Five Finger Retell Rule

Use the 5 Finger Retell Rule by assigning story components to fingers.

Recently, while working with one of my grandkids, I learned about 5 Finger Retell as a way to retell a story.  The Five Finger Retell Rule for reading is designed to help kids recall the five key elements of the story. Although I had summarized many a story with either my own children or primary students, I never used this simple strategy.

The 5-Finger Retell Rule engages kids to repeat a story in their own words, immediately after reading or hearing it.    The trick here is that they use their own hand to organize their thoughts by assigning story components to a finger and their palm. The 5 Finger Retell helps students to analyze the story by setting, character, problem events, and solution or ending. It can be used to summarize the content orally or complete a written summary.  

Since many kids have a hard time retelling/summarizing a passage or story this helps kids focus on the most important parts of the story. In addition to summarizing they acquire listening and forecasting skills by asking the BASIC 5W’s: Who, What, When, Where, and Why. This helps them make connections to things they know and understand which is critical for comprehension.

Five Finger Retell Rule

  • Thumb – Setting
  • Pointer – Characters
  • Tall Finger – Problem
  • Ring Finger – Events/Episodes
  • Little Finger – Ending/Solution
  • Palm – Add your palm for the book title and you have an entire story right in your hand.

The best part of the Five Finger Strategy is that kids can do it anywhere anytime.  No lesson prep, manipulatives or long discussions. Once you teach, model, and review the finger assignments, the kids are ready to go.

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

Isn’t education All about reaching the kids in the classroom and at home?

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