Using Children's Books for Therapy: Story Retell

Retelling stories is listed as a common core standard as early as Kindergarten. With our language disabled students, we can't just jump in, tell a story, and expect the students to turn around and retell the story to us. So where do I start working with this skill?

Learning the Elements

As with the previous posts when I discussed auditory comprehension and articulation, I read the whole book first. I use Story Builder from Super Duper to teach my students the story elements. I explain to them that to tell a story, you have to have each of these elements or else the story won't make sense.
Before I even read a book, I spend some time making sure they know what each element means. Story Builder comes with a script to use to aid in teaching the elements. I used it at first but then came up with my own words and my own way to teach the elements.
Once the students have a decent grasp on each element, I read a book. Even if my students don't have sequencing as a goal, we will go through the sequences of the book since that will help with retell. Again, book companions are a great way to work on this skill.

3-Step Process

I use a "3-step process". Step 1: The students match the story element with the name of the element.
Step 2: The students draw pictures from the story for each element. Pictures are used for each element to give them a visual cue.
  Step 3: Depending on the age, the student can either draw the story element under each name or write the element.
I have the student, no matter which step they're on, take the paper home and go over it with their parent. Most of the books I use can be found on YouTube so the parent will be familiar with it. 

Be Patient

The student is not going to go through the 3 steps overnight. I have some younger students who have not made it past the first step after working on it for a year. I have some students who can go right to step 3. I would suggest beginning with step 1 to make sure that the student understands what each element is. 
The goal is for the student be able to retell a story and create their own story by having the visuals in their head. As we all know, this could translate into writing success. Our language disabled students need as many visuals as they can get, as well as repetition. Taking your time to teach the story elements is definitely of value for your students. 

Knowing Where to Start

I've started using the Test of Narrative Language-2 (Ronald B. Gillam and Nils A. Pearson) to determine exactly where a student is with these skills. That gives me a good idea of what skills the student already has and what to focus on during therapy sessions.
How do you work with this target? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this; leave them in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. I love using books in therapy! So much can be accomplished with just a good book.


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