Kids love stories. Stories take them to an imaginary world that they see through their own eyes. In addition to stimulating curiosity, stories support brain development and improve concentration. It also helps build social and communication skills.
Reading stories is a part of my daughter’s daily routine. Snuggling on the bed with her favorite blanket and a book is something she enjoys thoroughly. Now that she is older, I decided to add the element of story retelling after we read a book.
Story retelling is a vital skill that promotes reading comprehension and improves writing skills. How? The practice of retelling a story in spoken format helps them learn the right way to collate thoughts, determine the sequence of events, and present them in the right fashion. Later, they can apply these skills in a written format too!
While there are many retelling games available online, to make story retelling a bit more interesting at home, we decided to make animal puppets that could be later used to retell a story. We occasionally decide which book we will read the next day so that we can make a related animal craft for retelling the story. This time around, my daughter picked the story of “The Hare and the Tortoise.” Let me show you how we made the two animal characters for this activity.
Things You’ll Need:
White disposable paper cups – 2
Colored paper – white, pink, light yellow
Googly eyes – 3 sets
Green glitter paper – 1
Scissors (Disclaimer: Adult supervision is required as a pair of scissors is a sharp tool. Please be vigilant.)
Take two disposable paper cups. I have used plain white cups for the activity. White cups are easy to use if you’re making a white character. You can also paint it a different color if you need to.
For making the hare, take pieces of white and pink sheets. Use a brown marker or any other marker and draw ear and nose shapes on it. I folded the paper once for the ears, so when I cut the shape, I got two identical pieces.
This is what the cutouts look like. I have added a pair of googly eyes to complete the hare’s face. Now let your child use glue to stick the shapes on the cup. It is best to paste the pink part onto the white ear, as shown in the picture, before sticking the whole thing on the cup, so it is easy to stick on.
Once the ears are properly glued to the base of the cup, go ahead and add the googly eyes and nose to the cup to resemble a hare’s face.
Let your kid use the marker to draw a few whiskers on both sides of the nose to complete the face. This is how the hare will look in the end. Isn’t it cute?
Next, go ahead and help your child make the tortoise. Take the second white disposable cup and color it with green paint.
Now use the green glitter paper and half of the light-yellow paper to make small circles.
On the other half of the yellow sheet, draw the shapes as shown in the image above to prepare the tortoise’s face, tail, and feet.
Cut out the circles and the body parts of the tortoise. You can help your child with this one, as it needs good cutting skills. When the cutouts are ready, your child can glue them on the green cup. Add a googly eye to the face cutout to complete the tortoise. Did you like it?
Here is the final look at the two animals. What do you think? My daughter admired her work and enjoyed making this animal craft. With little modification in terms of features, you can make this craft for any animal or character.
For story retelling, your kid can simply wear the animal cups on either hand and engage in the activity. What a fantastic way to combine two activities!
How to use the animal craft for a story-retelling activity
Once the craft is ready, set it aside so it can be used the next day for story-retelling. Doing the craft and the retelling in one day may not be a good idea, as your kid may need a break after making the craft. When they come back to it the next day, they will have their full attention and concentration. So, how do you go about the retelling activity?
1. Let your child preview the book, look at the pictures, read about the author, etc.
2. Read the book to your child.
3. If your child is old enough to read properly, have a second round of story reading, with your child reading the story this time. Reading aloud twice helps the child remember the plot, characters, and sequence of events in a better way.
4. Now, let your child retell the story in their own words using the animal puppets they previously made. Your child will surely enjoy retelling the story as they use their handmade animal craft.
5. Next, you can read the book once again so your child can assess if they got it right. Or, you can take this opportunity to provide a learning experience by retelling the story to your child using the puppets to demonstrate how they can do it better.
6. You can also write prompts on a piece of paper, such as “beginning,” “middle,” and “end,” or things like setting, characters, problem, and solution to guide your child in the retelling process.
I have found that combining animal crafts with a story-retelling activity is a good idea, as it adds a fun element to the retelling part, which may sometimes get boring and discourage your child from giving it their 100%. We made the hare and the tortoise for this activity because they were the main characters of the story we were going to read. Figuring out which story your child would love to read next time can help you arrange the supplies necessary for the craft. Let the imagination soar and try making different characters out of disposable cups to use in your next story-retelling activity!