Story Game

photo (2)

Here’s a game I tried last week.  I’ll explain the rules and how we “played” it for the first time.  Then, I’ll share some of my reflections for how it could be improved or adapted.  I would be very interested to hear input from others, so if you are looking for a story-based game, try this and let me know your thoughts.

The game is adapted from a game called Once Upon a Time.  There is actually a Spanish version to Once Upon a Time, but I wanted something simpler and with a wider range of high frequency vocabulary.

There’s not much to the game pieces, but there are several variations for how to play.  I started by creating cards with story elements in Spanish (characters, actions, descriptions, places).  They can be found here:

Cuentos – cards

I printed the pieces onto cardstock and cut them out.  I gave 6 to each student and put them in groups of 3-5.  I had in mind several versions of the game that range from simple to complex.  We tried the first few in class.  The more complex versions would be the most effective, but they may only be possible with small classes and/or advanced students.

Version 1 (easiest): Within the group, each student makes a story out of his cards and shares it orally to the group.  The group votes on the most interesting.

Version 2: Groups work together to build a story out of all their cards.  The first group to create a story of at least 12 cards and tell it to the teacher wins.  Variation – The most interesting story wins.

Version 3:  Students work together in the group to create a story.  Play begins with one student and then rotates around the circle.  Students can play or pass at each turn.  If they have no play, decide to pass or use English, they forfeit their turn.  The first student to run out of cards wins.  He/she must tell the entire story to the teacher to receive a prize.

Version 4 (most similar to the original version of Once Upon a Time): Similar to version 3, but the order does not necessarily move around the circle.  One student begins the story.  Other students can take over at any time.  Another player takes over when the current storyteller uses a term that matches a card he/she has in hand.  Another player can also take over at any time by playing a “me toca a mí ” interruption card.


* Students should be encouraged to keep the story in third person.  Action cards have two forms (singular and plural).

*Students are permitted and encouraged to add as much as they want between cards that they play.

*The main objective is for students to put together stories.  It is not for them to spend time thinking about structure.  If students have cards they do not understand, allow them to exchange for terms with which they feel more comfortable.  Give students (print or projected) useful connector words or story builder words.

*After playing any version of the game, students could be asked to write their final story or share it with others.

*The cards could also be used for free writing.

*Some students/groups did better than others at creating interesting stories.  The best groups added much between each card while other groups simply combined several cards into one long sentence.  I am considering the most effective ways to promote the former and would welcome any ideas.

This entry was posted in Classroom activities, Communicative Activities, Games. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Story Game

  1. Martina Bex says:

    Reblogged this on The Comprehensible Classroom and commented:
    A fun storytelling game (writing or speaking activity) from Bryan Kandel. Check it out!

  2. Frau Leonard says:

    Very cute idea – I’ll have to take a look at the original Once Upon a Time game and see what I could pull together for my German students. Thanks for sharing – this is definitely something worth a try!

  3. I tried this activity with all three of my levels at the end of last week and my students LOVED this activity! We tried Versions 1 & 2 orally, and certain hours used the cards for a free-write. I loved watching students use their Spanish without so much direction from me, and I also liked that students seemed interested in the activity. I even had students leave class saying “We should play this more often!”

    When we played, I offered a few prizes and incentives which I do not typically do. When we played Version 1, I offered cheap Target glitter pencils to the winner from each group. After Version 1, I asked the winner in each group to tell the whole class their story and then we voted on the most unique story. The winning student won an exemption from doing the written portion at the end of class. As far as my classroom is concerned, adding small prizes might have added to the novelty or they might not have. Kind of hard to say!

    Thank you SO much for sharing this activity! =)

  4. Pingback: Self-Created Riff on “The Story Game” | Language Sensei

  5. Brigitte says:

    What a fantastic idea! Do you give random cards to each student? Or do you make sure that everyone gets one from each category?

  6. Pingback: See It + Say/Hear It = Recall It (Ideas to Add Visuals To Aid Learning) | Language Sensei

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