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Story maps use graphic organizers to help students learn the elements of a book or story. The most basic story maps focus on the beginning, middle, and end of the story. More advanced organizers focus more on plot or character traits.
When to use this strategy, appropriate group size, what is a story map.
A story map is a graphic organizer that helps students learn the elements of a narrative. Learning to identify a story’s characters, plot, setting, problem, and solution prompts students to read carefully to learn the important details. There are many different types of story maps. The most basic ones focus on the beginning, middle, and end of the story while more sophisticated organizers focus more on story elements like plot, character development, or theme.
Why use story maps?
- They improve students’ comprehension of narrative text.
- They provide students with a framework for identifying the elements of a story.
- They help students of varying ability capture and organize information and ideas efficiently.
- They help students develop a deeper understanding of how stories work that can be applied to other texts and content areas.
How to use story maps
- Define and discuss the components of a story (e.g., characters, setting, plot and theme or beginning, middle, end) using a familiar story as an example
- After a whole-class read-aloud of a story, complete a story map on chart paper with input from students
- If students will story maps individually, provide each student with a blank story map organizer and have them complete their own copies as you co-construct the larger version.
- Once students understand how to construct story maps, they can complete story maps as they read or, after reading, they can fill in any missing parts.
Download simple story map templates (beginning–middle–end)
- Story map template 1
- Story map template 2
Download more complex story map templates (characters, setting, plot, conflict and resolution
- Story map template 3
- Story pyramid template
- History frame template
Watch a demonstration: mini-lesson in story mapping
The teacher completes a story map for “The Three Little Pigs” step-by-step, explaining each narrative element.
Watch a classroom lesson: narrative text retelling (grade 1, whole-class)
As part of a lesson on retelling, the teacher completes a story map for “Butterfly’s Life,” a narrative nonfiction text, with input from students.
Watch a classroom lesson: The Hen and the Apple Tree (grade 2, whole-class)
Following a whole-class read-aloud of The Hen and the Apple Tree , the teacher completes a story map with input from students to help them identify the moral of the story (beginning at 12:07).
Differentiated instruction, for second language learners, students of varying reading skill, and younger learners.
- Scaffold your instruction by providing prompts for each section on your map. For example, in the “Beginning” box of your map, use prompts such as: Who are the main characters? Where does the story take place? You can write in these prompts before printing or making copies of a story map intended for students to fill out independently.
- Differentiate by providing less complex story map templates — the beginning-middle-end format is the simplest — for those working to grasp the basics of stories and other, more complex maps, with students ready to engage in more complex work.
- Model this strategy using a book with very clear components to help students understand each component.
- Have the students complete story maps in pairs, being sure to partner a reader or writer who needs extra support with one who has more skill. Partners can also fill out a story map together after a Paired Reading activity.
Extend the learning
This chart shows how the story mapping strategy can be used in language arts, history, and science. See cross-disciplinary story mapping chart ›
Students can extend their understanding of story maps into their own writing. Students can use story maps to plan, summarize, and write their own main ideas, characters, setting, and plot for a story. Find more ideas for using graphic organizers to support writing ›
This story map example demonstrates how story maps are used with an Arthur story. Students identify the setting, characters, the problem, and the solution in the story.
Story maps can be used to help students solve open-ended math problems or create their own math problems. This work helps students break down problems into smaller sections in order to understand what is being asked.
Using the format of the story map, students can create their own map by taking a walk around the playground or school. Encourage students to include positional words in their story map writing.
Learn more about strengthening reading comprehension in our self-paced module Reading 101: Comprehension .
See the research that supports this strategy
Adler, C. (2004). Seven Strategies to Teach Students Text Comprehension .
Armbruster, B. B., Lehr, F., & Osborn, J. (2001) Put reading first: The research building blocks for teaching children to read kindergarten through grade three . Washington, DC: The U.S. Department of Education.
Boulineau, T., Fore, C, Hagan-Burke, S. and Burke, M. (2004). Use of Story-Mapping to Increase the Story-Grammar Text Comprehension of Elementary Students with Learning Disabilities . Learning Disability Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 2 (Spring, 2004), pp. 105-121
Nell K. Duke, P. David Pearson, Stephanie L. Strachan, and Alison K. Billman (2011) Essential Elements of Fostering and Teaching Reading Comprehension (opens in a new window) . From What Research Has to Say About Reading Instruction (4th ed.), International Reading Association.
Nell K. Duke, Alessandra E. Ward, and P. David Pearson (2021). The Science of Reading Comprehension Instruction (opens in a new window) , The Reading Teacher , Vol 74, No. 6 (May-June 2021).
Dunst, C, Simkus, A, Hamby, D. (2012). Children’s Story Retelling as a Literacy and Language Enhancement Strategy. CELLreviews 5(4). Asheville, NC: Orelena Hawks Puckett Institute, Center for Early Literacy Learning.
Santa, C., Havens, L., & Valdes, B. (2004). Project CRISS: Creating independence through student owned strategies 3rd Edition . Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt Publishing Company.
Timothy Shanahan et al., Improving Reading Comprehension in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade (2010). U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences.
Trabasso, T., & Bouchard, E. (2002) Teaching readers how to comprehend text strategically. In C. Block and M. Pressley, (Eds.) Comprehension instruction: Research-based practices (pp. 176-200). NY: Guilford Press.
Children’s books to use with this strategy
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs
Red Riding Hood
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
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Students love to share stories about themselves! As a teacher, you know the rewarding experience of helping students turn that storytelling excitement into engaging, well-written personal narratives. Narrative writing is also an effective way for students to explore important traits of descriptive writing to really make their stories come alive.
When it comes to personal narratives, the ability to clearly organize thoughts and ideas prior to writing is critical. Graphic organizers are the perfect tools to help students reflect on important experiences from their lives and develop their ideas. These organizers ask students to dig deep within themselves to uncover key details and explore the emotions and ideas that will guide their stories from beginning to end.
If your students are ready to write and share stories inspired by their own experiences, these 5 graphic organizers will help them develop personal narratives that will engage and captivate any reader:
1. Personal Narrative Pond: Graphic Organizer & Mini-Lesson
This frog-themed graphic organizer teaches students in grades 2–4 about the writing process and how to take a broad concept and narrow it down to a specific, and more compelling, idea.
2. Writing Graphic Organizer: Nifty Narrative
This graphic organizer encourages writers in grades 3–5 to revisit the feelings and sensory experiences of a special memory and use them to write a detail-rich personal narrative that will engage and captivate readers.
3. Memoir: Leveled Graphic Organizers
Designed for students in grades 4–8, this set of graphic organizers includes lesson tips and model writing samples to help students write about a meaningful personal experience.
4. Point of View (Narrative Writing): Leveled Graphic Organizers
Explore point of view with this lesson and organizers . The memoir-writing organizer From the Inside Out supports students in grades 4–8 with adding details and proper pacing to their narratives.
5. Practice Using Lively Language
Lively vocabulary helps engage readers with vivid imagery and interesting details. After reading model texts, invite students in grades 3–5 to use this graphic organizer to help them create engaging personal narratives filled with powerful language.
To explore more graphic organizers and gain access to thousands of printable and downloadable teacher resources that will help your students write engaging personal narratives, log in or subscribe to Scholastic Teachables today!
About this Interactive
The Story Map interactive includes a set of graphic organizers designed to assist teachers and students in prewriting and postreading activities. The organizers are intended to focus on the key elements of character, setting, conflict, and resolution development. Students can develop multiple characters, for example, in preparation for writing their own fiction, or they may reflect on and further develop characters from stories they have read. After completing individual sections or the entire organizer, students have the ability to print out their final versions for feedback and assessment. The versatility of this tool allows it to be used in multiple contexts.
- Student Interactives
- Calendar Activities
- Lesson Plans
The Plot Diagram is an organizational tool focusing on a pyramid or triangular shape, which is used to map the events in a story. This mapping of plot structure allows readers and writers to visualize the key features of stories.
