Retelling Made Easy


Retelling is one of those things I did not used to enjoy spending much time on.  However, this year I began using my Sulzby texts (books we have read together MANY times) and my mentor texts to teach retelling, and it has been amazing!

One of the things I disliked about teaching retelling was trying to have my kids retell their “just right” books.  When I have them retell, I want them to be able to remember the characters, setting, problem, and solution.  Some of my students have “just right” books with more complex stories (especially at this time of year), but many work in texts that are not good for retelling.  The beginning leveled books are especially ineffective, as the texts are often lists.  “Mom is shopping, Mom is walking, Mom is dancing” etc.  It simply does not matter the order in which things happen in a book like that.  I would teach retelling, tell my kids to go off and practice, and they would hit this speed bump.  Changing the texts we used changed everything.

This year, when working on retelling, it was so smooth!  The kids were already so familiar with our mentor texts and Sulzby texts that many of them could retell with very little practice.

I extended their work by creating some “retelling sheets” for them.  I took photos of some of the important parts in each book and put together a mixed up photo page.  The kids then had to cut out the pictures and glue them down in order.




The wonderful side bonus of this work happened when a child realized they did not know what came next.  The kids naturally began going to the books to double check their work.  It can be difficult to get kids to go back to the text and read again, and this was a fun, natural way to encourage it!



Once the kids had finished their “retelling sheets,” I had them work with their reading partners.  They took turns retelling a familiar book to their partner, using their sheet as a guide.  This helped to elevate their oral retellings by encouraging them to include more important events and details.



How do you practice retelling with your kids?

3 Responses to Retelling Made Easy

  1. Netty October 14, 2013 at 7:16 am #

    I like this idea a lot – retelling with stories where the students can physically move around/place the sequences. How about using a ten frame as your framework for sequencing so that they have another connection to math?

    • Karen Langdon October 30, 2013 at 11:58 pm #

      Great idea! Because the sequencing really depends on the story, you could get lots of different numbers to work with within ten frames.

  2. Avril Munro November 27, 2016 at 1:24 pm #

    I frequently use dramatization in my kindergarten classroom. I love the activity you have suggested here.