Retelling the Story – How to Help Your French Primary Students

Today, I want to talk a little bit about retelling a story, and some ideas for helping our French primary students learn that skill.

But first, let’s talk feedback and data for a second, and how you can use that to help guide your teaching.

My school has the Reading Recovery program in French (called IPLE). My school is really lucky, and the teacher who trains all the IPLE teachers happens to work out of my school. Her office is actually right beside my classroom!

Since I’ve been teaching grade one the last two years, I get to ask her tons of questions, and she gives me feedback on areas of growth for our students.

Each year, our students complete a “sondage d’observation”, and we get data on where our students are struggling specifically when it comes to literacy.

One area where many of our students struggle is with retelling the story.

Our students tend to have a hard time naming the characters, setting, and then identifying the main points of the beginning/middle/end. Even when they do remember the main events of the story, they often remember them out of order. They might also go into way too much detail and try to do a page-by-page retelling, rather than a brief summary.

I wanted to help with this, so I’ve created a new resource for it – Lire et redire – les petites histoires en français.

Looking for ways to help your French primary students with retelling a story? Check out this blog post for some ideas as well as a freebie to help!

How « Lire et redire » Works

The resource has three main components:

1. A short story (basically, each sentence in the story is a main event)

2. Retelling tools – I’ve created retelling “strips” and cards for students to put in order (high support) and retelling “sliders” for students to use to keep them on track as they retell the story (lower support as there are no visuals from the story)

3. Puppets – students can use these to support their retelling, and/or extend the story and imagine what might happen next

How to prep it

I suggest using this resource with small groups. To start, print and prep your materials.

I actually decided to print four copies of the story page and laminate them, to use with white board markers and save on paper. You could alternatively print copies for all members of your small group and have them complete with pencils/crayons.

You’ll also want to prepare the retelling strips, sliders, and retelling cards, plus the puppets. Here is a link to a Reel I made on Instagram showing some of my prep!

How to Use It and Help Your Students with Retelling

Depending on your group, your students will read the story or you will. You’ll want to read it minimum three times.

Before you begin, let your students know what you’re looking for . You want them to be able to identify the characters, setting, plus beginning/middle/end. As they pull out the important details, have them write/sketch them in the correct spaces on the sheet.

Then provide them with the retelling strips and cards (easier) and/or a slider (more challenging). Have them use the tool to support them as they retell the story orally. They can also show their understanding by predicting what might come next in the story.

If you like, you can also provide your group with puppets. They can use the puppets to retell/extend the story as well.

Looking for ways to help your French primary students with retelling a story? Check out this blog post for some ideas as well as a freebie to help!

Making the Transfer to Retelling Other Stories

These stories are VERY simple! That’s on purpose. We want to start small and simple, and then transfer what we have practiced to books they can read on their own (or stories you read to them).

After a student reads a book with you, provide them with a slider to support them as they retell the main events. Hopefully, the slider plus the practice with the simpler stories will help them retell the main events in the correct order.


As with any skill we want our students to master, practice will make progress!

Provide your students with lots of opportunity to practice retelling the story and showing you that they understand the main events. Start small and build!

If you want to try a sample story and retelling cards with your students, you can! You can enter your email at THIS LINK, confirm that you want it, and then download a sample story from my TPT product.

The sample includes one story and the retelling cards. The full product includes five stories with retelling cards and puppets, plus the sliders and retelling strips. I’m working on other themes/stories as well, so be sure to check back soon!

Looking for ways to help your French primary students with retelling a story? Check out this blog post for some ideas as well as a freebie to help!

PS – if you’re looking for more tips on using puppets to encourage your students to retell stories in French, be sure to check out THIS blog post!

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