Story Grammar Hammer Time!

Reading to Learn

By Crystal Dykes

Rationale: According to Pressley, struggling readers may not possess knowledge of story grammar structures. If readers are given instruction in story grammar structure, and its use, their comprehension and memory will improve. In other words, children do not know how to point out the important parts of a story. When modeled and guided in how to set up story structure, to find important points in the story, they will learn how to do this independently. This can become a strategy that they can use independently when reading stories, to help them build comprehension. I will use story grammar structure to show students how to pinpoint important parts of the story. I will tell what type questions to ask in order to find the important points in the story.


1)    Overhead projector

2)    Overhead transparencies of The Little Pink Rose and The Little Red Hen

3)    Transparency markers

4)    2 pieces of graph paper with examples of own questions referring to story grammar areas

5)    Copy of practice short story The Little Red Hen  for each student

6)    Copy of the story The Hare and The Tortoise for each student

7)    Notebook paper and pencil for each student



1)    Teacher will introduce the concept of story grammar to students. I will say today we are going to learn about story grammar. Story grammar is an important part of reading. It tells us things about the story that is important. It helps us find out who the story is about, what the problem is, and who solves the problem. It helps us to better understand a story's characters and what is happening in the story.

2)    Teacher will place a transparency of the short story The Little Pink Rose on the overhead projector.

3)    Teacher will read the short story aloud to the class and then model for students, the components of using story grammar. Teacher will think out loud during the modeling of story grammar. Teacher should be sure to make the instruction of each story component highly interactive with clear demonstration and use of examples. Think aloud as you read to the class to demonstrate how you arrive at your conclusion. Here is the story:





The Little Pink Rose


Once there was a little pink Rosebud, and she lived down in a little dark house under the ground.  One day she was sitting there, all by herself, and it was very still.  Suddenly, she heard a little TAP, TAP, TAP, at the door.


  Who is that? she said.


  It's the Rain, and I want to come in; said a soft, sad, little voice.


  No, you can't come in, the little Rosebud said.


  By and by she heard another little TAP, TAP, TAP on the window pane.


  Who is there? she said.


  The same soft little voice answered, It's the Rain, and I want to come in!


  No, you can't come in, said the little Rosebud.


  Then it was very still for a long time.  At last, there came a little rustling, whispering sound, all around the window: RUSTLE, WHISPER, WHISPER.


  Who is there? said the little Rosebud.


  It's the Sunshine, said a little, soft, cheery voice, and I want to come in!


  N--no, said the little pink rose, you can't come in.  And she sat still again.


  Pretty soon she heard the sweet little rustling noise at the key-hole.


Who is there? she said.


  It's the Sunshine, said the cheery little voice, and I want to come in, I want to come in!


  No, no, said the little pink rose, you cannot come in.


  By and by, as she sat so still, she heard TAP, TAP, TAP, and RUSTLE, WHISPER, RUSTLE, all up and down the window pane, and on the door, and at the key-hole.


  WHO IS THERE? she said.


  It's the Rain and the Sun, the Rain and the Sun, said two little voices, together, and we want to come in!  We want to come in!  We want to come in!


  Dear, dear! Said the little Rosebud, if there are two of you, I s'pose I shall have to let you in.

 So she opened the door a little wee crack, and in they came.  And one took one of her little hands, and the other took her other little hand, and they ran, ran, ran with her, right up to the top of the ground.  Then they said,--


  Poke your head through!


 So she poked her head through; and she was in the midst of a beautiful garden.  It was springtime, and all the other flowers had their heads poked through; and she was the prettiest little pink rose in the whole garden!


4)    After reading the short story, teacher will use the graph paper posted up in front of the class on the board, next to the projected image of the story, to write down each component of story grammar so that the class can see the modeling. Teacher will underline the answers to her own questions as she reads it aloud so that students can see exactly where she found the information from the story. Teacher will say now that I have read my story, first I ask myself, who is important in this story? What kind of personality or mood are these people in? I think the little pink rose, the rain, and the sun are all important in this story. The little pink rose seems scared, the rain seems to be sweet and shy, and the sun seems happy and cheerful. Now, I ask myself, what is the problem in this story? The problem seems to be that the little pink rose will not let the rain or the sun come in when they knock. Who solves the problem and how do they solve it? The sun and the rain solve the problem by joining together to knock on the window. The little pink rose lets them in since they both came and knocked together. What is this story telling readers or what is the purpose of the story? I think that it is showing that team work is a good thing because the rain and the sun teamed up to get the little pink rose to let them in and the story has a good ending result because the little pink rose ended up becoming the prettiest rose in the whole garden.

