Hello Young Learner Teachers! If you would like to start planning a story-based lesson this involves much more than reading the book itself.

Whether you are teaching remotely or in the classroom with your students, there are lesson stages that you need to include to make story-time with your learners not just fun but also a way to instill in them, from the earliest age, a love of books, of reading and of story!

I’m going to share with you now the lesson plan framework I use so you can try it out with your learners.  But, more importantly, I want you to understand my process so that you can plan your own story-based lesson with any paper-based book or online animated story.


When planning a lesson around a book, I like to start by thinking about the key concepts that are in the story. Here’s an example:

I’ve planned a lesson around an original animated story from the BOOKR Class app. It is called “At The Market”.

Buying food from street markets is fairly common here in Brazil so this will be a familiar context for my 4 year old learners and a great way to introduce and practice a range of vocabulary for fruit and vegetables and structures for making polite requests.

This story also works as a jump off point for dramatic-play activities, allowing the children to use the language from the story to role-play buying and selling fresh produce in the classroom market.

Defining clear learning outcomes will help me make better choices about the planned activities I’m going to include and give me clarity about what to look for when assessing how successful the lesson was.

In this lesson children will develop important life skills while learning vocabulary for food and structures for polite requests.

Then you can think about the key language that you might need to introduce or revise prior to reading to support their understanding of the story or for the activity they will do afterwards.

Do you think they need to understand every word in order to follow the story?

Not at all, in fact, I have found that children are incredibly good at interpreting meaning when the language is presented in context.  Of course, I have to make sure I have done a good job at:

  • Selecting a story that has an appropriate level of challenge and concepts which are age appropriate.
  • Preparing a pre-reading stage that provides useful input
  • Have been mindful to plan how you will use images and gestures and your voice during the story to support their understanding.


So there are many ways you might like to structure your story-based lesson.  Here’s mine.  I feel that this is an easy framework to adapt to your own teaching context.

Now, I know that a lot of teachers LOVE Ready-made lesson plans, in fact, you can download mine by signing up to my mailing list!

Download the Story-Based Lesson for FREE


However, we can’t rely on lesson plans that other people wrote for us. You can and you must be able to adapt or plan your own lessons. However, if you are new to this, you might find this a useful structure to begin with.

Introducing Key Language

  • As I just mentioned earlier, you don’t need to pre-teach every word before reading a story. In fact, that’s a terrible idea. However, there may be key language that is worth introducing or revising in order to prepare them for listening to the story.
  • There are lots of ways to this but in the lesson plan I wrote for you, I’ve used the famous Mystery Box (or in this lesson the Mystery Supermarket Bags).
  • These can work perfectly to spark their curiosity and introduce vocabulary or a concept they will hear in the story.
  • Teaching online? As well as using the bags, you can also slowly reveal the objects from around the edges of your screen.


  • Make sure to sit where you can be easily seen and heard. They

all be facing the book, so if in a classroom with a group of children, make sure they are in rows and not in a circle for storytime.

  • If online, make sure to sit close enough to the camera while still showing your facial expressions and gestures.
  • Set them up for success by developing a routine that will indicate that it’s storytime.
  • I also like to agree on the kind of behaviour we all expect during storytime. Listening to a book being read aloud requires a lot of attention and focus and we can help children with this by teaching them strategies (such as whole body listening).
  • Never start reading the story without first exploring the peritext. Teach children about the parts of a book, including the cover, title, author, and use the images on the front to get them curious, activate their prior knowledge and prepare them to listen to the story.

Providing support

  • Encourage students to draw on their current linguistic or world knowledge
  • Look at the cover and brainstorm words and ideas based on the title and/or images
  • Use images from the story and have students predict what it is about
  • If you have read the book before, encourage students to recall as much as they can about the characters or storyline
  • Show enthusiasm for the book – if you don’t get excited about it, your students won’t either

While reading

Here are some general guidelines:

  • Always read the story to yourself (or in front of a mirror) before going public
  • Decide how you will read it, what voices and actions you will use
  • Get a feel for the rhythm and speed
  • Use plenty of facial expressions, gestures and make use of the images to support their understanding
  • Never use this moment to test them on their vocabulary with questions like “What’s this?”
  • Plan ways you will encourage participation with gestures and questions to have them reflect and predict.

This is the part of the lesson that I think you could pre-record and use either in your lesson or as an activity for students to do on their own before the live lesson.

Let’s Connect

I know that teaching children can be challenging but with support and training it can be one of the most fulfilling jobs in the world. My mission is to transform the way English is taught to children. To do that I am building a community of teachers like you and offering meaningful training that helps them find professional and financial fulfillment in their careers.

You might like to join me and a growing community of teachers on Instagram where you will find more support, free content and courses for the young learner teacher.

I’ve also linked to the BOOKR Class app. Try it out for 14 days for free and use my free Story-Based Lesson plan with the story “At The Market” or write you own for any of the other animated songs and stories they have there. There are literally 100s!

BOOKR Story-Based Lesson


  • Claire Venables is a qualified English teacher who has been dedicated to ELT since 2001. After a decade in Spain, she moved to Brazil in 2011 where she has worked in the creation and implementation of bilingual programs in schools, the development of teacher development courses, as a national and international speaker, materials writer, active member of the National Association of Teachers of English (BRAZ-TESOL). Despite her wide-ranging experience, she is and always will be most passionate about teaching children.