Provide time for students to retell favorite nursery rhymes, poems, or stories through drama. This supports the acquisition of story language, since the students need to tell the story in their own words and think about who the characters are, the story problem, and some of the events. In addition, they need to consider how to portray these characters and events in a meaningful way.

Puppets, flannelboard stories, or simple props help students remember story details, and enable them to practice retellings independent of the teacher.

Make materials available for retellings as one of your literacy center activities. A retelling through drama can also serve as a model for a written retelling of the same story. Students will have an understanding of the story, the story structure, and the language of the text for the rewrite, and will be better able to focus on the writing of the text.

Tips for Retellings Through Drama

  • Consider stories with strong plots and a repetitive story structure.
  • Use poems and nursery rhymes that are short and lend themselves to drama.
  • Model how to retell stories by using familiar Read-Alouds and by demonstrating how to act like the story characters.
  • Give lots of opportunities for practice.
  • Provide an audience for students' retellings by inviting another class to watch.

Books That Support Retellings: Nursery Rhyme Books

Children's Television Workshop & Rigby. 1998. Jumbled Tumbled Tales & Rhymes. Crystal Lake, IL: Reed Elsevier.

Hale, Sarah J. 1990. Mary Had a Little Lamb. New York: Scholastic.

James, Frances, (Ed.). 1996. Cambridge Big Book of Nursery Rhymes. New York: Dominie Press.

Opie, Iona. 1999. Here Comes Mother Goose. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick.

Reid, Barbara. 1989. Sing a Song of Mother Goose. New York: Scholastic.

Poetry Books

Christelow, Eileen. 1989. Five Little Monkeys Jumping on a Bed. New York: Clarion Books.

de Regniers, Beatrice Schenk, Moore, Eva, Mary Michaels, & Carr, Jan (Eds.). Sing a Song of Popcorn. New York: Scholastic.

Parry, Caroline. 1991. Zoomerang-a-boomerang: Poems to Make Your Belly Laugh. New York: Puffin Books.

Prelutsky, Jack (Ed.). 1983. Random House Book of Poetry for Children. New York: Random House.

Westcott, Nadine. 1988. The Lady With the Alligator Purse. Boston: Little, Brown.

Song Books

Galdone, Paul. 1986. Over in the Meadow. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Raffi. 1989. Five Little Ducks. New York: Crown.

Rigby. 1998. KinderChants. Crystal Lake, IL: Reed Elsevier.

Scelsa, Greg. Down on the Farm. Cypress, CA: Creative Teaching Press.

Yopp, Hallie Kay and Yopp, Ruth Helen. 1997. Oo-pples and Boo-noo-noos. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace.