Writing Exercises: The Story Game

Image of ‘Children’ from Wikipedia

Want to test the enduring power of story-telling? Just say “once upon a time…” and witness the effect on a child. Is it social conditioning or genetic? I don’t know, but I know we were made for stories. The ability to spin a tale is essential for story-tellers and children can learn how by playing a great little game.

Basic Formation

  1. Nominate a Time-keeper. This person will stay outside the circle.
  2. Form a circle made up of 3 or more children.
  3. One person is chosen as the spark for the story. They begin with the words ‘once upon a time…’ and continue…
  4. The Time-keeper will cry ‘next!’ after 60 seconds. Whoever is telling the story must stop and the next person will continue from where they left off.
  5. Keep going till you reach the end of the story. Or until the bell rings!


  • Relax.
  • Listen – yes, listen to the story-teller.
  • Let your mind conjure up images and sensations.
  • Be expressive/use body language.
  • Pause to heighten tension.
  • Use eye-contact.
  • Use logic (in your story-telling).
  • Insert ‘telling’ details into your story.
  • Practise!

 Spicing Things Up!

  • Leave out a Time-Keeper. A story-teller stops whenever they want, after a second, a minute…go with the flow.
  • Use a story bag filled with random objects. The first story-teller picks out an object and starts telling a story involving the object. After 60 seconds the next person picks another object and incorporates it into the story…
  • A person can be chosen to ‘act out’ the story being told.

This is a powerful game. I have watched hesitant story-tellers transformed into magical bards after two tries! Why don’t you give it a go and see where it takes you?

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