Retell Literacy Center: 20 Famous Story Retelling Ideas and Printables

My literacy centers are a core part of our kindergarten schedule. They are active literacy centers that keep us on our toes and working so that I can work with small groups.

Today, let me share my kindergarten retell literacy center directions, expectations and a list of the 20 stories that make up this year-long center in our classroom.

Most of the stories that I place into the retell literacy center are pretty famous (or at least well known within the world of kindergarten teachers) but there may be one or two new stories for you! It’s all about how I’ve added found and hand-made items (many for super cheap or free) to bring these stories alive.

I’m going to be honest with you – this literacy center is the one I enjoy “spying” on the most while I’m reading with my guided reading groups.

I strain from halfway across the room to hear the book language my kinders are using and to listen to the biggest billy goat gruff say, “Well come along! I’ve got two hard horns and four hard hooves. See what you can do!” {wink}

Students retell the story by using their own recall or by attempting to read well-loved books.

20 famous story retelling ideas and printables - kindergarten retell literacy center

The best props

What materials does it take? Anything you can find!

I’ve made lots of my “props,” but many of them came from scanning pictures in a book, finding freebies in the FREE box at garage sales, and the Dollar Tree.

Any left over beanie babies? You may just have a few characters you need for Polar Bear, Polar Bear…

Click any picture to read more about the book, get printables and instructions on how to make it yourself!

How to makeit successful

How do my kinders know these books so well that they can retell them independently? I understand that to avoid frustration with kinders – they must know what to do and be very familiar with it before they can and will do it independently.

It’s not boring to them, they love it when its familiar and they know how to do it on their own. {It’s the same reason they can watch the same movie over and over and over.}

We read the book until they are familiar with it and can almost repeat it word for word. {}

KindergartenWorks: 20 famous story retelling ideas and printables - kindergarten retell literacy center

The first time is always just for read aloud pleasure, then the work begins dissecting the book.

Each literacy center in my classroom has a poster which dictates what their activity options are. In this particular retell center – it is simple… they only get one option.

I like to offer choice wherever I can in centers – so in this instance, choice comes into play with what book(s) they choose.

KindergartenWorks: 20 famous story retelling ideas and printables - kindergarten retell literacy center

Retell Literacy Center Directions and Standards Poster

While this center does meet CC standards, I often see lots of cooperative learning and social skill building going on here too… which is a bonus!

They’d rather retell with more kinders than less to share the parts. It’s pretty great.

How to set up this literacy center

Read Aloud and Rehearse

Having laid that out, I want you to know that we will generally read the story aloud at least four times before ever releasing it into this center. We retell it as a class on the last reading (giving them a chance to see the retell prop materials in action).

Keep the set up simple

  • Choose a bucket/bin they can put all of the pieces into – including the book and props. I really like using Dollar Store bins for this center but did use book baskets as well over the years.
  • Use a velcro label on the front is perfect to switch out the materials and a picture of the book so everything gets returned to the right bucket.
  • Grab a couple of blankets to create a floor mat, stage or cozy retelling space.
  • Have a copy of the book that is just for this center (if you can). It will get lots of love and need replacing in a few years, but the price in value is golden.
KindergartenWorks: 20 famous story retelling ideas and printables - kindergarten retell literacy center

Keep it fresh all year long

To keep it fresh all year long, I simply change out the books as we learn more and then throw in some favorite older ones. We normally have 4-5 out at the center during the school year. Here is a list of the famous 20 books in our classroom.

Famous kindergarten books to retell

It makes me laugh at the end of the year when I put in one or two of the first books we ever did and they’re like, “I don’t really remember the words to this one.”

All it takes is me saying, “Have you tried reading the words to see if you can do it on your own?” They beam because by this point they aren’t just “remembering” the words like they were at the beginning of the year – they are reading!

Retell literacy center standards

This literacy center is all about developing a love of books by playing out the parts, recalling text, and every part of a story. Know those Common Core standards that are all about the parts of a story?

  • K.RL.1 – With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
  • K.RL.2 – With prompting and support, retell familiar stories, including key details.
  • K.RL.3 – With prompting and support, identify characters, setting and major events in a story.

Well, this center is fondly known to me as the center where books come alive, I see my students recreating the book’s setting, becoming the characters {oh, and they won’t leave out a single one} and living out the major events and key details.

With a few props and a lot of imagination, this center is always a favorite!

I hope with this collection of resources, you too can have a fantastic year-long literacy center and enjoy “spying” on your kinders as they are learning in their own retell-imagination bubble.

If you like what I do here on KindergartenWorks, subscribe today. I look forward to sharing ideas with you weekly!

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  1. Could you please explain the directions given to the students regarding their work in the retelling center. Are they working together to produce a group retelling? If so, how do they decide on rolls, jobs etc? (I could see some problems here because everyone will want to work with the”fun” prop! I know you have a solution for that problem!)
    Or, are they working individually on their own retelling ? Who is the audience? Do the children takes turns in that role?

