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Language and Communication Recall key information from a story  This resource has been viewed by a moderator.


To recall 4 or more pieces of key information from a short story.

Early years skill:not specified
Early years typical range:not specified
P-scales/Nat. Curriculum skill:English Listening
P-scales/Nat. Curriculum level:L1b
TAP skill:Language Understanding
TAP level:TAP56
Section:Primary (5-11yrs) info; Secondary (11-16yrs) info
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Activity/strategy name and materials required How to do the activity Key principles for doing the activity and comments
Stories that the child isn't familiar with.

Stories could be taken from reading books, or from picture sequence cards. (For example 'And then' published by Schubi).

Read chunks of the story to the child, or tell the story from the sequence cards. The chunks should be 100 to 200 words long (2 -4 paragraphs) and/or contain between four and six things that happen. (Use shorter chunks if this is too long for the child).

Ask the child to retell the chunk you have read.

The child could also be asked to reconstruct the story using drawing, using miniatures (e.g. playmobil), selecting and ordering cards from a set of picture sequence cards.

For the child to gain more information from stories and explanations at other times he/she will be assisted by the use of visuals to support , and also by being asked a question before hearing the story or explanation so that he/she has something to focus his/her listening on.

If the child has difficulties you can help him/her to recall the story using the following:

Ask a question relevant to the key information in the story. For example, suppose this was part of the story: "Lucy rode her red bicycle down the hill. At the bottom she couldn't stop and fell straight into the fish pond..." Relevant questions would be 'What did Lucy do', 'What happened to Lucy at the bottom of the hill': avoid asking questions about details which aren't particularly relevant to the story such as 'What colour was Lucy's bike?';

Ask the child the question then re-read the part of the story which contains the answer to the question;

Show him/her part of the story using pictures.

Try to guide the child to recall the information with the minimum amount of prompts necessary. Try to avoid the situation where you need to say what the answer is. If you keep needing to do this despite using the ideas above then the story is probably too hard.

Unfamiliar instructions

At first it will be necessary to tell the child they are going to be asked to retell the instruction to you before they hear the instruction.

If the child finds it challenging, help them to use a visual cue. This could be chunking the information on their fingers for shorter instructions, or making notes on a piece of paper or on a white board for longer ones

Audio Stories

Short stories on tape or CD

Clips of a favourite TV or computer programme

To make this more difficult, ask questions where the child needs to infer information from what he/she heard, rather than just remembering the right phrases.


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