The Graphic Map assists teachers and students in reading and writing activities by charting the high and low points related to a particular item or group of items, such as events during a day or chapters in a book.
The interactive Cube Creator helps students identify and summarize key elements. It can be used as a prewriting or postreading activity.
In this lesson students evaluate published children's picture storybooks. Students then plan, write, illustrate, and publish their own children's picture books.
Students are exposed to wordless picture books and begin developing story lines, both orally and in writing, using an online, interactive story map.
Cinderella without castles, coaches, or ball gowns? Students use versions of Cinderella to explore how the setting of a storytime, place, and cultureaffects the characters and plot.
Students hone their teamwork skills and play off each other's writing strengths as they participate in prewriting activities for a story to be written collaboratively by the whole class.
Students explore picture books to identify the characteristics of four types of conflict. They then write about a conflict they have experienced and compare it to a conflict from literature.
This lesson introduces students to William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet by having them examine the ideas of tragedy and tragic love by connecting the story to their own lives.
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- Kindergarten K
Free Editable Narrative Writing Graphic Organizer Examples
Creativity and writing go hand in hand and are some of the most demanding skills for everyone. We always look forward to our kid's progress in the creative writing classes and workshops. There is so much to teach, from vocabulary to structure and idea generation. So, our job is to make this a pleasant experience for the kids to enable them to learn what they are bound to enjoy. A narrative writing graphic organizer is a creative way to learn narrative writing without overwhelming the students.
1. What is a Narrative Writing Graphic Organizer
In personal narratives, organizing thoughts and ideas before starting writing is a crucial step. Narrative graphic organizers are perfect tools to help the students dig down into the key details and explore their thoughts and ideas. Narrative writing graphic organizers are helpful in both completing writing projects and also for reference in future projects.
Narrative writing graphic organizers are very supportive in creative writing because they save time and efforts for students and the teachers. Their focus is to divide the whole exercise into small chunks and allow the child to fill in details to come up with a complete recount or narrative of events and ideas.
2. The Narrative Writing Graphic Organizer Examples
Below are 9 editable narrative writing graphic organizer examples for you to choose from.
Example 1: Writing Personal Narratives: Watermelon Graphic Organizer
This Watermelon graphic organizer is used to help students brainstorm a big narrative idea. Students divide their writing into small moments. They narrow down their report of significant moment experience to specific small moments. Watermelon narrative writing graphic organizer is presented as a fun template. They think of a watermelon slice as an event, while the small moment details are the seeds. This way, students do not get overwhelmed with the scale of more information. So, they start small and build their narrative gradually.
Example 2: Narrative Writing Graphic Organizer Template
Narrative writing graphic organizer template is a graphic organizer for students to create a personal narrative story. In this template, students first summarize the details of what they are going to write. This summary may include what happened, where it happened when it happened, and who the characters are. Students then add the details in the form of the beginning, middle, and end sequencing format. This graphic organizer for narrative writing template is incredibly supportive in writing biographies, travelogues, and event descriptions.
Example 3: Narrative Writing Brainstorm Graphic Organizer
Personal narratives are complicated for many students because the structure is not very particular. Narrative writing brainstorm graphic organizer is a sequencing guide for students to follow this structure for brainstorming, listing out characters, settings, event sequencing, and sensory details.
This narrative writing graphic organizer follows this structure.
- Who did it, when did it happen, where did it happen?
- What happened at the beginning, middle, and end of the event?
- Students dig deeper into details of the event along with sensory information.
Example 4: Personal Narrative Graphic Organizer interactive worksheet
Personal narrative graphic organizer interactive worksheet is also based on the description of small moments. This worksheet starts with the small moment event. Then there are some questions pushing the student to give details of their memory. It asks 'who is in this story with you?', 'When/Where does this take place?' emotions, feelings, and sensory details. Later it asks for an attractive first sentence and then the details of the memory. Finally, the conclusion is written. So, in small steps, students can come up with a complete personal narrative. You can see the importance of graphic organizers for narrative writing in guiding the students without overwhelming them.