    1. Hi Eileen,
      The directions are pretty basic. I don’t dictate how they have to retell and if they have to do it as a group. We model performing for an audience (the rest of the class) when we do it together before releasing it into the center. Normally they are very good about choosing on their own what they’d like to do. It’s part of the cooperative learning process as they talk about what stories they want to retell, which parts they want to play and how they set it all up. If everyone wants a turn with a certain prop, then they could potentially retell it a few times taking turns. I actually didn’t have that problem more than a handful of times over 10 years. I encouraged them to talk out a solution. They can perform for each other, but most often in my small groups of 3 I saw 1 be the narrator/reader and the other 2 take turns using the objects to tell the story. Then they’d get another story and repeat but often switching up the roles.
      I hope that can help!
      – Leslie

  2. I noticed in your descriptiuon you mentioned what time of year you read each book. Would you mind listing them in order from beginning of the year to end of the year? Thanks!

  3. You are a great and beautiful person, Leslie! Thank you for sharing these to us. May you and your be blessed bountiful. You are giving enormous help to a lot of parents and teachers 😀

  4. If you want to take this a step further, have your children draw a picture or take pics of the retelling each part and make a simple class book. Add a class list with a space for comments next to each name, bind, and let the children take turns taking it home to share and re read to their families. I just did this with Mary Wore Her Red Dress.

    1. Clever Priscilla! I can definitely see tying more literacy into every story! We love to retell most of these through some typed of shared or interactive writing piece which allows me to bring in the conventions of writing too. Thanks for sharing your tips!
      – Leslie

  5. Hey there! I love your “There was an old lady…” story props. Would you by any chance have the Simms Taback version available to download? Thanks! 🙂

  6. I LOVE this post Leslie!!! I was looking up literacy activities for little ones and your post popped up to my surprise 🙂 Will be using this post for our future Baby Book Club meetups <3 xoxo Mor

  7. All of your retell posts are getting me enthused to add another work station option for my kinder kiddos! Thanks for all the sharing!!!!!


    Carried Away in…K!

  8. Where did you find the printouts for the very hungry caterpillar (the ones with holes in the fruit) and the old lady with the hole in her stomach? Those are wonderful!

  9. i also have just discovered sheets of magnetic paper you can print right onto….all kinds of possiblities

  10. do you know of the web site ? it has all kinds of books that you can print out the “flannel board” pieces for. I print them right onto “milk filters” the kind that you buy from farm supply stores for milking machines and cut to fit your printer….

  11. I love this idea for a center!!! I usually just put the flannel board story pieces with the flannel board. Your ideas will be something that they will enjoy!

  12. What excitement you all have to share in your voices! Thanks for sharing your feedback! Jennie, most items that are literacy center materials have been updated to have the common core standards (like on the posters). Thanks for asking!

    I tried to touch base with stayandplay mama – hopefully her amazing items will be back up soon!

  13. What excitement you all have to share in your voices! Thanks for sharing your feedback! Jennie, most items that are literacy center materials have been updated to have the common core standards (like on the posters). Thanks for asking!

    I tried to touch base with stayandplay mama – hopefully her amazing items will be back up soon!

  14. Fantastic post. You have inspired me to create this center for next year.
    I, too, and having trouble getting to the Stay and Play mama website. I’ve been there many times in the past, but today it says I need to be invited. Any ideas, anyone?

  15. I LOVE this post…i need to “re-think” and “re-do” this center for my kinders next year. One thing…for some reason i can not open the links on the “Stay and Play Mama” blogspot…am I doing something wrong?
    As always, your things are awesome! One other quick question…have you changed all of your wonderful things to match “Common Core” standards. I have purchased a lot of your things before the common core was put in place…no big deal either way…just a question!
    Thanks again for everything you do!
    Jennie in Southern Indiana

  16. I am new to blogging and can not believe all the goodness I’ve been missing. I don’t know how I’m going to catch up or take in all these great ideas. I found you through the birthday giveaway. I definitely am looking forward to checking out all your great ideas!! Thanks

  17. This is such a great way to develop language along with retell. Thanks for sharing with us. I can’t wait to see all the links. I purchased many things from Lakeshore but also made a few pieces of my own. I love to just scan pictures from the book, laminate and add felt on the back.

  18. Love your ideas! I have a station for re-tell…but had never thought about doing Chicka Chicka Boom Boom with magnet letters…duh!? Where have I been? lol
    Thanks for sharing!!
    First Grade Blue SKies

  19. I LOVE that you shared this!! I am in a school where the principal moved from middle school to elementary. He doesn’t get kinders at all and I had to fight to get retelling and dramatic play back in my classroom. I love all your ideas of props… one that I wanted to add was letting the children create their own props. I have an end of the day free choice time where one of the choices is “creation station”. The kids have several choices of things to make and one is “something that is missing from retelling”. In years past I’ve had kids create “froggy” feet or Author’s glasses. It’s fun to see what they feel is missing or needed in the center!

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