Today I wanted to share about a common story structure that I love teaching to my students to increase their story comprehension, story retell, and story generation skills.
Within my own therapy sessions, I’ve observed the transformative power of narrative language in helping children express their thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
Quickly into my career, I understood the importance of teaching story elements and story grammar. I easily incorporated this type of work into my therapy sessions with minimal CEUs or effort.
But for far too long, I struggled knowing how to go beyond individual elements and to explain story structure and story plot to the students on my caseload.
I’ve finally latched onto a system that I wanted to share with you today!
I teach my students the idea of story’s path!
One of the first structures I teach is called the “Try, Try Again” story path (shown below):
The “try, try again” story structure revolves around a main character who has to make several attempts to overcome a problem or challenge before succeeding. This story structure is incredibly common in books, movies, TV shows, personal stories… nearly every single kind of narrative you can imagine!
By repetitively experiencing this story path—encountering a problem, making efforts, facing setbacks, and ultimately finding a solution—children can learn to anticipate and understand this type of story structure. This process not only builds their comprehension skills, but also helps them apply these structures in their storytelling and everyday problem-solving.
Once your student’s have familiarity with this type of story structure or story path, you can apply this knowledge in order to tell personal stories or write parallel stories.
Here’s an example activity that builds on the “Try, Try Again” story structure to write a parallel story (that follows the same path/structure):
Transitioning the “try, try again” story structure to personal narratives can be a powerful tool to help children express and reflect on their own experiences. For example, consider a scenario in which a student on your caseload is asked to tell about what they did over the weekend. Perhaps the child tried to beat a new level in their favorite video game, but faced multiple failures (aka “oops!”) before being successful. The SLP could support the student in framing and retelling this experience using the “Try, Try Again” story structure.
First, the SLP could assist the student in identifying the problem or challenge: beating level 7 in their game. Then, the student could recall their attempts to solve the problem, highlighting the different strategies they used. Next, they would describe the setbacks, problems, or frustrations they experienced, such as not knowing how to solve the problem, being interrupted by their parents, or failing to find the missing key in time. Last, they could share the solution, the triumphant moment when they beat the level!
Throughout this process, the SLP can offer prompting questions and visual supports, encouraging the student to elaborate on the story elements. By doing so, the child not only practices their storytelling skills but also learns to see their own experiences through the lens of resilience and problem-solving inherent in the “Try, Try Again” story structure. This self-reflection can boost their confidence and empower them to tackle future challenges with determination and creativity. ✅
Have some students this might be helpful for? Check out my Searching for Home story unit linked below. It includes an original storybook I wrote that uses this common story structure!
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Searching for Home Story Unit
Searching for Home is an original wordless picture book created specifically with SLPs in mind! Easily target everything from character description to story comprehension, from core vocabulary to tier 2 vocabulary words, and from simple sentence formulation to sentence combining using JUST ONE BOOK!More Info
Hope this post was helpful! Thanks for being here!