Adele has been a youth services librarian in public libraries for 20 years.
“Draw and Tell”: A Great Way to Grab the Interest of Children
Throughout my years as a children’s librarian and storyteller, I have found that draw-and-tell stories are a great hook to get children interested in your presentation. They love watching the story take shape and trying to guess what the final form will be.
What Is a Draw and Tell Story?
In this delightful storytelling method, the presenter draws shapes that represent things that are happening in the story, and the shapes end up making a picture that sums up the story. Children love them because most of them have never seen anybody present the story this way, and the novelty is intriguing. Many stories also use simple shapes, so they serve as a teaching tool for young children who are learning their shapes.
No, You Don’t Have to Be Able to Draw Well
The key is to choose the right story. I developed this story because I’m not very good at drawing at all. I decided to make this story using the face of a rabbit because I could use lots of simple shapes, and the features of the face would serve to remind me of what comes next in the story. For instance, I start with the salad bowl that is just a big round circle and forms the face of the rabbit. Then, I just need to remember what shapes make the eyes, nose, mouth, teeth, and ears. And since they’re all contained within the circle or attached to it, it makes it easy to keep the proportions right.
This drawing is pretty forgiving, and if one eye is a little bigger than the other, or if the nose isn’t quite centered, I've found that every group of children can still figure out what kind of shape the picture is taking.
Below, you can see a video that shows how to tell the story.
Text and Drawings for the Story “Mrs. MacGregor’s Salad”
Here are the instructions for drawing in telling the story. If you would like to print them out as a PDF, see the link below the pages. Each time I add a new shape, I show it in red. Then, in the next drawing, that shape turns to black so that you can see the next new shape in red.
PDF Link for the Story Pages That You Can Print Out
- Mrs. McGregor's Salad Story Sheets
You can print out these sheets which have the text of the story and their corresponding drawings.
Tips for Telling This Story
Make sure you read through the text of the story a couple of times so that you are familiar with the order in which things happen and which shapes go along with which part of the story. You don’t need to memorize it. You can keep the text on your lap and refer to it as you draw on the board.
I have found that a nice big whiteboard works the best, but you can also use a big pad of paper to tell the story. If you are feeling really hesitant, you can pencil in the drawing very lightly so that your audience can’t see it, and then you can go over it with a bigger and darker marker.
Remember to involve your audiences you tell the story. When I draw the shapes, I ask the children if they can identify them. And remember to portray the emotion of the story. You can show how frustrated Mrs. MacGregor is when she can’t find what she’s looking for.
Take a look at the linked video to give you an idea for ways to tell the story. You can add your own embellishments, of course, but sometimes it’s nice to just see how one person does it.
Other Ways to Tell the Story
Some people like to use flannel boards when they tell stories, and I have adapted the story so that it can be used as a flannel board story. Down towards the end of the article, you will see patterns for cutting out felt to make your own pieces for the story, and another format for reading the story that works well with flannel board narration. Some people feel more secure if they have all the pieces in front of them and can just place them on the board as they tell the story.
Telling "Mrs. MacGregor’s Salad" as a Flannel Board
In order to do this story is a flannel board, you’ll first need to cut out all the pieces from felt. I’ve included links to PDF documents you can use as patterns. I have one which shows the different colors, so that the radishes you use for eyes will be white, and the irises inside will be green.
I think it also works if you just do it in black-and-white, so I have included a template for that as well. Just cut out the different shapes, and then make sure you outline the edges with the dark marker such as a black sharpie. Children are able to figure out the picture of a rabbit just as well from black-and-white as they can from color.
Many people who tell flannel board stories write small numbers in pencil on the back of each piece. That way they can quickly tell if they have their pieces in order, and then turn them around and place them on the board.
Printable Patterns for Flannel Board Stories
Below you will see what the printable patterns for the shapes look like . If you want to print out PDF versions of these patterns, scroll down below the pages, and click the link to pull up the printable sheets.
Pattern Pieces for Black and White Flannel Board Story
PDF Link for the Patterns for the Felt Pieces
- Felt Board Patterns - Black and White & Color
This link contains two pages. The first is black and white. The second is in color. If you would like only one of the pages, set your printer accordingly.
Story Text (Adapted for Use With a Flannel Board)
Mrs. McGregor's Salad (a Flannel Board Story)
by Adele Jeunette
Mrs. McGregor decided a nice green salad would be a perfect dish for a nice warm spring day. She got out her big salad bowl. (Place big white circle for head on flannel board)
Then she thought about what she wanted to have in her salad. She really liked carrots, so she looked in her refrigerator for the two carrots that she had pulled and washed the day before.
She didn't see the carrots, but she found some nice round white radishes, which she cut into slices and put in her salad. (Place two smaller round circles for eyes on flannel board)
She kept looking through the refrigerator, but she still couldn't find the carrots. She did find some olives, those green ones with the little red peppers in the center, so she put those in the salad. (Place two oval that look like olives in the center of the “radishes” for eyes. These will look like iris and the pupils.)
She found a little triangular piece of cheese which she thought would taste good in the salad, so she put it in. (Place orange triangle for the “nose” under the eyes) But she couldn't find the carrots.
She found some green pepper she had sliced, so she put those in, (place two green arcs under the nose to make a “mouth” ), but she still couldn't find the carrots!
She dug and dug through the refrigerator. Finally, she found a couple of pieces of celery which she thought would taste good and she put them in the salad. (Take green pieces of celery and put them under the “mouth” so that they look like teeth.)
Well, Mrs. McGregor had looked all through her refrigerator, but she still couldn't find those carrots!
She just knew she had brought in some carrots, so she decided to look around the house for them.
She walked all around the living room. (Place one of the oval “ears” above the head. Trace your finger around the outside of the ear to show the path that Mrs. McGregor walked.)
And there in the middle of the floor was one of her carrots! (Place the carrot-shaped “inner ear” inside the bigger ear.) How in the world did it get there?
Then she walked all around the family room to look. (Place the other oval “ear” above the head. Trace your finger around the outside of the ear to show the path that Mrs. McGregor walked.)
And do you know what she saw?
There was her other carrot! (Place the carrot-shaped “inner ear” inside the bigger ear.)
She continued walking around the room, and then she saw a little puff ball peeking out from under the couch. She got down to take a look under the couch. Then she saw who had been taking her carrots. Do you know? (This is the wrap-up to the story, so you don’t need to place any other pieces. By now, the children should be able to make out the face of the rabbit.)
Yes, it was a furry little RABBIT!
© 2021 Adele Jeunette