Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Tell and Draw Stories

This blog will talk about are often called "Draw and Tell" stories, though I think originally they were called chalkboard stories or chalk talk.

When I was teaching preschoolers English as a Second Language* (*well, ESL for most of them, I had a few students who were doing EFL as they were exposed to Chinese and Spanish at home) I quickly  understood the need to draw. There was no projector, no IWB, no reliable access to a printer, but I had chalk. I had tons of colored chalk.

This was unfortunate, as I am not a very talented artist, but it was something which I found very helpful. So, I drew. I tried to pull from my childhood and the things I loved most were the draw and tell stories. These are stories where the audience is told a story. During each step the story tells a little more and the picture tells a little more. Sometimes the final drawing fits with the story and sometimes not.

To the right you can see a  quick example about a story that starts with a boy who was attacked by bees. If you are lucky enough to have a printer I made a quick mini-book for this (as well as ideas). You can download it for free at my Teachers Pay teachers store if you haven't signed up yet you can join for free here.

As you can see the drawings don't require much artistic skill, so even my preschoolers could mimic them later  (and most importantly I could create them in the first place!).

These were useful at multiple levels for many skills.

It was sometimes an assisted dicto-gloss. I told the story and they needed to re-write it. Since there was a picture they usually remembered the big parts.

I also used these to help my students practice their predicting. What comes next? What else could we have said? Sometimes (like here) the picture doesn't tie into the story and I would ask the students to add that last line, "He was happy to be home with his dog" or something similar which would tie the story and pictures together.

With super little ones we practiced basic motor skills (yay drawing lines!), body parts,  and color recognition. So after the story we would have them locate the dog's nose, eyes, ears, etc. To assess they would have to "Color the eyes black. Color the ears brown," etc.

With my older students we practiced cause and effect transition words (because, since, as a result) and they would make their own stories that they presented to class at the end. In this case it wasn't so much the drawing rather the creating that they enjoyed. They had to logistically think of a story that matched each step. It was a really fun activity (though some struggled). It could easily be used for other transition words (First he went on a walk. Then he was attacked by bees. Later he ran into a lake...etc)

You can use it to practice verb tenses. He was walking when he was attacked by bees.

You can easily create your own Draw and Tells! This is one I learned when I was younger, but I made up one involving a cave and bubbles that made an octopus (I think I used it to practice counting with my little ones). I've seen ones involving using your numbers to make a mouse, telling a story about a ghost to make a cow and much much more!

There are also many books you can buy with stories that have already been created. I do encourage you to change these! Substitute words that are familiar or challenging to your students. Add transition words that clearly state what happens next. Throw in adverbs or adjectives to make it better for the lesson that you are teaching. A little flexibility goes a long way and so does a little fun!

For some other Draw and Tell stories check out these books:

For a detailed lesson on how I combined a dictogloss with a draw and tell check out this post: Dicto-Draw-And-Tell-Gloss 


  1. How cute! Love the drawing, because it would be so easy for children to draw. Thank you for sharing!

  2. So true! If I can draw it then they can draw it :) And the whole process really helps cement the lesson.

    Thanks for the comment.


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