Toddler Story Structure

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If this is your first time here, please read the introduction. It is necessary! If you have been here before, jump down to the games and download your copies!

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The VERY important skill of narrative/story structure begins around 3-4 years of age . This skill is crucial for writing, reading comprehension, expressive language abilities and social language skills. By 4 years of age, a child should be able to tell:

  • Who a story is about (characters)
  • Where it takes place (location)
  • What happens (event)

Read through all the ideas first and then pick one to try per day or over a few days. Once you discover which one gets the most language output from your child, try to do this activity EVERYDAY! It is a great way to bond with your child and work on story structure skills. 

What’s Included:

  • Activities to practice telling stories
  • Easily printable handouts
  • Space provided to make notes, ask questions, etc...

Recommended Use:

  • Pick an activity and print it out. 
  • Place the activity in a frequented spot to help remind yourself to try it out for a few days. 
  • Jot down some notes on what seems to work and what does not.

Story Structure Games

1. Share a Story

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 life! Sit down with your child and ask one of the questions below. They 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: Teacher and I
  • 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. Then ask your child to tell the story again. When done, you tell a story and have your child listen!

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2. TV Show

What You Need: 

Time to watch an episode of your child’s favorite show with your child

How To Play: 

With your child, watch an episode of one of your child’s favorite shows. 

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 a needed question 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. 

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3. Reading

What You Need: 

A children’s book that matches your child’s language ability and attention

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 a needed questions such as:

  • “Who was in the story?”
  • “Where were hey?”
  • “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. 

Then, have your child retell the story again.

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› Story Structure


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