RETELLING A STORY – Creating and Using Props

Students work in groups of four, choose the beginning, middle – part one, middle – part two, or end of a story they have read and use markers and crayons to create a triarama that shows the setting in their part of the story, and Model Magic to make a character and props. Then they take turns retelling their part of the story using their creations.

Required Time

80 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 3 to Grade 6


Language Arts
Visual Arts



Crayola Washable Markers - 24 Count Crayola Paint Brushes - 5 Count Crayola Model Magic - Assorted Colours Crayola Scissors Crayola Regular Crayons - 24 Count Bristol Board - 30.5 cm x 30.5 cm (12" x 12") - 1 piece per student Paper Clips Plastic Container Lids for Palettes - 1 per student Water Containers Masking Tape Coverstock Paper - 4 cm x 9 cm (2" x 4") - 1 per student

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RETELLING A STORY – Creating and Using Props - Step One

Step One

  1. Begin with a square of Bristol board 30 cm x 30 cm (12" x 12"). 
  2. Fold the Bristol board in half diagonally from one corner to the other.
  3. Make a firm crease. 
  4. Open the Bristol board up and fold it diagonally in the opposite direction.
  5. Make a firm crease.
  6. Make a dot in the centre of the Bristol board where the two folds meet.
  7. Cut along one of the folds and stop at the dot. 
RETELLING A STORY – Creating and Using Props - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Mark an X on one of the flaps.
    - This side will be tucked under the other.
  2. Fold the Bristol board up and place one triangle go over the one with the X.
  3. Notice what will be the background of your setting – the two vertical sides, and what will be the ground – the flat horizontal part .
  4. Open the Bristol board up and do your drawing and painting on it while it is flat.
    - Do not paint on this flap with the X.
RETELLING A STORY – Creating and Using Props - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Do not paint on the flap with the X.
  2. Use crayon and marker to colour the details of your setting. 
  3. To use the marker like paint, draw some marker onto a plastic lid and paint into the marker with water to liquefy it. 
RETELLING A STORY – Creating and Using Props - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Use Model Magic to create props and characters for your part of the story.
  2. To make a small finger puppet follow the instructions in the Fun Finger Puppets lesson plan available on this website.
RETELLING A STORY – Creating and Using Props - Step Five

Step Five

  1. Use paper clips to attach all 4 triaramas together.
  2. Make sure they are in the correct order – beginning, middle - part one, middle - part two, end.
  3. Take turns retelling your story, gently turning the settings as the story unfolds.
  4. Use the props to help you remember important details.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create a triarama to represent the setting of part of a story;
  • create 3-dimensional objects to represent props and characters of a story;
  • determine what is important to tell when retelling a story;
  • work with others to retell the events of a story in sequence;
  • tell a story expressively in their own words; 
  • retell a story with correct facts.


Have students:

  • draw a sequel to the story that takes place ten years later;
  • discuss how the characters will have changed over time, and why;
  • tell their stories to the class.


  1. Prior to this lesson you may want to have students explore the Water Plus Marker Technique lesson available on this website.
  2. Prior to this lesson have students read/study a novel or story.
  3. Place students in groups of four.
  4. Have students practice retelling and summarizing the story in their groups.  
  5. Have them determine the importance of elements of the story and decide which details are most important. Ask them to divide the story into 4 parts – beginning, middle - part one, middle - part two and end. Ask each student to choose one of these parts to work with.  
  6. Download the Space Poster available on this website.
  7. Cut Bristol board enough for one piece per student. (30.5 cm x 30.5 cm)
  8. Create a sample triarama.
  9. Gather two books with the same or similar subject matter and illustrated by different artists, for example, D is for Dinosaur: A Prehistoric Alphabet, by Todd Chapman, and Lita Judge, and The Dinosaur Alphabet Book, by Jerry Pallotta, and Ralph Masiello.


  1. Introduce or review how to retell a story. Guide students through the process of determining what details in the text help 'paint the picture' of the story.
    - ask students to close their eyes as you read a passage from the book
    - ask them to form an image in their mind's eye of what they have heard
    - list things they heard that help describe the setting or character
  2. View the illustrations for two books of your choice to show how different illustrators interpret text/subject matter differently.
  3. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Create a triarama to represent the setting of your part of the story.
  2. Create 3-dimensional objects to represent props and characters in your part of the story.
  3. Determine what is important to tell when retelling the story.
  4. Work with others to retell the events of your story in sequence.
  5. Tell the story expressively in your own words.
  6. Retell the story with correct facts.

The Process

  1. Make sure everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when I have:
    - constructed a sturdy triarama
    - created visual details that communicate information about the setting
    - used marker and water effectively
    - created Model Magic props that communicate information about the story
    - made sure the finished triarama is in good condition
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  4. Observe students as they work. 
  5. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Have students in each group attach all 4 triaramas together using paper clips.
  2. Remind them to make sure the triaramas are in the correct order from beginning, middle, middle, to end. Ask students to be sure to:
    - Begin with an introduction.
    - Include where and when the story takes place.
    - Tell about the main character.
    - Tell about supporting characters.
    - Tell about the problem.
    - Tell how the problem was solved.
    - Tell how the story ends.
    - Summarize by telling your group's opinion about why the author wrote this story
  3. Have students practise taking turns retelling their story, gently turning the settings as the story proceeds.
    Remind them to use the props to help them remember important details.
  4. Provide enough time for students to feel comfortable and ready to share their stories with the class.
  5. Place students so that everyone can see the presenters.
  6. Have groups take turns retelling their stories.
  7. Ask the audience to respond to the stories and the artworks after each retelling.
  8. Ask students to tell how they felt about doing this activity.


  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they retell their stories – speaks with a clear voice, looks at audience while speaking, manipulates the props and triarama, provides accurate information, answers questions from the audience effectively.
  3. Observe students as they listen – looks at presenter, asks effective questions, supports ideas with evidence found in the artwork and the story.
  4. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads – Retell_tracking.pdf)
  5. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads – Retell_self-assessment.pdf)