Teaching and Practicing Narrative Formulation

Storytelling for Kids: 7 Tips for Teaching and Practicing Narrative Formulation

Storytelling is a critical component of language and communication. However, it can sometimes be a challenge for our kids. Check out this article for 7 tips for teaching and practicing storytelling with your kids

We all know how fun it can be for our kids to create and share fun, unique stories. Whether it be a narrative about a personal experience, a retell of their favorite book, or a fiction story created from their imagination, it can sometimes be difficult for children to keep their stories cohesive, while still including key story elements. In other instances, story elements may be included, but in the incorrect order. If story elements are presented in an unexpected way, comprehension of the overall story can be diminished. Here are some quick tips for teaching and practicing narrative formulation with your kids to ensure that their stories are not too long, not too short, but just right.


1. Review Narrative Strucutre

  • Make sure you explicitly teach your children that all stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end, even if the end is a cliffhanger!

2. Introduce "Story Words"

  • Use first, then, next, and last to teach sequencing of events of problems that take place in your child's narratives.

3. Teach Story Grammar Elements 

  • Review the parts of a story with your child prior to storytelling. MindWing Concepts' Story Grammar Marker is a manipulative tool for narrative development that is useful in teaching children key story grammar elements. The Story Grammar Marker is broken down into the following parts:
    • Characters: who or what is the story about?
    • Setting: where or when does the story take place?
    • Initiating Event (Kick-Off): what happens to the character to cause him/her to do something?
    • Internal Response: how does the character feel about what happened?
    • Plan: what does the character want to do?
    • Attempts: what actions does the character take to achieve the plan?
    • Obstacle: is there a complication to the plan? If so, there is a new kick-off. 
    • Direct Consequence (Tie-Up): what happens as a reuslt of the attempts?
    • Resolution: how does the character feel about the direct consequence? Is there a lesson learned at the end of the story? 

4. Practice

  • Write the parts of a story on index cards and have your child sequence the parts that go within the introduction, the body, and the conclusion.
  • Read a story together with your child and have them identify the story grammar elements as you read along.
  • Read a story to your child and have them retell the story using story grammar elements. 
  • Use several different stories with the same story grammar elements to teach story grammar. This will promote generalization and metalinguistic development. 

5. Use Visual Supports 

  • It's ok for your child to use visuals (pictures, graphic organizers, drawings, icons) when learning the structure of a story. This multisory component helps make abstract concepts more tangible and concrete for your them. 

6. Provie Feedback

  • Use active listening to offer feedback when your child is telling a story. You can do so by nodding your head, smiling, making eye contact and recasting (taking a child's previouisly spoken utterance to include corrective details). 
  • If your child is not including specific story elements, a correction may be needed. Make feedback construction, and eliminate attention around being incorrect. You can provide a direct model of what the child should say to allow them the opportunity to try again.
  • Provide immediate feedback instead of delayed feedback in a natural way instead of waiting until the end of the story to provide a correction. Practiced errors are more likely to continue.
  • Make feedback specific. Instead of saying "Oops you forgot something", try telling your child "Oops, you forgot to tell me the character's plan." Vague corrections can cause confusion or frustration. 

7. Make it Fun

  • Engage in roley plays, using props, puppets or movement related to the stories being told. Research suggests that combining movement with storytelling enhances children's language outcomes (Duncan et al., 2019). Have your child dress up or put on a performance for family members! 
  • Use exaggerated facial expressions and exclamations to show your child you are listening
  • Make stories silly. Come up with unique characters and silly settings.

Storytelling is a critical component of language and communication. Not only does it create endless learning opportunities for our children, but it allows us to attach meaning to past experiences. It helps us connect with and understand one another. We you use these seven  tips to make storytelling a fun learning experience for all. 


Duncan, M., Cunningham, A., & Eyre, E. (2019).A combined movement and story-telling intervention enhances motor competence and language ability in pre-schoolers to a greater extent than movement or story-telling alone.European Physical Education Review, 25(1), 221–235.https://doi.org/10.1177/1356336X17715772


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