The Ultimate Guide to Retelling a Story: Tips and Techniques for Educators

The art of storytelling is a fundamental part of human culture, with stories being passed down from generation to generation. Stories can be used to entertain, educate, and inspire, making them valuable tools in the classroom. However, not all students are able to comprehend or engage with stories in their original form. That’s where retelling comes in – the process of telling a story in a simplified or modified way that is easier for students to understand. In this article, we will explore the tips and techniques educators can use to retell stories effectively and engage their students.

Why Retell Stories?

Retelling stories has many benefits for students. For example, it can improve their comprehension of complex narratives, enhance their vocabulary, and promote their listening and speaking skills. Retelling also helps students to develop their critical thinking and analytical skills by encouraging them to analyze the story’s characters, themes, and plot. In addition, retelling can enhance students’ creativity by allowing them to explore different perspectives and viewpoints. It can also promote empathy by encouraging students to put themselves in the shoes of the characters and understand their motivations and emotions.

Tips and Techniques for Retelling Stories

1. Simplify the Language

When retelling a story, it’s essential to use simple and clear language that is appropriate for the age and level of the students. This means avoiding complex sentence structures, idiomatic expressions, and unfamiliar vocabulary. Using pictures, gestures, and other visual aids can also help to make the story more accessible and engaging for students.

2. Focus on the Key Elements

Retelling a story doesn’t mean repeating it verbatim. Instead, educators should focus on the key elements of the story, such as the main characters, setting, plot, and themes. This helps students to understand the overall message of the story and its relevance to their own lives.

3. Encourage Active Listening

Active listening is an essential skill for retelling stories. To encourage active listening, educators should ask questions before and after the story to help students focus on the key elements. They can also use techniques such as pause and reflect, where students pause after each section of the story to reflect on what they have heard.

4. Use Different Perspectives

Retelling a story from different perspectives can help to promote critical thinking and empathy. For example, students can retell a story from the point of view of a different character or explore how the story would be different if it were set in a different time or place.

5. Incorporate Technology

Technology can be a valuable tool in retelling stories. For example, educators can use digital storytelling tools such as Animoto or Adobe Spark to create multimedia presentations that include pictures, audio, and video. They can also use online resources such as YouTube or podcasts to find retellings of popular stories.

Additional Considerations

When retelling stories, there are a few additional considerations that educators should keep in mind to ensure that the process is effective and engaging for their students.

1. Tailor the Retelling to the Students’ Needs

When retelling a story, educators should consider the needs of their students, including their age, language proficiency, and cultural background. They should choose stories that are appropriate for their student’s level and interests, and adapt the retelling accordingly. For example, educators may need to simplify the language further for students who are not native speakers of the language.

2. Use a Variety of Stories

To keep students engaged, educators should use a variety of stories from different genres and cultures. This helps to broaden their students’ knowledge and understanding of different perspectives and experiences. Educators can also encourage their students to share stories from their own cultures and backgrounds, promoting mutual respect and understanding.

3. Provide Opportunities for Practice

Retelling stories is a skill that requires practice. Educators should provide their students with opportunities to practice retelling stories in different formats, such as through drama, puppet shows, or comic strips. They should also provide feedback and support to help their students improve their retelling skills.

4. Make it Fun

Finally, retelling stories should be fun! Educators can make the process more engaging by using creative and interactive methods, such as games or role-playing. They can also encourage their students to use their imaginations and come up with their own retellings of the story.

Examples of Retelling Stories

To illustrate the tips and techniques discussed above, here are some examples of how educators can retell stories effectively:

Example 1: “The Three Little Pigs”

To retell the classic story “The Three Little Pigs,” an educator might simplify the language and use visual aids such as pictures or puppets. They could focus on the key elements of the story, such as the three pigs and the wolf, and ask questions before and after the story to encourage active listening. To promote critical thinking, they could ask students to retell the story from the perspective of the wolf or the pigs or explore how the story might be different if it were set in a different location or time period.

Example 2: “The Boy Who Cried, Wolf”

To retell the story “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” an educator might use a digital storytelling tool such as Animoto to create a multimedia presentation that includes pictures, audio, and video. They could focus on the key elements of the story, such as the boy, the villagers, and the wolf, and incorporate different perspectives by asking students to retell the story from the perspective of the boy, the villagers, or the wolf. They could also encourage students to come up with their own retellings of the story, such as a modern-day version set in a school or neighborhood.

Example 3: “The Tortoise and the Hare”

To retell the fable “The Tortoise and the Hare,” an educator might use drama or role-playing to engage their students. They could assign students roles as the tortoise or the hare, and act out the story as a class. To promote critical thinking, they could ask students to come up with different endings to the story or explore how the story might be different if it were set in a different location or time period.


Retelling stories is a valuable tool for educators to engage their students and promote language and critical thinking skills. By using techniques such as simplifying the language, focusing on key elements, encouraging active listening, using different perspectives, and incorporating technology, educators can create an environment that is both fun and educational. Examples such as the retelling of “The Three Little Pigs,” “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” and “The Tortoise and the Hare” illustrate how educators can use retelling effectively in the classroom. With these tips and techniques, educators can inspire their students and create a love of learning that will last a lifetime.

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