Example 5: Narrative Writing Graphic Organizer Example
This narrative writing graphic organizer example presents the student with some blocks for filling in the details. This is also a great tool to support the students to write a detailed account of a problem situation gradually with small stepping stones. This organizer first asks for the character descriptions, setting to describe when and where the event happened, the problem, and the solution.
The next step is the plot, where the students will fill in the start, building, and the end of the event.
Example 6: Graphic Organizer for Narrative Writing
A graphic organizer for narrative writing is a perfect solution for young students in the early grades. This narrative writing graphic organizer is the simplest form of an organizer. It starts with the title, topic, and purpose. Then we ask the students to write the first catching sentence. Followed by the first sentence, we want the details of the event in three steps. Write the first, next, and the last piece and end it with the conclusion.
Source: EdrawMax Online Edit Now
Example 7: Narrative Writing Planning Graphic Organizer
This graphic organizer for narrative writing is an organizer that focuses on sensory details. It asks the students to draw their narrative scenes and then recall the smell, taste, feels, hears, and what they saw in that event. So, this recount is more about the feeling than the words.
Example 8: Narrative Writing Graphic Organizer: Beginning-Middle-End
Narrative writing graphic organizer is suitable for students with command over written words and vocabulary. It again calls for the beginning, middle, and end of the event. The student can go step by step on the recount of the event and describe what happened. However, it lacks particular boxes for characters and settings. In the end, the students fill in the last box with the summary.
Example 9: Narrative Writing Graphic Organizer Middle School
Online narrative writing graphic organizer is another simplest form of a graphic organizer. It simply asks the students to fill in the introduction, middle, and conclusion. For the lack of more prompts, we can assume that this organizer is again more suited for the older student who has command of writing and vocabulary. As the name suggests, this is for middle school students.
3. Online Narrative Writing Graphic Organizer Maker
A Graphic organizer maker is an excellent tool for teachers and mentors to create narrative writing graphic organizers according to the needs and skills of their pupils. EdrawMax Online is a robust tool for quickly creating graphic organizers in little time. Since the teachers are very busy and need easy-to-use tools to support their teaching endeavors, EdrawMax Online is excellent support. The best part of this tool is the availability of pre-made templates that can be used right away and customized. There are templates available at Template Gallery for more than 280+ types of drawings.
4. Key Takeaways
Graphic organizers for narrative writing support teachers, parents, and students for tension-free creative writing. Children love to tell their stories and experiences, but when we force them to follow a particular structure, writing style, and vocabulary, it becomes a stressful situation. Narrative writing graphic organizers support this situation and present fun solutions for making creative writing stress-free.
EdrawMax Online is a quick-start graphic organizer maker that makes making graphic organizers very easy and less time-consuming. It has many shapes, symbols, and text tools for drawings. The templates available at Template Gallery make the tasks even more accessible.
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Writing a Narrative Graphic Organizer Set
This set of three graphic organizers will support your students to develop the components necessary for a narrative piece of writing.
Planning Internal and External Details: Use this organizer to help students brainstorm a variety of different types of details: actions, dialogue, thoughts, and emotions. One of the Common Core standards for Writing requires students to include a variety of details, and this organizer can help get them thinking broader for their stories. Use it before students draft or during the drafting and revising process.
Planning for Sensory Details: This organizer can also be used before or during the drafting process in order to broaden the variety of student evidence. This organizer focuses on sensory details and forces students to visualize each scene of their narrative through drawing out their scene, and then listing sensory details they can imagine for it. Make sure to model using the organizer to give ideas for your own writing, and your students are sure to include beautiful descriptions in their own narratives.
Planning Writing Goals from Example Narratives: This graphic organizer can be used with any mentor or example texts you use in the classroom. It can be difficult for students to understand how to thinking about gaining ideas for writing techniques from example texts, but the guiding questions on this organizer ("What did you like, and how could you do something similar?") can help break down the process for them. This organizer is a great tool for teaching students to put their writing goals in their own hands.
