Narrative skills have been the focus in room 10 this month. A “narrative” is a story. People tell narratives all the time, for many reasons. I may tell a narrative about my morning (why was I late today?), a narrative to explain an event (“Officer, I swear I have a good reason for going that fast…“), or a narrative to make a connection with another person (“I remember that something like that happened to me one time!“). Kids use narratives to express their ideas, tell jokes, and explain things that happen to adults. Adults use narratives to teach, share information, and connect with children. Narratives are all around us!

Students with language impairments can struggle telling stories that make sense. They may not include all of the parts of a story, or it may be in a mixed-up order. They may not tell their listener who is in the story, or where it is happening.

There are several important parts of a story. At a basic level, a story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

The beginning of a story includes the characters (people or animals who are named in the story), the setting (where is the story happening?), and an event (something that happens).

The middle of a story includes another event, often a problem. The middle of a simple story may contain more than one event, but when teaching basic story structure, I usually limit the stories to no more than 3 events in the middle.

The end of a story includes the conclusion. The conclusion resolves the problem and/or wraps up the story.

I’ve posted before about the George and Martha book series by James Marshall. This series is perfect for working on beginning/middle/end story structure. Each book contains 5 mini-stories, each with a clear and simple story structure. The stories are funny and engaging, and also rely heavily on the student’s ability to make inferences. These stories are a great way to practice narrative structure at home.

How to practice narrative structure at home:

  1. Read a story with your child
  2. After the story, ask questions about the story.
    • Who were the characters in the story?
    • Where did the story happen? (setting)
    • What happened at the beginning?
    • What happened next? What was the problem in the story? (events)
    • How did the story end? (conclusion)
  3. If your child does not know the answer to a question, go back together and find the answer in the book.
  4. Have your child retell the story to you in their own words. The retell can happen right away, or a day or two later.

More narrative resources:

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