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Pre-story Knowledge Activation

The first phase of literacy-based therapy is referred to as the Pre-story Knowledge Activation phase.

Many of our students with language impairments struggle with listening and reading comprehension. Discussing information that is related to the story, or pre-story knowledge activation, is an evidence-based activity that supports students in incorporating new knowledge into an existing schema.

In addition to activating story knowledge prior to reading the story, this type of task can also be used to facilitate language development through use of language stimulation strategies (e.g. recast, expansion, etc.).

Pre-story knowledge activation tasks can include:

  • Use of graphic organizers

  • Pre-story discussion

  • Book walk


Graphic organizers provide students with a visual representation of key idea/concepts and vocabulary that are important for understanding the story.

For example, if you are reading a story about camping, you might map and discuss camping, forests, activities people do when camping, etc.


After the mapping out important concepts or vocabulary words, facilitate a discussion by asking questions that tie the concepts to the story:

  • Story elements (e.g. main character, setting, problem, plan, consequence, etc.)

  • Main idea

  • Theme

  • Moral


Discuss the pictures in the book, have students describe what they see, and ask questions that guide the students through the main story line.


Ukrainetz, T. A. (2006). Contextualized Language Intervention: Scaffolding Prek-12 Literacy Achievement (1st ed.). Pro Ed.

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