Teaching Ideas for Story Structure

The first comprehension skill I focus on is story structure. I pick this for a few reasons but primarily because in order to effectively retell or summarize a fiction story, students need to know the main elements of the story’s structure. Let’s take a look at some books and activities that will help students become masters at identifying story elements while they read!

I always like to start my reading comprehension skill lessons off with a whole group activity. This mini-lesson is outlined in the lesson plan that comes with the rest of the story structure resources. I love this anchor chart poster because not only is it an interactive activity but it serves as the perfect visual aid for continued reference! You could even print smaller ones in b/w for students to keep in their book box, reading folder or notebook.


For 2nd grade, I initially focus on four main elements: characters, setting, problem and solution.
We practice the skill as a whole group ideally three times. Each time we practice, I let students take over responsibility a little more and more. I strategically plan my read alouds so they increase in complexity.

Since it’s the beginning of the school year, my read alouds act as not only a mentor text for the comprehension skill but also as a way to get students excited about reading. It is a launching point for our first author study–Kevin Henkes. Students fall in love with his books and I use our knowledge of his craft as a motivator for our first writing lessons. I also incorporate other beginning of the year books like New Shoes by Susan Lynn Meyer and Rain School by James Rumford. The profound stories in these texts help students exercise empathy and understanding for situations unlike their own.


When it feels like they are ready, we pair the skill with books on their independent reading level.
Graphic organizers help students visually organize a story’s elements, increasing their ability to retell, summarize, and comprehend the story. Providing various options for showing learning is key! I also like to incorporate student choice. I will run off 10-15 copies of each graphic organizer and let them pick which one they feel best fits with their independent reading book. I use the leftovers during guided reading!

I organize all of my mentor texts, mini lesson materials, reference posters and graphic organizers in Iris cases. I love how I can just pull out the bin when I need it and add resources as I collect them throughout the week!

If you would like to read more blog posts like this one, click here. You can also download the Comprehension Kits guide including suggested mentor texts and link to blog posts by clicking here or on the images below.

If you are interested in all of these materials, you can check out the Comprehension Skill Kits bundle.
Happy Teaching!

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