I learned a valuable lesson about telling a story with a toddler today. Just because you rehearse a story (about something that just happened) orally doesn’t mean the child will be able to retell it in sequence.
Earlier this month, I used pictures and words to help Isabelle retell the big things that happened to her during the day. I thought the pictures were necessary since we were retelling a series of events. If you listen to the audio recording of her retell, you’ll see how well the visuals helped her retell the big events.
This morning, we were leaving the supermarket in the pouring rain. The wind blew her hood off, the umbrella inside out, and the shopping cart into the car. All the while, Isabelle, who doesn’t like the wind and the rain combined, didn’t fret. Perhaps because I was laughing, so was she. Then, her rain boot fell off as I was about to lift her up from the shopping cart to put her into the car seat. More laughter ensued.
When we got home and took off our gear, I had her retell, with about 75% success, what had happened five minutes earlier. I was so proud of her retell that I wanted her to tell the story of our walk to the car to my husband. I figured the oral retell would prepare her to do it. Take a listen and you’ll hear why retelling it once was not enough:
All she focused on was the boot! Now granted, I was a little over-animated when I retold the story, but I was trying to get her excited about the sequence of events. It didn’t work.
While I can’t draw out pictures for every retelling we do together, I can certainly provide her with more visual supports to help her storytelling going-forward.