Literacy at Home: Retelling a Story

Between the ages of 2 and 3, children usually hit a developmental stage where they want to hear the same story over and over and over again. While it’s exciting to see them reaching this stage (their literacy is developing!) it can be a bit tiring if you’re the one repeating the same story for the umpteenth time. Here are four great ways to add some variety into your reading while still supporting your child’s literacy development.

Being able to retell a story is an important literacy skill and one that’s great to practice with stories that are very familiar. Since your child has been listening to the same story for a while now, they’ve got a pretty good grasp on it. Time to switch things up and try some story retelling activities with them!

1. Retell it with objects

Depending on what story you’re reading, you might break out the toy box, or grab some items from around your house. Are you retelling Stone Soup? Grab a cooking pot and some vegetables from the fridge as props.

Read the story with your child, and then explain that you’re going to tell it again with the objects. You might start out by telling the story yourself and using the objects to act it out, and slowly getting your child involved. Maybe they want to play one character, or tell a certain part. Let them choose how involved they are going to be. Don’t worry about being word perfect. Although you might have the story memorized already, it’s okay if you don’t. Just tell the story and have fun.

2. Draw it

Grab some paper and markers and have your child draw along with you as you retell the story. This isn’t re-creating the illustrations in the book, this is retelling the story through a different medium. They might draw the whole story in one picture, or they might draw a bunch of incomprehensible scribbles that they then explain to you as the story. This is all great literacy practice! It also helps them practice their fine motor skills.

3. Story Stones

You might not have heard of story stones before, but they’re exactly what they sound like: stones that tell a story. They usually have pictures on them of characters or objects. They might be from a specific story, or they might be general pictures that can be used to make up your own stories.

In this instance, you’ll want to use story stones that are based on the story you’re retelling. It’s easy to make your own, and this can be a fun activity to do with little ones. You can paint your own pictures, draw on them with markers, or cut and glue pictures or fabric onto the rocks.

Here are a few sites that can get you started:

Once you’ve got your story stones ready, have your child use them to retell the story, or have them use them to tell the story along with you as you retell the story to them.

This can be a good way to keep them engaged with the story if their attention tends to wander – although it’s okay if your child doesn’t always sit still the entire time you are reading. They’re still listening and learning even as they are moving!

4. Felt Story

Felt stories are another method of retelling stories. If you’ve ever attended a Storytime program you’ve probably seen one before. Colourful characters and objects cut out of felt are placed on a (usually) black or green background as visuals during the oral telling of a story.

Felt stories and felt boards are relatively inexpensive to make (you can find felt at most dollar stores), and can be used again and again and again. Children love to be able to take part in the storytelling by placing the pieces of felt on the board as you tell the story.

If you want to try some out before making your own, check out some these pairings we’ve put together for you! Along with each listed book is one of our literacy kits which includes a matching felt story. (For the kits that don’t include a copy of the book as well as the felt story we’ve linked both the literacy kit and the book)

If you want to start making some of your own felt stories, you can dive in here: https://storytimekatie.com/flannelboards/

And you can find four really creative ways of making an inexpensive felt board at home here:

For more of early literacy ideas, check out our other posts in this series: https://tnrlblog.ca/tag/early-literacy/