You are most probably aware of how graphic organizers are used in senior classes and at work. Did you know that some graphic organizers can be introduced even to very young children? Story maps are graphic organizers which develop young readers’ comprehension.
Story maps teach the child how to identify and organize the information provided in a story. All stories have common elements. They have characters (who is in the story), setting (where the story happens), a problem (something that the characters want to happen) and resolution (how the characters make it happen).
One of my nephews loves the story of the Town Musicians of Bremen. It is his favorite bedtime story. When I first narrated the story he liked to ask questions about the animals and why the masters wanted to get rid of them. Finding out that they had their own place to stay in the end made him very happy. After a few retellings, I used his questions (and does he have many!) to draw attention to the story elements using the actual vocabulary—characters, setting, problem and resolution.
Last week we decided to do a story map with this book. Since he is just beginning to write his letters, he drew the pictures and narrated his comments to me.
As you can see, he has the four main characters in the story, the donkey, the dog, the cat and the rooster. The setting is the robbers’ house in the middle of the forest. The problem is that the animals are looking for food and shelter and they resolve it by singing and scaring the robbers out of the house. The resolution has the animals one on top of the other as in the statue.
He processed the information from the story to identify these details. Putting them down on paper enables him to internalize it, helping him recall the information while he role plays or retells the story to his friends. Ever since we did the story map, he has been looking for similar information in other books we read. Phrases like, “We have a problem….Let’s see how we resolve it” is seeping into his play as he makes the connection that the characters in the stories are not that different from our lives.
Here is a template that you can use