Early Literacy - Retelling

Retelling is an essential skill for early literacy learners because it builds the foundation for fiction comprehension. Retelling can and should  happen  during the pre-reading stage. At this stage the practice of recalling a story that they listened to reinforces both recall and listening skills. That's not to say retelling shouldn't happen in the emergent and beginning transitional stages because it absolutely should. But after the transitional stage is under way retelling really should transition to summarizing. .

Retelling VS. Summary

Let's first start with what is the difference between retelling and summary really is. When you ask a child to retell you are looking for how many details the child retained. Like the summary, you want to see if they remember the characters, setting, problem and solution. Your checking to see if  they recall most details in order. Retell really focuses on recall of details.

When we ask a child to summarize we want them to of course include the story elements (character, setting, problem and solution) and again, sequence is important. But this time, instead of a strong focus on details we are looking for the most important details that happen at the beginning, middle and end.

How to Teach Retelling

One of  the best ways to start retelling with any pre-reader is to include picture prompts. This "shows" the learner what our expectations are. Click on the graphic above to check out the retelling cards I've made for The Biggest, Best, Snowman. It includes a focus sheet with it to offer ideas to include in your plans.

This activity is just a small part of my Book Companion for The Biggest, Best Snowman. You can find that here.

My kids loved this activity. I reread the story and then they used the book to read through as they picked out the retelling picture cards to put it in order.


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