Featured Middle School Resources
13 Graphic Organizers to Teach Narrative Writing
I always look forward to my Writers Workshop with my first graders. There is so much we want them to learn, however, we cannot teach all of it to them at once or we will make them hate writing forever. We also cannot expect them to write without equipping them with all the skills needed for a good piece of writing. Overwhelming young writers always puts brakes on their creativity and that is not what we want when we want them to write. As a teacher, it is our responsibility to help model and instruct on how to be better writers. I have compiled these graphic organizers to help make this process easy for you and your students.
WHAT IS A NARRATIVE?
A narrative is a story! Narratives can be fictional or non-fictional and are told in order. Narratives are usually the first kind of writing that students do when they start writing. Narrative writing is usually easy for students because they are writing about themselves and events that have happened to them.
Here’s what I do when I teach students how to write narratives.
WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT?
Usually, when I start this unit, I provide them with a topic to write about and later, when they are more confident of their writing, I let them choose ideas to write about. For this particular unit, I chose to write a personal narrative about A STORMY DAY since they were learning about tornadoes and hurricanes.
It’s always best to use a mentor text whenever you are teaching your students to write any genre of writing. Luckily, we found the perfect book to go with our story topic. We read the book “ The Bears and the Great Big Storm” by Paul Bright which was thoroughly enjoyed by my firsties. I cannot stress enough on how great this book is to teach narrative writing since it had all what I wanted my students to learn.
LET’S BEGIN THE WRITING PROCESS!!
We started off by choosing what kind of storm to write about. Students had the option to choose from lightning, rain, thunder, or snow storm.
Next step was to determine the characters and setting for their stories. Who were they with on that stormy day and where were they?
SHOW, NOT TELL
This skill is really important while teaching students how to write giving descriptive details and our mentor text book really helped us here to enable students to show their readers how severe the storm was and how they felt. Had it not been for this book, my students would not have been able to master this skill. The details they came up with while describing the storm and how they felt were enough to make me burst with pride.
ROCKIN’ BEGINNINGS AND JAMMIN’ CONCLUSIONS
Although you can teach a variety of ways to your students to begin and end their stories, however, I have found that teaching and sticking to one for a while helps students master that style before they can try a different style. We stuck to starting our stories with onomatopoeia which is always a hit and ending them with what they would do next time if there was a storm.
You can get these graphic organizers at my TpT Store or CLICK HERE .
If you want to check out my post about story starters for Apples Unit, CLICK HERE .
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Narrative Essay Writing, Graphic Organizers, 2nd Grade, Differentiated, No-prep
Introducing the ultimate tool to ignite your students' writing skills - our Narrative Essay Writing Graphic Organizers! Designed specifically for 2nd to 5th graders and classrooms with different learning needs, this supercharged resource is here to revolutionize the way your students approach narrative writing. With our graphic organizers, your students will effortlessly organize, plan, and execute their writing. Gone are the days of messy, disorganized essays. Our carefully crafted templates provide a clear structure, ensuring that every sentence flows seamlessly into the next. But that's not all - we've included a comprehensive linking word resource to take their writing to the next level. By incorporating these powerful words, your students will effortlessly transition between ideas, creating a captivating narrative that will leave readers mesmerized. Differentiation is key, and we understand that each student learns at their own pace. That's why our graphic organizers are carefully tailored to meet the needs of every individual. Whether your students are beginners or advanced writers, they will find the perfect level of challenge to enhance their skills. And the best part? Our Narrative Essay Writing Graphic Organizers require absolutely no-prep! Simply print them out, and you're ready to go. Say goodbye to hours of planning and preparation - our organizers have got you covered. So why wait? Empower your students with the tools they need to excel in narrative writing. Grab your copy of our supercharged Narrative Essay Writing Graphic Organizers today and witness the transformation in their writing abilities!
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