Toddler Story Structure

By 4 years old, a child should be able to re-tell the events of the day using a very simple story structure: people, place, event.

We are going to work on people, place and what happened!

Remember, story telling at this age is very simple and usually 1-3 sentences in length!

Language Milestones Targeted

Expressive Language

Receptive Language

  • Uses about 500 words 
  • Speaks with 4+ word phrases 
  • Talks about  events with a  simple story structure 
  • Understands 900 words 
  • Answers simple WH questions: who, what, where, what doing 

Dinner Time or Bedtime Chat

What You Need: Nothing special, just a time to talk

How To Use Cards:  Carve out a special time with your child to talk about the day. This is a great tradition to start now and continue throughout childhood!

Sit down with your child and ask one of the questions below. The range from the most difficult to the easiest (depending on the language level and personality of your child).

Example Questions:

  • What did you do today? 
  • What funny thing happened today?
  • What sad thing happened?
  • What was your favorite part of the day?
  • What did you do at daycare/preschool?
  • What did you play this afternoon?
  • What did you eat for dinner?
  • What did you ____(reference a specific activity that you know happened)?

Once you ask your question, give your child time to respond. Listen to their story. Hopefully, it will contain a person, place, and event such as:

“I was at school. My teacher gave us extra recess.”

This story contains:

  • Person: I and teacher
  • Place: school
  • Event: Extra Recess

If your child is missing a part, ask questions such as:

  • “Who was there?
  • “Where were you?”
  • “What happened?”

to get the rest of the needed information and then ask your child to tell the story again. When done, you tell a story and have your child listen!

TV Show

What You Need: Time to watch an episode of your child’s favorite show

How To Play: With your child, watch an episode of one of your child’s favorite shows. (Remember, less than 30 minutes of screen time is recommended per day for all children!)

While watching, pause the show if you can or wait for the commercial and ask your child to re-tell what is going on.  Make sure your child includes:

  • Person (who)
  • Place (where)
  • Event (what happened)

If your child misses a component, ask needed questions such as:

  • “Who is in the show”?
  • “Where are they?”
  • “What happened?”

Once all parts are identified, ask your child to say the story again. 


What You Need: A children’s book

How To Play: Read a story with your child. Then, after a few pages or at the end of the book, ask your child to tell the story. Make sure all 3 components, who, where, and what happened are included.

If not, ask the needed questions such as:

  • “Who was in the story?”
  • “Where are they?”
  • “What happened?”

If your child still needs help, you can always flip back and point to the pictures that help your child answer the questions. This actually models an important skill of using a book to find information. 

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