Story Elements and Retelling

December 1, 2019 by

Story Elements and Retell

Story elements are the five components that make up a story.  They are the characters, setting, plot, conflict and resolution.  These elements keep the story running smoothly and allow the action to develop in a logical way that the reader can follow.

Retelling involves students orally reconstructing a story that they have read or has been read to them.  A student’s retell should include characters, settings, and events in the logical sequence of the story.

Story Structure/Elements

  • Question Sticks (“Who?”   “Where?”   “What happened?”) – Write these three questions on popsicle sticks.  After reading a story, pull out a stick and have students partner share their responses.


  • Create a Story Structure Anchor Chart (pictured below) for students to reference.  As a follow up and check for understanding, create smaller charts on paper for students to independently complete in a small group center after reading a story.

  • Send your students on a “Story Structure Scavenger Hunt”.  Quickly type up a recording page, asking them to find Characters, Settings, and at least Three Events.  After they have read a book, they can complete the Scavenger Hunt.

  • The Scavenger Hunt idea can also be used for non-fiction texts, by having them locate text features.  (Create the recording page as above, but have them “hunt” for Captions, Headings, Graphics, Charts/Maps, Glossary, Table of Contents, and Index).


  • Help your students with sequencing events in texts, by creating Sequencing Cards.  You can either make a few copies of main events from your current stories and have students put them in order, or we have an Interactive Sequencing Center for you.  This center comes with 8 stories that students are able to match pictures to text and read aloud.  They can also self-check to ensure that they are sequencing the story correctly.


  • The sequencing cards mentioned above are a great tool to help students retell a story.  After they put them in order, they can orally share the story, or record a few sentences on paper.  This is a great way to check for understanding of text and get some writing into your small groups.
  • Another fun retelling project is to use a 12 x 18 piece of construction paper and fold the bottom third up to create a pocket.  Staple the ends, so that the pocket stays in place.  Have your students fold this new piece into thirds.  Give each student three note cards and have them write a couple of sentences for the beginning, middle, and end of a story.  The note cards are then tucked into the pockets and students can illustrate their sentences on the upper part of the construction paper.

  • Use a “5 Finger Retell”.  Your thumb is the characters, index finger is the setting, middle finger is the problem (beginning), ring finger is the middle events, and pinkie is the solution (ending).  To make it a little more fun for your students, they can trace their own hands and fill in the parts.

  • Create a story board.  Take a sentence strip and have students draw pictures, write sentences, or both and glue vertically or horizontally along the sentence strip.  This is a great activity for students to partner share after completing.  Also a great speaking/listening standard tie in.

Interactive Retell

  • For a more physical approach, using a long piece of butcher paper, create a “Pathway” down the center for students to walk along as they retell a story.  I recommend creating the pathway as a class.  Along the path, have visual reminders of important pieces in a retell.  (Character, Setting, Events, Problem, Solution)

Hope you were able to grab some tricks to use in the coming weeks! Let us know in the comments if you have any additional strategies to add to this list!

-Written by Janessa Fletcher

At Education to the Core, we provide done-for-you curriculum that is simple, fun, and effective! We want you to be the very best teacher you can be, while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. In order to be an effective educator, you have to take care of you first!

We strive to make a healthy work-life balance a reality for you each and every day.If you enjoyed this blog post, be sure to join our email list to get exclusive FREEBIES, exclusive content, updates, deals!