Important Strategies and Activities for a Perfect Retelling Session

Last Updated on February 16, 2023 by Editorial Team

A concept, lecture, or even a story can take a new turn when the mentor narrates it in a new way or asks the student to show it as a part of revision. While we call it retelling, it has a number of benefits as a part of study hour. 

While we may comprehend that retelling is the method of reteaching a concept or a chapter.  The technique may obligate newer strategies every day to retain the interest of the learners. While it may be arduous to come up with, we here listed out ten working strategies and a few activities to assist. These offer creative direction to the narration and may also ensure better engagement. 

Retelling- Comprehending its essence!

As a storytelling or lecture session comes to an end, it brings with it post-reading activities and oral talk related to it. The central motto of these exercises is to make sure that the little ones are well versed with the concept. 

Retelling is another strategy adopted by several facilitators/teachers where the emphasis was more on the child retelling, which brought to test the listening or reading skills of the child and helped in improving the comprehension skills and vocabulary of the readers. Retelling helps in reading, writing, and interpreting the text the students have either heard or read which later on brings forth the skill of summarizing a story to their mentor.

Strategies for retelling: Tips that may assist

1. Say It Out Loud

Say It Out Loud

The children have read the story/heard the story. What’s next?  Here’s where after pondering upon the words, the teacher or the parent asks the child to say them out loud. Whether they are mere words or one-line sentences. This is a memory perceptual skill that helps in remembering the words that were heard or read. It is to be kept in mind that paraphrasing is not the objective; rather retelling what was the background of the concept combined with their existing knowledge is what we try to achieve through this strategy.

2. Paint the scene

Paint the scene

Drawing is something that little learners may be intrigued to indulge in. While listening to the lecture or story the teacher or the parent can stop midway/after one paragraph and ask the children to visualize to imagine what an object or a place would look like. The children may use their form constancy visual perceptual skills just like color coding to be able to make a figure or an object in their brain and the visual figure-ground to separate two items from each other. 

3. The written word

 The written word

To write is to think and put it down on paper. The concept of retelling is to remember what little the child remembers. When writing the focus need not be on the grammar but on the recollection of the concept in their own words. which also gives scope for improving their own language. Repetition of words from the story if written, again and again, making a permanent place in the child’s developing brain as it becomes a part of their long-term memory.

4. What happened next?

What works in the retelling is giving hints or the beginning of the story, the middle, or even towards the end is like a support to the brain to comprehend/figure out how to go about from there. If the child recognizes the bits of the retelling by the parent or the teacher, then it becomes easier and much more interactive for the student to retell the story.

5. The puppet way

The puppet way

Using a puppet prop helps the child in visualizing one of the main characters or sometimes the main setting while listening to or reading the topic which makes a figure in the child’s brain and is able to relate to the prop helping in retelling the story. The prop has to be a character or an object from the story that is an integral part of the story so that when the child is asked to retell the story, the prop reminds him of the story in bits and pieces and especially at the places when the prop was used in the story.

6. Click! click!

Click! click!

Photos or illustrations that represent the chapter or settings and variables in it. While telling the story, you can keep on displaying the photos as the narration moves ahead, and once it’s time for the child to retell it, they can go back to their visual memory and connect the dots to the story, which would help them in retelling the story. This strategy may assist the child in associating that particular color with the object or the person/animal.

7. Play with legos

 Play with legos

When the child is asked to retell, ask them to make something from the legos they usually play with which yet again makes them be more imaginative and think of what that object or setting will look like. This is also a challenge for toddlers and preschoolers but an interactive game where legos act as a helpful catalyst for the retelling of the story.

8. By the genre

By the genre

While asking to retell, the students can be asked about the genre or the theme of the story where they are asked to recognize if it is a made-up story or a story that is real. Analyzing and stopping to think about the story brings the child closer to understanding the process of retelling the story, however little they have grasped the stories.

9. Five Finger Strategy

Five Finger Strategy

A strategy that was introduced to us by Jan Richardson The Next Step Forward In Guided Reading Jan talks about the Five Finger Strategy where the story is divided into the five fingers of our hand where the thumb denotes the characters, the index finger denotes the setting of the story. The tall finger represents the problem that arrives at the beginning of the story. 

The middle finger has to be remembered as the events that happen in the entire story, i.e. from the beginning, in the middle, and till the end and the pinky finger represents the solution/end. The students are instructed to keep this differentiation in mind, and once the story starts, they are asked to retell it by choosing any of the fingers, and they can answer it orally or write it down.

Retelling activities- To accompany students in classrooms 

While you may be versed with the strategies that can make out ideas for crafting various activities.  Here we gave out five activities to assist you with better retelling comprehension. These are effective and may be applied with minimum effort. 

1. Play It Out

Play it out

Material Required: Chart paper,scissors,glue,crayons,sketch pen,used straws/icecream sticks

  • To start with, the students will be divided into groups of 3 to 4 students. 
  • They pick a story that they would have to retell and make small settings, characters, and events.
  • They draw these characters on a chart paper and cut them out to stick them on straws or icecream sticks
  •  The activity has to be done by the students incrementally, and they have to make the characters and the settings that they want to show in their own groups. It is necessary that 1or 2 students may remember the story so that they don’t sit idle and wait for the teacher’s help.

Here, the child would be enacting the story that their teachers have been telling them. It is not just a play but rather makes small figurines and uses the figurines as puppets and performs the last story they remember.

2. Wearing a Bracelet

Wearing a bracelet

Material Required: Five different colors of beads, thread, scissors, pen, paper, and chart paper.

  • First, Kids will be divided into groups and make bracelets with the help of the teacher and everyone has to make a bracelet of the same five colours of beads. 
  • Next, when the teacher in the classroom calls out the colour and the question related to it they would answer the question by retelling a chapter they have read/heard.
  •  To make it more exciting, the groups can be rewarded points for every right answer and make it a competition. It has to be kept in mind that the teacher has to motivate each individual in every group.

Here, the Five-Finger Strategy can be used where instead of fingers, the colourful beads would be used to make the bracelet, with each bead denoting different elements of the story.

3. Picture Time

Picture time

Material Required: Picture Cards, Visual prompts, pen, notebook, chart paper.

  •  The teacher places the picture cards/visual prompts in front of the students 
  • All the students have to sit in a circle and begin to tell a story by arranging the picture cards in a sequence of the story and retelling it by writing it down in their books.
  • Later, the teacher can evaluate and give feedback to each pupil 

By playing with picture cards, the visual can be related to the story, and that is where the students can connect the pictures of the story they were told, and through the help of the picture cards, they will be able to retell the story.

4. Complete The Sentence

Complete the sentence

Material Required: Small bits of paper, half-written sentence, notebook, pen, big bowl.

  •  The teacher will pick the topic they taught recently and choose a paragraph from it 
  • They write an incomplete sentence from that paragraph on small bits of paper and put it in a big bowl. The sentences should be easy to read out loud for the kids. 
  • When these are read out, students raise their hands to finish them. The instructor chooses one student and asks them to answer

This activity not only tests the comprehension of the kids but also the new insights they have learned by letting them re-narrate. 

5. Riddle Me This

Riddle Me This

This activity can be played in small groups of four to retell the story.

  • Readout a riddle for the groups and they have to recognize the setting or the character from the story 
  • One after another takes changes to share more about the one variable, or the setting each and retell the narration.  
  • To guess riddles is a challenge and here the groups can compete with each other and help each other in their own groups and brainstorm the story together which makes the activity interactive.

Concluding thoughts

Improvement in comprehension and vocabulary contributes heavily to our reading experience from an early age. The strategies of retelling in spaces of home and school not only keep the student interested in reading but start to look at reading as a hobby and not just school work.

Picking up these strategies and activities in classrooms is beneficial for the development of visual perceptual skills and the effects of retelling also have an impact on the way their language evolves with time. Retelling story activities keep the interaction between peers alive and the background knowledge is exchanged between peers that enhances their development at the core and has a lasting impression on their lives.

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