two aspects of the novel: plot, characters, mood, or theme.
The student is able to identify how the setting contributes to the development of one aspect of the novel: plot, characters, mood, or theme.
Shifts in Setting
The student identifies how the setting shifts and the effect this change has on plot, character, mood and theme development.
The student is able to identify how the setting shifts, and the effect this shift has on two aspects of the development of the novel (plot, character, mood, or theme).
The student is able to identify how the setting shifts, and the effect this shift has on one aspect of the development of the novel (plot, character, mood, or theme).
Final product contains accurate visual depictions of setting and characters.
Final product demonstrates an effort to accurately portray settings and characters though some aspects are confusing and/or inaccurate.
Final product contains irrelevant images.
Spelling, Grammar, Punctuation
Final product is free of spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors.
Final product contains up to three errors in spelling, punctuation, or grammar that do not alter the meaning of the text.
Final product contains more than three errors in spelling, punctuation, or grammar.

This Activity is Part of Many Teacher Guides

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