(Spontaneity, Taking Creative Risks, Collaboration)
Suggested for grades 5-8
How to Play: Step 1 (Teacher demo)
Pick three volunteers. Have them come to the front of the room.
Ask each volunteer to come up with a word that has nothing to do with anything in the current classroom conversation. They might just think one up, or ask a friend, open a book and randomly point to a text—anything goes to find a random word. Set a time limit: 30 seconds or so. Explain that they don’t want to overthink it.
You, the teacher, start to tell a quick one-to-two minute story. It doesn’t have to be interesting—tell about last night’s trip to the grocery store, or talk about your dog.
Point, one at a time, at your volunteers. When you point to a volunteer, that student blurts out the word they thought of in advance.
As seamlessly as possible, use that word in your story. Once you’ve done so, point to the next volunteer.
Be amazed at your storytelling brilliance!
Step Two: Student Storyteller OR Small Groups
Once you’ve broken the ice by demoing the game, ask for a volunteer to tell a story, and three new volunteers to offer random words. This can happen as a performance in front of the class, or you can form groups of four and have everyone try it together.
Sample Debrief Questions:
“What was it like, incorporating those random words into your story?
Did the story change because of the words?
Who was doing the improvising?
(If there was laughter) What was funny?
When do we feel like this in regular life?
Points to Underscore in Debrief:
We can make something happen with new input that is outside the plan, if we have fun with it.
We like to laugh with someone who is good natured about a creative risk or failure: that’s a lot different than laughing AT someone.
2 minutes per story
Number of Players:
You can play alone. It’s even more fun in pairs and groups
As a review activity, use content words instead of truly random words.
Advanced: As a problem-solving exercise, get a problem to solve, like, “I locked myself out of the house.” tell a story about how those three words helped you address your issue.
Create the story collaboratively.
Add random words as you go by having a playmate shout them out at random times.
Tips to remember:
Don't try to figure out your story ahead of time. Start speaking before you’re ready.
If you are giving words to others, make them as random and unrelated as possible. It’s really both more fun and perhaps even easier that way. You are offering more inspiration.
Don’t worry about telling a “good” story. You’re just making it up, for heaven’s sake!