Cheap DIY Magnetic Sets for Retelling

How to Make an Inexpensive Magnetic Board for Retelling

I shared a free, printable for retelling the story of Jack and the Beanstalk with you last week but I neglected to tell you about this cheap and easy magnetic board you can make for your classroom- oops!

cheap DIY magnetic board for retelling

Make Your Own Retelling Activities

This is a super cheap and easy way to make your own magnetic sets and boards for retelling stories. For individual retelling boards you can spray paint cookie sheets from the dollar store for a more coordinated look. Another good thing about cookie sheets, besides the fact that they are cheap is that they are also portable so students just take one to their seat or the carpet to retell the story.

david gets in trouble

Using Old Books to Create Retelling Activities

I usually have a few books lying around that are on their last legs, don’t we all? If there is nothing that can be done to revive the book I give it new life by turning it into a magnetic story.

Start by tearing or cutting the book apart and laminating the pages. Next, cut out the characters and pictures. I try to stick with just the main events in the story so I don’t end up with too many pieces. Finally, add magnetic tape to the back of each piece and place the pieces in a plastic bag in your literacy or retelling center.

Using old books is also a great way to make retelling sets for very popular stories like the No David series by David Shannon. You can imagine how popular this set is because of the infamous underwear picture! If you don’t have any old books laying around its o.k., here are a few ways you can get your hands on some for a song:

  • Goodwill
  • Salvation Army
  • Garage Sales
  • Library Book Sales- Check with your local public library to see if they have an annual used book sale
  • Scholastic bonus points

Check out my DIY Classroom board on Pinterest for more great ideas!
Follow Vanessa’s board DIY Classroom on Pinterest.

About Vanessa Levin

Vanessa is the creator of Pre-K Pages and author of the book A Fabulous First Year and Beyond: A Practical Guide for Pre-K and Kindergarten Teachers. She has more than two decades of teaching experience and enjoys helping kids and teachers through her professional development sessions. Follow Vanessa on Facebook, Google +, Twitter and Pinterest.


  1. sandy jones says:

    I let the children and parents know they can donate books to our classroom library any time they outgrow books in their own collection. Also, when I am at a yard sale I tell them if they have any books left at the end of their sale they can donate them to our classroom and I leave my EMail address. :o)

    • V. Levin says:

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your ideas Sandy! Parents are always a great source of classroom donations. Good tip about leaving your e-mail address at garage sales too! I usually ask if they will donate but I have never thought to ask for the “leftovers”- genius!

  2. Heather Ledet says:

    You could also color copy the pages you wanted to use on card stock, then laminate and affix the magnet.

    • V. Levin says:

      Thanks for sharing Heather! I’m not sure about the legality of color copying books but if you have your own scanner then you could probably do it for your own personal use.

  3. If you have a local freecycle you can get books. I have been lucky enough to get books, chairs and art materials.

    • V. Levin says:

      Thanks for reminding me about Freecycle Tonya, I had forgotten all about that service, it’s fantastic! I’ve given away many things there and received plenty too.

  4. I have gotten used books at children’s consignment shops/sales, they are usually in really good condition,and at a really good price!

  5. Deborah says:

    I wish I would have known this before I gave away and sold a ton of my old books last summer!!

    • V. Levin says:

      As Homer Simpson would say, “Doh!” JK :) Look on the bright side, now you have an excuse to go to garage sales and thrift stores! Or you can wait about a year and then you will have books that are ready to “retire” from your classroom.

  6. Melissa says:

    Love this idea!!! Can’t wait to get started on making my own! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Heidi Butkus says:

    I love that idea! Great one, Vanessa!
    Heidi Butkus

    • V. Levin says:

      Glad you like it Heidi, thanks for stopping by! Actually, I have to give credit to Karen from because she is the one who said I should post this idea. It’s something I’ve been doing for so long I thought everybody already knew about it so I never thought to share it until she encouraged me to.

      • Karen @ PreKinders says:

        Really the credit goes all to you. When you told me about it, I thought it would be great to post on your blog. It’s just something I hadn’t even thought of, yet so simple, easy, and inexpensive.

  8. Alicia B says:

    I love this! I know my Ks would love having this in a center. Now I’m excited to get back to school to do this. Thanks for sharing!

  9. I love this idea of re-using the books. Many times we have favorite books but hate to part with them. I have an additional idea for them. Instead of magnetic tape, I use the refrigerator magnets that people give away, such as politicians. I glue the print side to the picture and then cut it to shape it.

    • V. Levin says:

      Hi Mimi, thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your idea! I save those types of magnets too but never thought of using them for this activity- genius!

Printables for Pre-K and Kindergarten Teachers

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