Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Teaching Cumulative Tales

illustrated by Randolph Caldecott

Do you teach your students/children about cumulative tales? Cumulative tales are stories that build on a pattern. There is a strong, central theme, and a LOT of repetition. It begins with one image, item, character, or event, and then adds another. Each time another element is added, the previous elements are repeated. This repetition makes cumulative stories a great tool for speech therapy, language learning, and building literacy fluency.

Perhaps the most famous example would be The House that Jack Built. The illustration above was published in 1877 by Randolph Caldecott. But the tale itself is much older than that. It was passed on by word of mouth for years (possibly even a century or more!) before it was first published in 1755. Dare I say that the structure and story is as popular today as it was then? I don't know, but I can state in all honesty that this was one of the stories I was told as a child, and one that I've read to my own children.

Another recognizable example would be the children's rhyme and nonsense song, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. This one, though, was written a looooong time later - the 1940s, actually. But it is still beloved by children and families today for its sheer absurdity.

Cumulative tales may or may not rhyme. Some involve tongue twisters. They are frequently humorous. Oftentimes, the story has a surprise ending. Or it may start with a problem which each repetition attempts to solve. Most of the time, the new story elements are kept relatively short and simple. The tales involve strong imagery, so the focus tends to be on nouns and adjectives. But always, they repeat the part of the story already told.

I was thinking about this the other day and wondering how I could teach this to my children. So, I created a Halloween-themed printable that would do just that.

My Halloween Storybook & Cumulative Tale Lesson gives younger children a printable storybook that they can color in. It is the story of a little witch's house. Short and sweet, it focuses on relationships while utilizing mainly nouns and adjectives.

THEN, the file includes an introduction to cumulative tales and provides graphic organizers that guide your children/students through the process of creating their own.

And, yes, it is available in English and Spanish. Though I should note that the Spanish translation is not a direct one (that would sound weird), but keeps true to the essence of the story.

Click on the link above to visit my TpT store to purchase your downloadable copy.

And if you are looking for more cumulative tales to share with your children, here are a few suggestions that you can find on Amazon (affiliate links)...




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