Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Narratives and Speech Therapy

Last week was my first week back to school after having three full weeks off (thanks to a week of snow days)! Now don't judge me when I tell you this- I really just wanted a simple, easy activity to use to ease back into therapy and the rest of the school year. I had purchased this Roll and Tell Articulation Stories packet from Miss Speechie over at Speech Time Fun in December and thought that this would be perfect!

Turns out, things didn't go as smoothly as I thought. Everything was wonderful with Speech Time Fun's product, the directions are great, there is a wonderful variety of pages for my students to choose from (I used this with my language students, so I didn't care which page they choose from the stack), and they loved getting to roll the dice! The problems arose when we got to the part where they had to come up with the story elements and actually make a story. 

Small disclaimer, I use a LOT of bullet points in this post, so I'm sorry in advance :)

How did I get my students ready to make up and tell a story? 

  • I had the students tell me the story of the "Three Little Pigs." It's a classic story that almost all students should know that include memorable characters and a clear problem and solution. 
  • After they were finished, I asked what the important parts of the story were. The students were able to tell me that the story included the three pigs and the wolf, and I was able to cue them into saying that they were the characters of the story. Most students were also able to tell me about the three houses that the pigs built, which is the setting
  • The problem and solution of the story were a little bit harder for the kids to come up with. I prompted my students with sentences like "Why did the pigs move from their house to the next pig's house? What was the wolf doing to them? What could this be called in a story?" Once they decided that that was the problem, I cued them to give me the last main story element, the solution, with "Now how did the pigs solve their problem? What did they do to get away from the big bad wolf? What is this called in a story?"  
  • Once my students had knowledge of the four main story elements that I wanted to target, I played a game with them. I wrote out words and short phrases that all represented the different story elements and had the students match up the word or phrase with the story element it belonged to.
  • Now, with a concrete knowledge of story elements, we could finally finish up the great Roll and Say Game from Speech Time Fun!
I never realized how important narratives were to speech therapy until this week. Sure, I learned about them in grad school and we talked about their importance, but sometimes you have to experience something for it to make the most impact on you.

So, why are narratives so important in speech therapy?

  • I love to use storytelling to work on my student's goals! You can easily tell if they are correctly articulating their sounds, and can monitor their grammar, syntax, and semantic complexity, as well as things like predicting, story sequence, and inferencing. 
  • Children use narratives all throughout their academic careers. They are often required to retell stories in the classroom, answer WH questions about what they read, talk about life events during things such as "Show and Tell" as well as during other social interactions with both teachers and peers. 
  • On that note, the ability to tell stories and relate to different story elements are embedded in the Common Core State Standards. Here are just a few examples. This is by no means an exhaustive list, as the importance of story elements and narratives continues well into the middle and high school level: 
    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.1.2: Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.
    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.1.3: Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.
    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.1: Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.
    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.5: Describe the overall structure of a story, including describing how the beginning introduces the story and the ending concludes the action.
    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.6: Distinguish their own point of view from that of the narrator or those of the characters.
Many of my fellow bloggers have also realized the importance of narratives in speech therapy. Here's some stuff for you to check out!

So do you target narratives in your therapy sessions? If so, I'd love to hear how you do it!


  1. Wonderful post! I love your ideas for using narratives to monitor articulation goals. Such a great roundup of resources. Thanks for including me!

    Schoolhouse Talk!

  2. Thanks for the mention and the awesome tips!