What is Story Mapping?

A story map is a visual depiction of the settings or the sequence of major events and actions of story characters. This procedure enables students to relate story events and to perceive structure in literary selections. By sharing personal interpretations of stories through illustrations, students increase their understanding and appreciation of selections. Story maps can be used as frameworks for storytelling or retelling, and as outlines for story writing.

What is its purpose?

  • to enhance students' interpretative abilities by enabling them to visualize story characters, events and settings
  • to increase students' comprehension of selections by organizing and sequencing main story events
  • to develop students' sense of story which will assist storytelling, retelling and writing
  • to increase students' awareness that story characters and events are interrelated

How can I do it?

  • Introduce story mapping as a collaborative activity.
  • Introduce this strategy using a story with an uncomplicated plot.
  • Read the selection to students.
  • Encourage students to visualize the characters, settings and events as they listen.
  • Discuss and chart the main characters and story events.
  • Review the chart, focusing students' attention on the sequence of main events.
  • Emphasize what happened first, next, and then . . . .
  • As students agree upon the order of listed events, number these in sequence.
  • Individuals or groups could each illustrate one story event.
  • Display completed illustrations in sequence.
  • This pattern or framework can be used for retelling the story.
  • Students can retell the story for their own enjoyment, to a partner, to a small group or to the class.
  • Story illustrations can be displayed in a vertical or a horizontal sequence, in a circular pattern or as a winding trail that traces the movements of the characters.
  • Once students become familiar with this procedure, they can create a sequence of illustrations that will provide an outline for storytelling or for writing original stories.

How can I adapt it?

  • As a prewriting activity, students could sketch the beginning, middle and concluding events as frameworks for their stories.
  • Students could use paper folded into six equal sections to illustrate and outline a story in six parts. This framework could assist storytelling or story writing.
  • Students may construct written maps or story graphs, or they may use combinations of drawings and words to outline a story sequence.
  • Oral tellings of stories could be recorded and students could create accompanying illustrations in the format of wordless picture books.
  • Story maps may be used to organize story events for book talks, puppetry or book making activities.
  • Story grammars also display the interrelatedness of story events, characters and events.

Assessment & Evaluation Considerations

  • Note students' ability to identify main story characters and events.
  • Note students' ability to sequence story events.
  • Story maps reveal students' level of comprehension of story events and structure.
  • Variations among students' story maps illustrate their personal interpretations.

Teacher Resources


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