Mini Unit

Integrating Storytelling with Science and Writing


Title: Storytelling and the Pre-writing Process

Grade: 2nd

Objective: Students will generate a basic story idea and further develop the details through telling the story orally to several small groups, where they will receive feedback.

Rationale: Second graders often get the outline of a story down but fail to add the interesting details that make it worth reading. Through telling the story several times students will be able to incorporate many new details prior to the “commitment” of writing it down.



First Session:

1.     Card Communities- Students will be divided into three groups around the room. Each group is given 100 construction paper cards. They are to silently build a community with their cards. The only rule is that they cannot bend the cards. Encourage creating buildings, roads, lakes, rivers, houses, schools, etc.

2.     As the communities are being finished up hand out the basic story plan worksheet. Walk students through the whole plan having them develop a story that goes with the town that they have created. Encourage naming the community, describing where it is, and what is special about it. Students are working individually during this time and can create names for the different structures that have been built in the community. See attached worksheet for specific questions that will help guide their ideas for each section.


Second Session:

3.     Have students reread their plan and add in any new details that they feel should be there.

4.     Have them come together on the carpet where you will model telling an oral story. Have them try to identify the main characters, setting, problem, trouble, climax, fix it, and end. At the end of the telling review what the different parts of the story were. Then, discuss what they enjoyed about how you told the story. Finally, have them ask clarifying questions about the story you told.

5.     Count students off by 8 forming them into groups of 3. Assign the first student to tell their story. Prior to them beginning have them arrange themselves in a position where they can give eye contact to the teller and are not going to need to change positions. Describe how a good listener attends to the teller, does not talk or whisper, or fiddle with anything.  Give each person in the group 2-3 minutes to tell their story. Do not have students give feed back during this telling. Encourage them to add new details and delete boring ones.


6.     Recount students off by 8 and rearrange into their new groups of 3-4. After these tellings, have the listeners give feedback. They should identify their favorite part and ask one question about the story. Encourage them to change the story by adding new details.


Session three


7.     Count students off by 6 forming groups of 4-5. Give the teller 3-4 minutes to retell their story. This time students in the group need to ask a question about the character, setting, or problem. If the teller does not know the answer they must make it up. Model this by asking the first 6 tellers a variety of questions when they have finished telling. Students must identify what their question is about before they ask their question. Encourage them to add new details and delete boring ones.


Session four


8.     Count students off by 6 and have them meet in their groups. Have them tell their stories in 3-4 minutes.

9.     Have them return to their seats and write down the latest version of their story in story format on white lined paper. Encourage them to continue to add more details as they are writing.



          The final written draft will be compared to their original plan. From this comparison and my knowledge of their writing skills I will be able to determine their success with using storytelling as a prewriting tool.



          Students will make a plaster mask, either of a character in the story or just one to use while storytelling.  They will then tell their story to the class using their mask.



How it all turned out…


          Storytelling is definitely a prewriting tool that I will use again. It was so much fun to see their stories and comfort levels evolve with each of their tellings. Not everyone added their details into their written work. Next time I will be more careful to emphasize even more that the point of the project is that those final details will emerge in their writing. Transitions and interesting words were the biggest areas that I found growth in.  Overall there was growth in everyone’s writing. Taking the time to plan and revise orally, before writing, was definitely worth taking.

          We have made the plaster bases for the masks and the students are dying to decorate theirs. We will begin telling our stories to the class when our masks are completed.