Rainbow Retelling

UDL 3.4 UDL 6.3

Rainbow Retelling is a reading comprehension strategy in which students use the colors of the rainbow as visual prompts to remember the basic blocks of comprehension in order to retell a story. First, the teacher determines which comprehension element each color will stand for and designs an aligned mnemonic prompt (e.g., Red - Ready to hear the retelling? The characters are…; Orange - On to where the story takes place.). The teacher then introduces Rainbow Retelling using visual aids (e.g., charts, laminated handouts, manipulatives) to help students connect each color with the corresponding comprehension element. After introducing the strategy, the teacher scaffolds support, first modeling Rainbow Retelling with familiar stories and then releasing students to utilize the strategy more independently. By visually prompting young students to retain the basic elements of comprehension, students are able to more effectively monitor and articulate their understanding of the text.

Ready-to-Use Resources

Anchor Chart

Rainbow Retelling Anchor Chart

An anchor chart for teaching and practicing the Rainbow Retelling strategy. The resource includes a comprehensive anchor chart detailing multiple retelling components, as well as individual posters for each component in isolation. Use as-is, or modify to suit students' present retelling abilities.

Grade K, 1, 2 · English Language Arts, Reading, Speaking · 7 pages

Implementation Tips

Introducing the Strategy
Begin implementing Rainbow Retelling during a read aloud of a familiar story. After reading the story, use a visual aid to model identifying each comprehension element tied to each color of the rainbow. Continue to use Rainbow Retelling to support students in comprehending new, challenging texts.
Preparing Visual Aids
Prepare visual aids (e.g., charts, posters, bookmarks, manipulatives) that represent the colors of the rainbow. To maximize retention, ensure the colors of the rainbow are accurately ordered in the visual aid (ROYGBIV) and each color corresponds to a specific retelling component.
Model using the visual aid to explain the color correlation to the comprehension element. Emphasize the first letter of the color word and corresponding comprehension element to support students in solidifying connections (e.g., "Red. Red stands for, 'Ready to hear the retelling of a story?'").
Guided Practice
Empower students to utilize the strategy soon after it has been introduced. Review the concept of Rainbow Retelling, re-reading a well-known story (e.g., [[,204,203,200_.jpg|Three Little Pigs]]) and prompting a student volunteer to attempt a retell utilizing the rainbow cues.
Selecting Materials
Choose varied materials that target students’ diverse learning preferences. For instance, use colorful charts for visual reminders. Or, consider using a [[|bracelet]] with beads that represent the colors of the rainbow for a more tactile prompt.
Summarizing Learning
Prompt students to utilize Rainbow Retelling by directing students to summarize their independent readings to partners or peer groups, using the rainbow cues as a tool to support their application of comprehension elements.
Cross-Curricular Integration
Use this strategy daily in Reader’s Workshop. Connect to Writer’s Workshop by having the students use the Rainbow Retelling strategy to reflect upon the details of their stories before writing them down.


Reader's Workshop
Before Reader’s Workshop, a teacher hands each student a ribbon strung with beads that represent the colors of the rainbow. The teacher says, “Today we are going to use the colors of the rainbow to retell a story.” The teacher reads [[|Goldilocks and the Three Bears]] aloud. After, the teacher points up to a Rainbow Retelling chart and says, “What do you notice about the word ‘Red’ and the first letter of the first word ‘Ready’ in the sentence after it?” The teacher assists in making the connection that the first letter of the comprehension prompt has the same first letter of the color word. The teacher then takes the beaded ribbon and slides the red bead over to the side and says, “Red. Ready to hear the retelling of a story? The characters are Mama Bear, Papa Bear, Baby Bear and Goldilocks." The teacher moves on to the subsequent beads, modeling how to use each of the prompts. The next day, the teacher reads another familiar story, [[,204,203,200_.jpg|Three Little Pigs]] and engages student in interactively summarizing the story using Rainbow Retelling.
Writing Integration
In Writer’s Workshop, the students have been using rainbow beads on strings as well as charts around the classroom to help them remember prompts to retell stories. During Writer’s Workshop, the teacher asks the students to take out their rainbow beaded ribbons and bring them to the meeting rug. “Today I am going to use the Rainbow Retelling strategy to help me remember all of the details that I want to include in the story I write. I am going to write about my trip to Florida. Let’s start with red. Red - Ready to hear the retelling of a story? The characters are me, my mom, my dad and my sister.” The teacher slides the red bead over and moves onto the next bead, modeling how to use all of the prompts. The teacher says, “Pick a story that you are writing about. Take a minute to go through the beads on your bracelet and think about all of the details in the story.” The teacher gives the students a minute of think time as a whole group and then sends the students off to their seats to independently write stories using either the beads on their ribbon or the rainbow chart in the room.

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