March 11, 2019
i want my hat back story retell props

We love reading books OBVIOUSLY. I mean, we love children's books so much we have a blog about them!

I read books to Teddy everyday and he is starting to show interest in trying to "read" by himself. He's two-and-a-half so he can't read yet, but he is starting to memorize some of his favorite books and can recite them almost word for word. He especially likes to read aloud to himself while sitting on the toilet lol.

Sure, pretending to read is really freaking adorable, but it's also helping to develop some important pre-reading skills.

  1. Holding the book correctly
  2. Turning pages left to right
  3. Using pictures as clues to what each page is about
  4. Practicing rhythm and pattern of speech
  5. Phonetic awareness
  6. Summarizing

Once your little one is showing interest in pretend reading it is a great time to introduce story baskets and other story retelling activities!


A story basket is a great way to build on pretend reading. A story basket is a basket filled with different elements of a story; like characters, setting and props. Children can use the objects in the basket to retell a story.

Story retelling is an important foundation skill for little readers. By retelling a story orally or physically with props, children are deepening their understanding of the text. Retelling promotes reading comprehension and interpretation skills. A story retell activity encourages children to identify characters, settings, plot details and sequence of events in a visual and tangible way. Retelling activates a child's working memory and their imagination!


I received a review copy of I Want My Hat Back thanks to Candlewick Press. This post contains affiliated links for your convenience. I only write about products I love and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. For more information see Legal.

I Want My Hat Back written and illustrated by Jon Klassen is a great book for story retelling activities. Aside from the Klassen's gorgeous illustrations and the cute animal characters it has a fairly simple plot that is easy to retell.

A bear is looking for his hat. He asks his animal friends if anyone has seen it and everyone says no. Spoiler alert: the bear realizes the rabbit was wearing the hat, so he eats him.

There is a clear sequence for children to retell "first the bear asks this animal, then this animal..." and there is a lot of repetition. The text is mainly dialogue between characters so it is a fun story to act out and use different voices for the different characters. The words don't specifically say that the bear eats the rabbit, but it hints at it. It is interesting to ask children "where did the rabbit go?" and see if they can use the text and the pictures to form a conjecture.

i want my hat back story retell props


With any activity, I like to let the children help with preparation. For one, it gives them more of a invested interest in the activity to come, but it also makes less work for the parent. Who wants to spend what little child-free time they have to prep for kid activities?? Do it together!

Read through the book and make a checklist of the different characters and props. Then, make it like a scavenger hunt to find these objects in their toys or around the house. If you need to make any of the items turn it into a craft project you can do together.

You can use figurines, toys, dolls, puppets, masks, costumes, stuffed animals or other household objects to fill your story basket. You might not (read: probably don't) have an exact replica of every character so choose some stand-in characters or more abstract representations of the objects. This actually is a good thing because it requires imagination and abstract thinking skills in your little one.

If you don't have a lot of the items mentioned above you can print pictures of the characters you need. Printed paper pieces will not be as engaging or as tactile for little one's so I recommend that you glue them to popsicle sticks like little puppets or you can Modge Podge them on to smooth stones to make story stones.

Keep all of the objects together in a basket along with a copy of the book. Make sure all of the items are visible and easily accessible for little hands.


For our I Want My Hat Back story basket we made it two ways. One basket had little animal figurines: A bear, a rabbit, a turtle, a lizard (subbing for a snake), a fox, a frog, a deer, a meerkat (subbing for a squirrel), an anteater (subbing for whatever the weird purple animal thing is in the book) and a little red paper hat.

For the other basket, I made a set of animal puppets using printed characters glued to popsicle sticks. The Candlewick Press website has some AWESOME educational resources and teacher guides including a printable Jon Klassen Activity Kit. The activity kit has a printable page of characters from a Forest Scene activity that can be used to make the little puppets.

i want my hat back story retell props


First, you want to make sure your child is familiar with the story you want them to retell. You can't retell a story that you don't know.

Read the book to together several times before doing any story retell activities.

Then read the book while modeling how to use the props to tell the story. Next, read the book again and let your little one play with the props to show the story as you tell it.

Finally, let your little one tell the story orally AND use the props to tell the story. If they get lost you can prompt them with "and then what happened?" or "who does the bear talk to next?" They can look to the book for clues.


Children can also use their story basket to create their own stories using the same characters. They could also try creating different endings to the familiar story.

You can try adding more characters and see if your little one can follow the stories pattern to create new dialogue for the new characters. Introduce different props to see how your child can incorporate them into the story.


Tag your photos of your story basket and I Want My Hat Back activities with @ureadyteddy and we'll share our favorites in our stories!


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