ONCE UPON A TIME – A LESSON PLAN

esl gamesHi everyone! I´m so sorry I wasn’t able to get together with you for Sunday Best last weekend but I was preparing something really special for you. In fact, it will be the focus of this week’s Sunday Best, if I can hold my tongue until then that is!

Today I want to share an incredible game and lesson plan with you which I created for my young students but that has actually been an incredibly big hit with adults as well.

In this game I call ‘Once Upon a Time’, students become storytellers, not of someone else’s stories but of their own. Students will be presented with three sets of story sticks, the green sticks represent the place where their story will take place, the blue will be their main character(s) and the red (my personal favorite) will be the central problem of the plot or a problem their main character must endure or overcome. Using games in the classroom

You can download my set of story sticks here and print them on card paper, or you can certainly edit the document or make your own. Making them on popsicle sticks by hand is even more fun, but if you’re pressed for time this is a faster option. Here are the steps to set up this activity in class:

1) As a warmer I like to ask students about some famous stories they might know or ask them to recap one we have worked in class. I use the one they choose to elicit who the main character is, where the story takes place and what the main problem or challenge is. That way, they’ve come up with examples themselves to serve as inspiration.

2) Ask each student to select one story stick of each color. In the first two or three rounds I always let them read through all the sticks and choose the one they like the best. In the next rounds I have them choose them at random (the funniest and craziest stories will come up at this point). Of course if you’re teaching a large class it might be best to do this at random from the beginning, students might take a long time choosing at the rest of the students might get restless.

3) Give students a few minutes to think about their story.

4) Students take turns telling their stories.

5) Awards ceremony: After a very creative lesson like this where students have worked really hard I always like to have a little awards ceremony. Click here to download my award envelopes. Inside I write what the prize is. In my case this usually includes earning one or two star stickers (I use a sticker system in my classes), being able to choose the extra activity or game next class, stickers, being able to choose and animated short to watch or the next song we will sing in class. These may vary depending on the type of class you have, so I’ve left the envelopes blank so that you can adapt them. If you find them to be too small, you can always select the figures and make them larger. Storytelling

My categories include:

– Creativity

– Best Character

– Best storytelling (pronunciation and fluency)

– Best grammar

– Best use of vocabulary

– Best behavior (and this includes their behavior while telling the story as well as their behavior while listening to their classmates stories).

I have to tell you, I have a big box of games and activities for my young students, but no other game has provided as much concentration, interest and good behavior as this one. Phrasal verb UNO comes in second in this department. It’s also great for you to check students’ progress and see what areas need a little more review or focus.storytelling game

I hope you enjoy it! Ask me any questions or leave me some comments in the section below. If you try this out and have some incredible stories (it’s amazing what their little minds can come up with), please share them in the comments as well!

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6 thoughts on “ONCE UPON A TIME – A LESSON PLAN

  1. Pingback: Make your own Storytelling Games! | Alternate Tutelage

  2. Thanks for the resources! I’m going to adapt this with my advanced student. I found a list of advanced story telling words to include, so to make it more difficult I’ll have him draw papers with the words, and he can’t move on to the next word until he finds a way to use it in his story. The more words he gets through successfully in a story, the more points he’ll get. We’ll see how it goes!

  3. Hi there! Thanks for the work you do, this is awesome. Wondering – the students have multiple sticks per scenario and then, they decide only on one for each of the three scenarios. Afterwards, do they tell their story around those 3 pieces of information to everyone or how is each student’s story communicated? Thanks 🙂

    • Hi Alicia,

      So sorry for taking so long to answer your question! Yes, if you have a large group you can divide the students into smaller groups and give them time to create their stories and then each one gets a chance to briefly tell their story to the group. You can also wrap up the activity by choosing one which you thought was particularly original and have them tell the class about it if they want to. Or make it optional by asking: “Who would like to tell their story to the class?” But in general, yes, all students should get their turn in the smaller groups to tell their story. You can also follow up this activity with a written homework of having them expand the story on paper. My students all love this game and it really gets them talking.

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