Throughout the month of December, I read gingerbread stories. The story, The Gingerbread Mouse, is one of my favorites because it goes in a different direction than the Gingerbread Man-like books.
Children, some join me on the rug for a story. It is called The Gingerbread Mouse, and it is different than the other types of gingerbread stories that we have been hearing. In this story, a mouse loses her home and needs to find another. She comes upon a gingerbread house and it works out for a while, but then something happens. I would like you to make predictions about what you think will happen next. Now let's hear the story.
I limit the predictions to three children so that we can go on to read the story.
Learning to retell a story thoughtfully is critical to learning to write a story and to build comprehension. Sometimes the student practices, referring to the book until the story is learned and the student feels confident enough to share. Students can use small props and puppets to help them as they learn to retell.
After reading the story of Gingerbread Mouse, the children will build a paperbag gingerbread house and colored paper. The class will also be making candy cane mice from felt and candy canes. If you do not want to make the mice this way, you can give the children copypaper with a mouse picture to color to help with the retelling. The Paper bag house that they are building represents the mouse's house. While most of the class is decorating their houses, I will work with a small group of children to do a writing activity that has the children expand on the character of the mouse. Once the children have finished the houses and the writing activity, the children will pair up with someone at their table and share their story called "Meet My Mouse." At the end we will all meet back at the rug for a retelling.
What did you think about this story? Was it like The Gingerbread Man? Who can tell me some of the events in this story? When I call on you, try to tell me the very next thing that happened after the event of which your classmate spoke.
To go along with the idea of retelling the story, you will be making a paperbag gingerbread house and a candy cane mouse. You will use these two things to retell the story to a friend, and to a family member when you get home.
While you are working on assembling your houses, I will work with one table at a time to help with the writing activity, Meet My Mouse, that goes with this story. When you are writing about your mouse, I want you to think about the things that a reader would want to know. Remember, your mouse is a special mouse. It has a name that you have given to it. How old is your mouse? What does your mouse like to do? Does it have a favorite snack? Because we have said that it is a special mouse, it probably can do something that a regular mouse can't do. What would you have your mouse do? One we have worked together to get your page written, you will need to draw a very detailed picture of your mouse doing whatever it is that is so special. We are going to take everyone's pages to make a book for our room, but it needs to be your finest work. Make sure to show your picture to a friend and see if he can tell you what is happening in the picture. If he can not, then that usually means that you need to either work more neatly or add more details.
When all of your work is completed you may take your house and mouse to the rug area to practice retelling the details of our story about the Gingerbread Mouse. We will meet again in a fifteen minutes to do our retellings. I will chose a few to tell the story to the whole class.
Retelling is often the comprehension part of primary assessment, and this tool is a way of improving comprehension and writing. I like to focus in on teaching the children what are most important things to tell about from the story, and then, to tell the details in the right order. This gives me insight into their listening abilities and how they make sense of the things that are being taught to them.
For this activity, I will be walking around the room listening to the retellings. I will be listening for key details:
The mouse's house being destroyed.
The mouse looking for a new home.
Mouse finding a gingerbread house and moving in with the family.
Mouse making furniture.
Mouse meeting Santa and him giving her a dollhouse.
The mouse making friends with the little girl.