Each afternoon, my students gather together on our classroom rug to hear a story that kicks off our literacy block. The children like the predictability of knowing what is going to happen at this time. Earlier in the day, our fifth grade buddies shared some Thanksgiving stories with us. The more repetition the students get involving the first Thanksgiving, the more information they will retain. To reinforce what the children already heard, I will read a story to the class called The Very First Thanksgiving Day.
Everyone, come join me on the rug to hear a story about the first Thanksgiving. The book is called The Very First Thanksgiving Day. It tells of the travels that the Pilgrims made to get to America and how the first Thanksgiving dinner came to be. I hope that hearing this story will help you to recall some of the information from the books that our fifth grade buddies read to us.
Who can tell me something that they remember from the story? Great! What else can you remember? (You can write these on the board, but I chose not to to save time for the activity.)
Did anyone notice the cool bracelet that I have on my wrist? Do you know who made it? Me! You are going to make one too, but this bracelet has a very special purpose.
Story retelling is the process by which a child listens to or reads a story and then summarize, or "retells," the story in his or her own words. Retelling ties into these learning experiences and is an effective way to improve children's reading comprehension. Using this technique leads to large improvements in story comprehension, making inferences, and understanding of story structure. Story retelling requires children to focus on the bigger picture of the story and me to see how well a child understands the story as a whole. By having children tell the story in their own words, educators can identify children's strengths, and specific areas of difficulty that arise for individual students. As children become more comfortable with retelling stories, their language and listening skills will improve.
I show the children my example of the retelling bracelet that they are going to make, and the key that they will need to follow to use this tool. The children work as a group to retell the story from the Answer Key. Each differently colored bead is used to represent a different part of the story. The children string a bead onto a chenille stem (pipe cleaner) and tell what that bead means. Once all the beads have been strung, the child compares their bracelet to the key page. The children use their bracelets as reminders as they practice telling a buddy the important parts of the story.
Each table has a tray that contains four pieces of pipe cleaner and ten different colors of beads—each bead represents an event in the story: brown, white, blue, dark green, light green, beige, red, yellow, and orange. With the beads and pipe cleaner, you will be making a story-retelling bracelet. Once these are complete, I will show you how to use your bracelets to retell the story.
You will be stringing the beads onto a pipe cleaner, but they do not go on in any old way, you must listen carefully to the retelling to know which color bead goes where. As I say an event, I want you to find that color bead from your tray and slip it onto the pipe cleaner. If you are not sure about what to do next, I have put an answer key at your spot. It shows the color, the number of beads, and what each bead means. This will help you to put the colors in the correct order to be able to retell the story. When you have finished, count to make sure you have fifteen beads on your bracelet.
Now you are ready for the retelling. Pretend that I am working with one of you. You are my buddy. I would have my bracelet on my wrist and I would slide the bead over as I tell you the story. This helps me to keep track. When I am finished telling the story to my buddy, I listen with my good listening ears as my friend has his turn to share. So who can help me remember our objective? "I can make a bracelet and use it to retell a story."
This type of activity helps to bring the story together for the children. To extend and reinforce the retelling portion of the lesson, the children will take home their answer sheet. They can use the picture clues and the story retelling bracelets to tell the story to their families. As the children finish, they come to me to make sure the bracelets are fastened properly and I have them tell me the story details. This way I can check for their understanding.
When you have finished your bracelet, come see me so that I can check the order and to see if you have twisted it together enough. I will ask you a few questions about the beads and then I will send you off with a buddy to retell your stories. I will be walking around listening to you when I am not fastening the other children's bracelets. I will be looking for clear story telling and good listeners.