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Listening And Responding To Storytelling

Grades K-5


Oral Language


Common Core State Standards

• SL.K.2 Confirm understanding of a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media by asking and answering questions about key details and requesting clarification if something is not understood
• SL.1.2 Ask and answer questions about key details in a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.
• SL.2.2 Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.
• SL.3.2 Ask and answer questions about information from a speaker, offering appropriate elaboration and detail.
• SL.4.2 Paraphrase portions of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
• SL.5.4 Report on a topic or text or present and opinion, sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.


Success in speaking and listening provides a sound basis for reading and writing. As reading and writing develop, understanding of the written language will enhance speaking and listening. Storytelling is a powerful medium for both speaking and listening. A well-told story can expand children’s knowledge of the world, of language structure, increase vocabulary acquisition, and also provide sheer enjoyment. Listening to stories helps children understand their world and how people communicate about it.


When children listen to stories, they use their imaginations. They picture “nail soup” or the “teeny, tiny woman” from the teller’s vivid descriptions. This creativity is dependent upon the storyteller’s lively telling of the story and the listener’s active interpretation of what is heard. The more delightful the story and the storyteller, the more the children get out of the whole experience.


Storytelling with young children provides special possibilities as well as unique challenges. Very young children enjoy predictability, repetition, humor, and active participation in the story presentation. When stories are too complicated or the storyteller is too dramatic, the child will “turn off” or simply move away from the experience. Older children enjoy listening to dramatic and exciting stories filled with vivid details that paint the picture of the drama involved.


Listening to a story is the precursor to reading or writing a story. If a child can tell/retell a story, then he/she can begin to learn to read a story and also record his/her own story in writing.



A story that is familiar enough to the storyteller that it can be told without books or pictures.

Excellent stories for young listeners often have one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Easy-to-follow sequence

  • Repetitive words and phrases

  • Predictable and cumulative tales

  • Action–packed

  • Often humorous

  • Interesting and entertaining happenings

  • Exciting endings with an appropriate conclusion

  • Clear message or moral


Direct Explanation

I am going to tell you a story about…. I want you to listen closely to what I am about to tell you and let the words make pictures in your mind as you listen. See if you can make a movie in your head of the story that you are hearing. When I am finished, I am going to ask you to tell someone something that you really liked from the story.”



The teacher will dramatically tell a story that is well known to him/her. Make sure that plenty of details are included that can help children understand it with all of their senses. Include details that involve the five senses; seeing, smelling, touching, hearing, and tasting! It could be a fairy tale, a folk tale, or a personal story from real life.

General Storytelling Tips
  • Observe the young children during the telling. Adjust and make clarifications as needed.

  • Encourage interaction and participation.

  • Modify the pace and length to match the experiential and developmental level of the children in the audience.

  • Use voice variations, facial expressions, gestures, and repetitive phrases to draw the young listener into the story.

  • Use appropriate words and descriptions that help young children imagine the happenings in their mind’s eye.

  • Retell the same story many times, since young children are building their understanding of the story.


Guided Practice

In pairs, the students will take turns telling personal responses to a partner; for instance, telling something that they really liked or were interested in from the story. Then ask for a few individual responses to share with the whole group.


Independent Practice

Without prompting, students will be able to listen to storytelling and orally share personal responses to the story with a partner.



Teacher observation of partner discussions after listening to storytelling.


Tier II Additions

  • Same as Tier I with additional times to listen to the story and/or have some points previewed.

  • Allow students to have extra practice sessions before presenting to class.


Tier II Assessments

Same as Tier I


Tier III Accommodations/Modifications

  • Allow student to have extra practice sessions before presenting to class.

  • Pre-teach important vocabulary.


Tier III Assessment

Allow student to have extra time to discuss and to use pictures/icons as prompts in the discussion.


Tier IV Modifications
  • Student will have the story told to them multiple times using simplified language and supported by picture/icons.

  • Practice retelling using picture/icon prompts.

  • Listen to themselves retelling the story.

  • Pre-teach important vocabulary.


Tier IV Assessment:

Student will retell simplified story using the picture/icon prompts.


Tier V Modifications
  • Student will listen to simplified story multiple times

  • Picture/icons will be used to help student remember portions of the story

  • Student will practice retelling story using pictures/icons

  • Pre-teach important vocabulary


Tier V Assessment

Retell story by using pictures/icons (does not have to retell orally if non-speaking).

Use augmentative/alternative communication system to retell story.




Education Department of Western Australia (2004). Oral Language Developmental Continuum. Salem, MA: Steps Professional Development & Consulting


Education Department of Western Australia (2004). Oral Language Resource Book. Salem, MA: Steps Professional Development & Consulting


Gentile, Lance M. (2003). The Oracy Instructional Guide. Carlsbad, CA: Dominie Press, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Arkansas Department of Education. All rights reserved. School districts may reproduce these materials for in-school student use only. No resale. Materials may not be reproduced, distributed or sold for commercial use or profit. ADE employees are not authorized to waive these restrictions.

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