Day by Day Story

Here’s an idea that spans the week and explores older children’s attention, listening skills and memory, all while exploring their PSED progress. It can be used for individual children or a small group of 2-5.

What you will need:

  • A story – either a children’s book or a story you’ve made up – that can easily be separated into five chapters, or ‘chunks’, to be read daily across the week. This will work best with a story that has a lot of repetition, such as ‘The Gruffalo’ or ‘Where’s My Mum?’. 
  • Props, dolls or figures to demonstrate the story, such as a Gruffalo toy (optional). 

Preparing the activity

Set up a ‘reading area’ so that children begin to associate this area with being quiet and listening attentively, if your setting doesn’t already have one. Make sure that it is a comfortable environment without too many distractions.

Doing the activity:

At the same time each day (e.g. circle time or just before lunch) read the next chapter of the story. Make sure the children are listening and know that they will need to remember the story tomorrow. It may help to give the children ten minutes after that day’s section of the story to talk about what they enjoyed most (‘I liked it when the Gruffalo roared!’) to encourage them to remember more for tomorrow. 

From day two, ask the children to recount the story from the previous days before you read the next section of the story. If they are struggling to remember, prompt them with character names or situations, but make sure they have space to think it through and recall the details. 

For younger children, dolls or props may be helpful in telling the story. It may also be fun for smaller groups to act out parts of the story with the dolls as you are reading. 

Allow children to get the story wrong or embellish details, as this provides a wonderful opportunity to observe their imagination in action. The focus is on their memory of characters and storylines, rather than the finer details. 

Tracking the activity

30-50 months 

Literacy: Reading- “Beginning to be aware of the way stories are structured.; Describes main story settings, events and principal characters.” 

Communication and Language: Listening and attention- “Listens to stories with increasing attention and recall.” 


40-60+ months 

Literacy: Reading- “Uses vocabulary and forms of speech that are increasingly influenced by their experiences of books.” 

Communication and Language: Listening and attention- “Maintains attention, concentrates and sits quietly during appropriate activity. 

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