Story Comprehension of the First Grader

Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Claire Golomb


In order to assess the competence of twenty-five first graders aged 6 and 7, in terms of their comprehension of story, their orally told and written original fairy tales were analyzed. The first assessment scale, developed by Nancy Stein, measured the structure of the story according to six components. The second scale, designed by the author, analyzed the degree of elaboration and completeness of story. The third scale, a modification of the Maranda Scale, measured the development of plot. A fourth scale measured the number of fairy tale markers included in the oral and written fairy tales. Additionally, graphic competence was analyzed by studying forty-seven first graders’ drawings of an important scene from an unfamiliar, prototypical fairy tale which was read aloud to them. Oral stories tended to be longer than written. Both oral an written stories used the acceptable beginning of “Once upon a time...” as well as the successful introduction of one protagonist who sequentially completed the episode. Variants of familiar fairy tales were evident in both the oral and written stories. A trend evident in the first two scales was the superiority of the oral mode in terms of completeness and maturity of story. In the modified Maranda Scale, there was not a preference for either mode. In terms of fairy tale markers, the most frequently used were “Once upon a time...”, “...happily ever after.”, royal characters and the inclusion of magic. The results of the drawing assessment yield high comprehension of important parts of a story with ability to express the meaning through the graphic medium. Use of these measurement scales in the classroom, and combining the oral, written and graphic modes of expression to ensure a complete understanding of what children are thinking is strongly suggested.


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