Story Retellings with Goldilocks

This post explains why teaching story retellings and includes several teaching tips and freebies featuring Goldilocks and the Three Bears by James Marshall.

Listening to a child's story retelling is very telling, isn't it? Have you ever listened to one where the child jumps from the beginning to 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 from the books they read so that they know where to place their attention.

Using Fairy Tales for Introduction

Story retellings can be introduced with these great books by James Marshall. This post includes lesson ideas and free resources for you!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

This organizer is part of a post on story retellings. Stop by for a complete lesson using James Marshall's version of GoldilocksIn 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. I distributed the four square mats I had made, but you can easily use a paper folded in four sections or a larger size poster paper for small groups to collaborate on. Then, 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.

Image result for jennifer serravallo reading strategiesUh-Oh Strategy

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

Have you heard of the Uh Oh strategy? Check out the great tips in The Reading Strategies Book. This post explains how the uh-oh strategies for retelling was used

Why Retellings are Important

This organizer is part of a post on story retellings. Stop by for a complete lesson using James Marshall's version of GoldilocksAt 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.

Have students who need help with retellings? Check out the hands on idea shared within this post as well as the free printables you can use in small group.
Have students who need help with retellings? Check out the hands on idea shared within this post as well as the free printables you can use in small group.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.)

Looking for ways to teach retellings? Be sure to visit this post for lesson ideas and free resources to use featuring Goldilocks by James Marshall
Before I close, I want to share big news...

Starting Friday...

Third Annual Spring Mentor Text Link Up Sponsored by The Reading Crew

Be sure to come back any time after 7:00 AM Friday morning.  The freebies and giveaway will run all week. One winner will receive a copy of each book featured in our lessons. 

Final Thoughts:
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.


  1. Carla, Love this post and the Reading Strategies book! You always share such useful information!

  2. I need to get these reading and writing books by Jennifer Serravallo! I have seen both the reading and writing ones but have not purchased them yet. You have convinced me. :-)
    One way that I teach story retelling is through a beaded bracelet the students make with a pipe cleaner. Each bead is a different color and represents different parts such as the title, characters, settings, problem, solution, BME, and/or a recommendation. Students keep them in their book boxes or wear them during Daily 5.
    Thanks so much for your inspiration and sharing!
    Teaching Tips and Treasures


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