Sunday, March 30, 2014

Day 30 SoL Story Challenge: Oral Storytelling and Revision

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For the past week or so, Little L has figured out that I cannot resist letting her stay up a few extra minutes to record a story before bedtime. It's becoming a new bedtime routine! (Not sure yet if it's one I really want to keep… we'll see…)

L surprised me tonight. For weeks her stories have revolved around chipmunks, squirrels, bunnies, and other woodland critters in different fantastical, magical settings and situations. Tonight she told a much more realistic story, with dogs as the main characters, a throwback to her her "younger" days. (I know, she's four, how much younger can you really get! But the three year old Little L used to exclusively tell stories about our dog and dogs in general).

Doggy Runs Away

Once upon a time there was a little puppy and its mother was a golden retriever, and it was a polka dot… it was a silver polka dotted golden retriever, and they lived together in a dog house. And their owner… and the mom person was Goldie, and the little one was Jamie, and the dad was Richard, and the dog… and those were the two pets. And one day the doggies decided that they wanted to… um… run away… so the two dogs ran away. And the next morning when the owners woke up they didn't' see the dogs in the doghouse. Then they looked and looked and looked and looked and LOOKED and LOOKED and LOOKED but they could not find the dogs. So they went to dog proovenary (???) shows. And they found the dogs and brought them home and put a fence around their doghouse so they wouldn't run away again. The… and they got to go to dog races training, and the end. And the dog race training, you get... dogs get to be trained how to do human stuff. The end.

Just after I put the camera down, Little L said, "I know why the dogs wanted to run away."

"Oh, really?" I asked.

"Yeah, they really wanted to go to dog race training school."

"Well, you could tell the story again and put that in there. You could have them talk to each other, so that it shows what they're thinking. You know, about sneaking off to go to dog race training school."

"Can I stay up and do it over?" L asked excitedly.

I sighed. "Sure, why not?"

Once upon a time there was two dogs. And Lucy, and… Once upon a time there was a little girl and her name was Carrie, uh… Carrager… no… yeah, and her name was Lucy… and Lucy, um, REALLY wanted a puppy golden retriever and a mom golden retriever and her mom said, "No… No Lucy we can't, cuz theyll… cuz cuz they won't stay at home." 

"Aw, don't worry. Golden retrievers puppies and moms are the best at staying. Kids, dads, they run away. That's all it is," said Lucy. 

"Come on Lucy" 

So… finally, finally her mom letted her get a puppy golden retriever and a mom golden retriever, and then the, the first night they got them one  said, "Lets go to dog training race school" 

But the other one said "No, cause our owners won't let them." 

THen the other, then the puppy said, "Hey I know, let's sneak OUT now."  So they snuck out… ooop. 

Today race, the dog race, the dog, the animal race training school. 

And then the next morning they woke up, and then the golden retrievers were missing. Then they looked and looked and looked and looked and looked and looked and looked but they couldn't find the golden retrievers. So they decided to look at the animal race training school. And they were there. And finally they figured out. They should bring them back home, put  them in the doghouse and put a fence around so they should never ever escape again.

The end. 

Little L sat for a few seconds in thought. I was putting my camera down and about to tuck her in to bed when she said, "And the moral of the story is…" I scrambled for my camera! How could I miss this!

"Wait! Do it again!"

"And the moral of the story is… if you ever lose your pet, go look for it. The end. Done. The end."

Notes: I have no idea when we read a story that a moral of the story ending--maybe she heard one at school. I also have no idea where the names Lucy, Jamie, Carrie, and Richard come from, they seem more like names from my generation than hers! The golden retriever thing sort of makes sense because she asks me constantly to tell stories about my dog, Bob, a golden retriever that I grew up with.

In the classroom, when I'm working with young kids, I often give time for kids to tell their stories aloud many times to their writing partner to rehearse before they write. This encourages them to revise their story again and again before they even put their pen on the page. Some prompts I often use to encourage revision in oral storytelling include:

* Put in what you were saying. "I said…"
* Describewhat things looked like. "I saw…"
* Describe what things felt like. "I felt…"
* Put in what you were thinking. "I thought…"
* Say exactly what you were doing. "I was…"
* Try using expression in your voice so it's very exciting, or scary, or calm like it's a bedtime story, or fancy like it's a fairy tale.
* Try using gestures or drama to act out your story as you tell it.

A little prompting goes a long, long way. I usually just pick one and give kids time to play around with it. Like with L. Just prompting for a little dialogue transformed the second version of her doggy story!


  1. She's going to be staying up well past her bedtime to continue this nighttime ritual well into April. I do love it. She's like your teaching assistant. It's awesome how Little L helps you illustrate fantastic points about revision. :)

  2. Brilliant. But, she knows how a story goes...down to that "the moral of the story" - and that comes from all the hours spent reading with those who love her. It's a strong foundation.

  3. Those story telling prompts are superb. Yes, a little prompting goes a long way!