5)     Now that the teacher has modeled how to use story grammar, teacher will distribute copies of the short story The Little Red Hen to each student.

6)    Explain to students that we are going to read this story together as a class. We will read the story, and then we will generate questions to find out who is important? What kind of people are in the story? How do they act? What is the problem in the story? Who solves the problem? How is the problem solved? What is the purpose or message of the story telling its readers?

7)    Class reads the story:



The Little Red Hen


  The little Red Hen was in the farmyard with her chickens, when she found a grain of wheat.


 Who will plant this wheat? She said.


  Not I said the Goose.


  Not I said the Duck.


  I will, then, said the little Red Hen, and she planted the grain of wheat.


  When the wheat was ripe she said, who will take this wheat to the mill?


  Not I said the Goose.


  Not I said the Duck.


  I will, then, said the little Red Hen, and she took the wheat to the mill.


  When she brought the flour home she said, who will make some bread with this flour?


  Not I said the Goose.


  Not I said the Duck.


  I will, then, said the little Red Hen.


  When the bread was baked, she said, who will eat this bread?


  I will said the Goose


  I will said the Duck


No, you won't, said the little Red Hen. I shall eat it myself.  Cluck! Cluck!  And she called her           chickens to help her.

8)    Now that we have read the story together as a class, the teacher will post the second piece of graph paper on the board next to the projected story of The Little Red Hen. Teacher will underline parts of the story on the projection as the students respond. Teacher will say let's complete our story grammar questions. Who is important in this story? Students respond- Little Red Hen, Goose, and Duck. Teacher will fill in the graph paper with the help of responses from students. Teacher asks what is the personality of each of these characters? Students' respond- Little Red Hen is nice and generous, but Goose and Duck seem lazy and rude. Teacher asks, what was the problem in the story? Hen asks others for help doing things in a way, but no one wants to help Hen. Who solves the problem? Hen solves the problem. How does Hen solve the problem? She does things for herself since no one else seems to want to help. What is the purpose of this story or what is it trying to tell readers? At the end of the story, after all of Hen's hard work, there is bread grown as the result. No one helped Hen during the whole process of growing the bread and getting it ready to eat. Finally, when it is done, Goose and Duck decide they want to eat the bread, but they did not want to help make it. Hen says, no, I don't think so, I will eat it myself and my chickens may have some. So, if you don't help others, don't expect them to help you. You should treat people as you want them to treat you. Great job! You all have now learned how to use story grammar.

9)    Okay boys and girls, now that you have seen how I use story grammar and you all have used it with me, now you are ready to use your own story grammar.

10)                       Teacher will distribute copies of The Hare and The Tortoise.

11)                       Teacher says: Before we read this story, first I want you all to understand that vocabulary is an important part of reading. You must know the meaning of certain words in order for the story to make sense. Vocabulary plays a big part in giving a story meaning.

12)                       Teacher will write the vocabulary on the board along with the definition of each. Teacher explains to students each word and the meaning of each word as she writes them on the board.



boasting- to praise oneself.

forth- forward, onward.

challenge- an invitation to compete in a sport.

darted- to move suddenly or rapidly, fast.

goal- the mark set as limit to a race, end of race.

13)                       Teacher gives simple meanings of words and uses each word in a sentence. Teacher provides sample questions using the word.

The girl who always wins the beauty pageant enjoys boasting to her friends.

Does boasting mean to be happy about oneself? Does boasting mean to be nice to others?

14)                       Teacher reviews each vocabulary word and its meaning with students.

15)                       Teacher will give a brief book talk: This book is about a Hare who brags about always winning races. The Hare thinks that he can beat anyone in a race. He dares someone to challenge him to a race. The Tortoise decides to race the Hare……  I wonder what happens next. Will Hare beat Tortoise?

16)                       Teacher explains: Now I want you to read the story, The Hare and The Tortoise, independently. After reading the story I want you to use story grammar to help narrow down the story to the important parts, just as we had done earlier. You can write you story grammar on a piece of notebook paper. You can use the questions that I have up on the board if you get stuck on what questions to ask yourself about the story.



17)                       During independent work time, teacher will call each student up individually and have them read a short story and then use story grammar to tell about the important parts of the story. I will have students tell me what type questions they asked themselves. I will use a checklist to evaluate self asked questions.



Illustrated short stories for kids. November 5, 2011.

Illustrated short stories for kids. November 5, 2011. The Little Red Hen.

Illustrated short stories for kids. November 5, 2011. The Little Pink Rose.

Pressley, Michael. The Elementary School Journal. Strategies That Improve Children's Memory and Comprehension of Text. C. 1989.


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