This is a low preparation but high output activity which I have used successfully with teens and adults. The aim of the activity is to get students to orally create a short story in small groups or pairs.
- First of all draw a grid on the board and then put one word in each box. You can make your story grid any size you want but the bigger the grid is the more complicated the activity will become.
- You can recycle vocabulary that students are currently working on in class in the story grid, but to ensure that students can create a good story you should include a mixture of words, such as people and place names, verbs, nouns, adjectives etc., and it is usually good to throw in words that might give the story a bit more spice, such as crime, love, hate murder, theft, robbery, broken hearted, treasure, accident, etc.
- Explain to the students that the aim of the activity is to create a story using all the words in the story grid. Students can use any vocabulary or grammar they want to but they have to include all the words in the story grid.
- The first time you do this activity you can use the example story grid and model the story telling part of the activity for the students and then give the students another example story grid from the worksheet to use, or you can easily create your own story grid.
Download example story and grid 55k pdf
- Another variation is to get students to create story grids for each other to use. Next get the students to create their own stories in pairs or small groups and once the students have created their stories, they can retell their story to you, the rest of the class or to other groups.
Follow up activities and variations
- At the end of the activity the class could vote on the best stories in different categories, for example the most creative story, the most interesting story, the funniest story, the best told story etc. This activity can also be easily developed into a creative writing activity, either individually as homework or as pair or group writing practice.
- Another interesting spin-off is to get students to rewrite their stories as a radio drama. If you have recording facilities the students can perform and record their radio drama on a cassette to listen to in class. If you do not have recording facilities you can get students to write their story as a short play and try to find them an audience who they can perform to such as another English teacher or another English class.
Feedback on language use
- I find it is best to give students individual or group feedback on their language use in a storytelling activity after the students have finished telling the story for the first time.
- I usually make notes of anything I would like to go over with students while they are telling the story.
- I find interrupting students to correct their language use while they are telling the story dampens their creative mood and restricts their language use.
- If the students are going to record their story or perform it live, I get them to perform it to me again so I can help them with their language before they record it or perform it to an audience outside of the class.
By Fiona Lawtie, Teacher, Freelance materials writer