Clipboards on the Carpet: A Retelling/Comprehension Approach

Hey friends!

I hope you’re all having a fan-tabulous week!

In First Grade (and pretty much every grade) building reading comprehension is SO important! I know that I am constantly working to help my student build their comprehension skills.

In my class, I read aloud to my students everyday, and then we retell the story together using a retelling rope. If you’re not sure what a retelling rope is, it looks like this (please ignore the poor picture quality taken via cell phone):


So, how it works is students retell the story by touching each part in order. First they touch the people and identify the characters, then the house and say the place, then the clock, and say the time. They touch the 1 and say first, and so on and so forth. The witch is the problem and the police hat is the solution.

Pretty cool, right?

Here’s the problem. Even though we were retelling immediately after reading, my students were still having a very tough time remember the details of the story.

I decided to try something new: Clipboards on the Carpet.


It’s as easy as it sounds.

Each of my students has a clipboard with a piece of paper and a pencil. They divide their paper into 6 parts (you could of course do more or less). When we go to the carpet, they sit with pretzel legs and their clipboards in their lap. Every few pages, I stop reading and give them about a minute to draw a quick sketch and write a few words about that part of the story. After the minute is up, I read another page or two before I stop again, give them a minute to draw or write what happened, and so on until we get to the end.

Let me tell you, I was very nervous that the clipboards would become a huge distraction, but they really aren’t at all! It helps my students focus on the story, their retelling has majorly improved, and I they actually pay more attention to the story.

My next step is going to be not prompting them when to draw or write, and let them decide that on your own, but for now, I’m definitely happy with the results.

If you’re kiddos are having trouble retelling, go ahead and try using Clipboards on the Carpet. I bet you won’t regret it!

If you’d like a nice, easy format for them to use, click the picture below (a few different ones are included).


Slide2Until next time,

Martha from Primary Paradise ๐Ÿ™‚

Primary Paradise

Primary Paradise

I have always had a passion for teaching and sharing with others and look forward to sharing my ideas with you!


  • Elisabeth
    January 16, 2013 3:40 am

    Excellent idea, Martha. Thanks for sharing! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Primary Paradise
      Primary Paradise
      January 16, 2013 5:00 pm

      You’re welcome! It’s definitely been a really good tool. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Ms. Lilypad
    January 16, 2013 5:09 am

    I love this idea! Good also to hear that they were not a distraction to the kids – I always worry about things like that.

    • Primary Paradise
      Primary Paradise
      January 16, 2013 5:01 pm

      Me too! Especially since I think First Graders are easily distracted. We just went over the rules and talked about WHY we were using them and they totally got it!

  • Lesley Boatright
    January 16, 2013 12:56 pm

    Great idea! Thanks for sharing.

  • Hilary
    January 16, 2013 4:48 pm

    I would agree about the distraction thing. Thanks so much for sharing!
    Second Grade is Out of This World!

    • Primary Paradise
      Primary Paradise
      January 16, 2013 5:02 pm

      You’re very welcome! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Cecilia
    January 16, 2013 5:30 pm

    So many wonderful ideas and so little time! This is great! Thanks!

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  • Sharon Imler Gaddis
    January 27, 2013 9:18 am

    I’ve used clipboards on the mat for years! Each new class has to go through the initial phase of inspecting the clipboard and letting it snap about a hundred times before they realize it’s just another tool in their toolbox of learning!!

    • Primary Paradise
      Primary Paradise
      January 27, 2013 7:58 pm

      I totally agree! They just need a little time to inspect them and then they are ready to get to work. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Lissa
    October 27, 2013 9:41 am

    genius! i love the retelling rope!

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