Listening to a child’s story retelling is very telling, isn’t it? Have you listened to one where the child jumps from the beginning to the end and back to the middle only to realize he/she forgot an event? Confusing right? Teaching children how stories are structured is very very important. Kids need to know what to expect as they read so that they know where to place their attention.
Using Fairy Tales for Introduction
This week, I was back in first grade, and for a set of lessons on story retellings, I decided to go with familiar texts to introduce story structure. For the lesson, I used James Marshall’s Goldilocks and the Three Bears. If you have not had a chance to explore James Marshall’s fairy tales and folktales, you are missing out. The adorable illustrations are one big positive for his books, but I LOVE how he also weaves in rich vocabulary into the classic tales. The image to the right includes the titles you might include with deeper studies of fairy tales. In fact, I’ll be revisiting them soon.
Four Square Thinking Mat
In this lesson, I decided to use a four square thinking mat. Before sharing the story, I brainstorm the parts of a story with them, and as expected, the parts suggested included words, the title, the cover, but not the characters, setting, and plot. (and I know these had been taught previously….ugh!). Eventually, we did get to the parts I was looking for, and we moved on to the next step in the lesson, modeling.
For modeling, I distributed the four square mats I had made. However, you can easily use a paper folded in four sections or a larger size poster paper for small groups to collaborate on. I made it a competition to see how many details they could record that told about the characters, setting, problem, and solution. I stopped periodically to let the groups compare notes and discuss with each other. Then, we did pairs check to allow more discussion. Eventually, their papers were full, and we were ready to move to our small group lessons.
In small group, we continued working on gathering information about the story elements in preparation for the remainder of the lessons.
On day 2, I was ready to introduce the students to the Uh-Oh Strategy. This idea came from a wonderful book, The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo. If you hadn’t discovered this book before now, I highly recommend you go straight over to Amazon and purchase it. I just love all of the wonderful teaching ideas for strategies. Anyway, let me explain uh-oh to you. (and maybe I can show it too.)
In the image below, I’ve illustrated the idea that was shared with the children, but during class, we actually made an anchor chart explaining the idea of how a story is structured and how we share/write a retelling. Then, they practiced retelling Goldilocks and the Three Bears before moving into small groups for additional practice with their leveled texts.
The Uh-Oh Model
Why Retellings are Important
At the beginning of this post, I talked about the child who when tested, retells the story in random order. This is a BIG concern when it happens because the child is demonstrating a lack of understanding with story structure and sequencing. Another problem is when you have a student who when asked to retell what they read, has no memory of it. For these children (and all children), we need to teach the structure and how retellings are done with the hope that the retellings they share improve.
For an added bonus, I have two other retelling ideas I’ll close with. One is this organizer/foldable you can use with small group instruction. The top and bottom sections can fold in to create a brochure. Students can add the Title and Author to the top flap.
Another idea for story retellings I got from my friend, Heather over at Campfire Curriculum. She created these adorable cardboard hand cutouts, and labeled them like the image to the left except that she added a loop of yard through a bead across each finger that could slide from the finger tip to the “middle knuckle” as the child shares that part of the story. For example, once the characters are shared, the second bead would slide down the finger. This hands on approach could be a very helpful technique for the child who leaves parts out. (I will try to make one and add the photograph later this evening.)
Final Thoughts on Retellings:
How do you teach story retellings? If you have activities that have worked well, please take a moment to share for others to see, and thanks for dropping by.