Story retelling activities are a MUST for moving your young readers’ comprehension level in the right direction…
…teaching it the WRONG way is more damaging than not teaching it at all.
So feel free to take these retelling tips and run with them this school year!
What is Retelling of a Story
Retelling a story in order is a comprehension strategy that all good readers use to think about and understand the story sequence and what they are reading. When students retell a story in sequential order, they need only to retell the important parts in their own words.
This is where I usually have a lesson on important vs. interesting details. I use a story we have read in class as a whole group multiple times, and I ask them to pretend like we are retelling it to a friend that was absent on the day we read it. I pick events and key details from the story and ask them if the story would still have made sense even if that part wasn’t included.
Retelling helps us comprehend the story better and remember what we read. I teach my students that all good readers stop and retell throughout the text and not only at the end in order to help them understand the story and sequence of events.
Make Teaching Retelling Skills Story Fun
Tip #1 Let students use props.
Here are some fun ideas and activities for retelling a story! What kid doesn’t love to play? Using props for learning feels like play to them.
Some easy props your students can use to make the retelling of a story fun would be:
- stuffed animals
- action figures
- puppets using paper lunch sacks or popsicle sticks.
If you use puppets you can use pictures from the text and let students color and cut them out or just have students draw pictures from the text to use for their puppets. Retelling a story using pictures is one of the best ways to reinforce this skill!
How to Write a Retelling of a Story
Tip #2 Use a retelling structure
Asking students to write what happened in the beginning, middle and end is not as easy as it sounds.
You will have students telling you every single thing about every page of the book.
1st graders need more of a structure set in place for them to retell. Using some type of retelling of a story template will tremendously help your students only include important details.
There are different versions you can use but my favorite is Somebody-Wanted-But-So-Then
- Somebody (the main characters)
- Wanted (what the main character wanted)
- But (the problem)
- So (what the character does to try and solve the problem)
- Then (what happens when the character’s problem is solved)
I just have my students list S, W, B, S, T down the side of their paper and list out these things. Then we go back and read what they wrote and they can see how we retold just the important parts.
I love to tie in retelling with interactive read alouds. This really gets the students involved in the learning and ultimately I feel students retain the information I teach better when I teach using interactive read alouds.
If you want to learn more about why interactive read alouds are so important in the classroom definitely read this blog post!
Retelling a Story with Sticky Notes
Retelling a Story with Sticky Notes
Tip #3 Let students use sticky notes.
I have never met a student that did not love to use a sticky note.
In my class I get a large piece of butcher paper and divide it into 5 sections. I label each section Somebody, Wanted, But, So, Then (Just like Tip #2). The students will write what they think goes in each section on their sticky note and stick it on.
Students can work alone or with a group on this. Once everyone has their sticky notes posted we go over each one and look for similarities in what they wrote.
There should be several sticky notes that say basically the same thing and this is how we determine what the real answer is. As a class we take these answers and combine them into one final answer to get our retelling.
Another tip to use with this retelling activity using sticky notes would to be to mark the beginning, middle and end of the story with a sticky note in correct order to help students know where to look when retelling the beginning, middle or end.
Using sticky notes a close reading passage is also a great way to introduce retelling for the first time. The passages are usually on one page and you can place the sticky notes right on the page for students to see exactly where the beginning, middle, and end are. I love using close reading with retelling in my small groups.
This blog post will teach you how to ignite students’ passion for reading with close reading!
Do you have any tips for teaching retelling? If so, comment and tell me about them! I LOVE teaching reading strategies to improve students’ comprehension so I’m always open to new ideas!