What Happened in the Story?


Retelling stories is important! When a child can tell you some or all of what happened in a story, they show you that they listened, understood and can use their language and vocabulary skills to tell you what they remember.

Tools and Materials

Books, paper, writing/drawing tools, small household items, books on tape or CD

Steps to take

Story recall can be a difficult skill for children to grasp, a great way to start is to ask your child to recall events from the day or a trip to the store, this is an activity that can take place any time of the day.

At Home

If you have more time

  • Whenever reading to your child, asking what happened in the story is a great recall exercise after every book. A book with a simple story line is best for starting this practice. Even a book such as Good Night Gorilla by Peggy Rathman, which has almost no text can allow you to turn the pages with your child and ask "What happened on this page?" and so on.
  • Remember to always allow some time for your child to think and answer. If you find your child struggling, refer to a picture in the book and say "What is the gorilla doing here?" Remember the 5 "W" questions ("who, what, when, where, why" and don't forget "how" too!)    Ask your child to name the characters in the story ("Who was in the story?")  *HINT: Once you have reviewed a story with your child in this way, don't consider that story "over". Children both love and need repetition! Repetition allows them to absorb a story.
  • Continue this every time you read and re-read a story.

On the Go

If you have more time   

  • Do a book review with your child. Pick a favorite book ask your child "What happened to the princess in the book first? Then what happened?" and so on.
  • Leave something out- As you retell a favorite book to your child, leave out a word or two or skip and entire part all together! See if your child can catch you in the act!
  • "What Did I Leave Out?" Tell your child you are going to give her 3 words ." Then say, "In a few minutes I'm going to see if you can remember those words. Here you go...duck, tree, car." If your child is having trouble recalling the items provide clues, such as "it was something that swims in a pond."
  • Go to the library and get some books on CD or tape. Stop the story at different sections and ask, "What happened in the story so far?"

Words to Know

Plot  Summary   Resolution (solution)   Conflict (problem)   Characters    Setting

Possible Observations

Listens to books; answers questions about a story; retells some or all of a story; turns pages