And what happened next?

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SWBAT retell the main events in a story in order.

Big Idea

Retelling is a way to show understanding. Using pictures and puppets makes it fun!


15 minutes

Before this lesson, I had taught my class to fold paper in three sections to draw and briefly describe the beginning, middle and end of a story. Now I wanted them to retell the events in sequence.

I sent them to the carpet area and told them that they were going to listen to a story (I used The Tortoise and the Hare). I reminded them that every story has a beginning, a middle and an end and that it is important to remember what happened at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of the story. 

As I read, I stopped as needed for clarification. When preparing the lesson, I find it is important to look through the version of the story you are going to read and identify any words which you think the children will have trouble understanding. Some of the language in fables is difficult for first graders, but with CCSS it is important to explicitly teach tier 2 vocabulary. Front loading the vocabulary is particularly important for English learners.

After the read aloud, we had a short conversation in which I invited them to discuss the characters, give their opinion about what happened, or point out their favorite part.

Guided Retelling

10 minutes

To support students in their retelling, I use a chart like the one you can see in the resource section. It is useful to make into a poster that you can post for future reference and independent practice. Eventually they will internalize it and start building upon it by adding more details or imprinting their own style onto their retelling.

Another way to support them is to have four pictures from the story. When introducing retelling, I like to have copies of illustrations from the beginning, middle and end of the story. I scrambled them, had volunteers help me put them in order, and then used the chart to retell the story.

Independent practice

20 minutes

For independent practice I gave my students graphic organizers, copies of the four pictures from the story, and materials to make paper bag puppets. I sent them to their desks to work and told them when they finished the graphic organizer and the puppets they should practice retelling the story, either in whispers to themselves or to their elbow partner. I emphasized the importance of using quiet, very soft voices when we are working so that we can all hear. This is counter-intuitive and therefore hard for the little ones. However I find it worthwhile the time and effort it takes to get them accustomed to it because then there can be group work, independent reading, independent work and small group instruction going on.

The clip shows one of my students using the pictures to retell the story.


5 minutes

When most of the students had finished, I told the class to join me at the rug area. I then showed the class three samples of students' work and told them why they were good. I explained that this is a way of showing the beginning, middle and end of a story that they will use for other books.