This is one of those books that I think most of you already use and love:
I loved and used most of Don and Audrey Wood’s picture books. There are so many great ones!
The Napping House is a wonderful book for sequencing – and also to reinforce the story element – characters. It is a simple, repetitive story that children love to hear and act out. I often used this book during our Healthy Me unit – when we talked about getting enough sleep at night.
Another great use for this book is to teach descriptive language – it is a super resource for a writing mini-lesson on describing words. Audrey included great vocabulary by adding an adjective to each character:
The illustrations are wonderful too – and it usually takes more than one reading for the children to notice the change of the weather in the story.
This was so simple to act out- I asked the children to remember the characters of the story – as they recalled them, I passed out a necklace for each character.
I looked for clipart of a child that didn’t specifically look like a boy or a girl.
For the wakeful flea I used a hand puppet of an insect that I had in my room.
I used different things for the “cozy bed.” Sometimes I just put a strip of brown paper on the carpet, sometimes I used a balance beam.
As the whole class helped retell the story, the child wearing the necklace of the snoring granny laid on their back, on the floor next to the “bed.”
As we named each character through the story – that child laid down, side by side on the carpet until they were all lined up in a row.
The child chosen to be the wakeful flea gently “bit” the mouse – we usually had a discussion of appropriate “biting” in the story. They went through the sequence waking up each of the characters.
This story was so quick to act out that we usually repeated it until every child had a chance to be one of the characters.
I also made characters for my flannelboard to retell this story.
For these characters I bought heavy weight, non-fusible interfacing (Pellon) from a fabric store – it is pretty cheap. I just laid the Pellon over clipart pictures of the characters and traced them, then colored them with markers. If you use non-permanent markers you might need to leave them out to dry overnight so the color doesn’t rub off.
I made a large flannelboard by covering a piece of masonite with a dark solid color of felt, and taped it on the back with duct tape.
I often made retelling props for my magnet board too – I just copied clipart (or sometimes xeroxed pictures from the book), then I usually mounted them on card stock or construction paper to make them more durable – then laminated them and added a small piece of magnetic tape. In some classrooms there are metal cabinets or chalkboards that work great for magnetized pictures. My husband made me a large magnet board by making a frame for a big piece of steel.
The children love to use this kind of prop at circle time to retell stories, and they are also great to leave out as a retelling center. I know that it is a commitment to take the time to create these retelling props – but once you make them you keep and use them for years. If you have a teaching partner it would be great for you to make props for different stories, and then share them!
In my district we had to assess reading levels using DRA2 -after each book the child read he/she had to retell the story to demonstrate their comprehension. I found that my children were so comfortable with the whole idea of remembering and retelling stories when I made a point to include these activities often.
After acting out the story the children did an activity that gave me good information about how engaged they had been in our retelling, a peek at their phonetic spelling, and whether they attempted to remember the adjectives!
I copied this picture onto the bottom half of 9 x 12 light blue construction paper.
Then I folded the blue paper so it was 9 x 6, with the fold at the top, and the picture on the front.
Each child cut out a simple bed from a rectangle of brown construction paper and drew and labeled all the characters in the correct sequence. It always amazed me that the children who didn’t remember all the characters didn’t usually look at the picture and figure it out!
Here are the masters if you are interested: