There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly Retell Literacy Center Activity


I love building in retelling stories into our literacy center time. We have active literacy centers in our classroom like the retell center.

This is how I created a ‘There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly’ retell activity to go in our retell center as an option for my kindergarten students.

They read, they act, they use lots of great vocabulary and are developing fantastic reading habits all while continuing to build their love of reading.

My kinders get to choose the book(s) they want to retell while they are at this literacy center. And they like to pick this book!

What’s in my retell set

Here are the props I gathered rather inexpensively (and you can too) to bring the book alive once we knew it by heart.

Right, so, the only thing it took was me making these characters above by hand.

Eeep – hard to duplicate so maybe I shouldn’t even mention it!

I taped each character onto a thick popsicle stick using strong packaging tape.

The old lady has a plastic bag taped onto her back (and laminated again) so the animals appear to be inside the stomach. These coordinate with the Simms Taback version which is my favorite!

Another option is to go shopping. This was a donation and a very cool one that goes along with the Pam Adams version.

How to make your own old lady retell activity

If you plan to make this a year-long literacy center, I highly recommend that you read the Retell Literacy Center Directions for more details and making everything run smooth.

Here are the materials you’ll need… (may include affiliate book links to Amazon)


What to do

Take your book copy, your Old Lady and animals and place them together. A container like an open basket, a book bin or a large Ziploc bag will work!

If you don’t want to create a belly with a ziploc bag behind it, you can also just leave the tummy see-through from laminating it. They just tuck the animals behind the lady as they retell.

We liked to keep a blanket nearby these materials so that they could create a theater-like puppet stage to sit behind.

But all they need to do is have the book and the materials and use the props to tell as much as they can:

  • about the story
  • from the story
  • with the story (following along)

Encourage kinders to use as many words from the text as they can remember. With a patterned story like this one, it’s pretty easy, especially if you read this story multiple times before you release it to your students.

I liked to read this story without a sing-songy voice the first time I read it {challenging!} and then re-read it once or twice until they have it memorized.

I read lots of different versions of There Was an Old Lady too and we love would discuss if they are growing stories (have a growing and repeated list) or not.

More versions of There Was An Old Lady we love

Would you believe I have them all?!?

Told you I had a lot of versions to read! Eeep


There you have it – how to make a There Was an Old Lady retell activity for your class. I love the funky printables for this one based on the Simms Taback book version – they are so colorful.

If you like this activity, check out this list of 20 more famous stories that are great for retelling in kindergarten. Most of them are just as simple to pull together and I’ve found all of the downloadable resources for you.

Other books that are great for retelling in kindergarten


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