Stories connect human beings. They’re how we make sense of the world. This applies to our children, too. What’s more, storytelling aids in a child’s neurological development, sparks creative thinking, improves vocabulary, encourages imagination, improves listening skills, and develops literacy. So many good things, right? Try these storytelling games with your children to encourage hours of creativity and development.
Supplies: a piece of paper, a pencil or pen
This playful storytelling game is best played with a group because it’s an add-on story. One person starts the game by writing a few sentences of a story. That person folds the paper so only the last line of writing can be seen and passes it to the next person. That person reads the sentence and adds on to the story with their ideas, folding the paper again. This continues until the last person in the group writes an ending. Unfold, read, and prepare to laugh. These stories usually turn out to be completely wacky — and tons of fun.
Supplies: a long stick, plain or decorated
In this oral storytelling tradition, participants gather in a circle. Whoever holds the story stick tells a story, either their own or a shared story that everyone in the circle will add to when it’s their turn. Before starting, it’s helpful if an adult provides a setting, theme, or conflict for the experience, even for personal stories. If there are reluctant storytellers, encourage their thinking with questions such as, “What did you see?” or “And then what happened?”
Story stones combine the visual arts with storytelling by using stones decorated with images. Try thematic stones such as summer, fairy tales, or space. Put all your story stones into a sturdy bag. As you pull them out one by one, use the stones to tell a sequential story. Alternatively, have bags of stones separated into categories — setting, problem, character, objects — and use one stone from each category to invent a story. The possibilities are endless!
Storymatic Kids Cards by Storymatic
Supplies: Storymatic Kids cards
My family loves this silly storytelling game. In fact, it’s become a popular road-trip choice. The basic game is to pick two yellow cards to create a main character, and a blue card for a situation. For example, your two yellow cards might be “finicky eater” and “someone who only knows three words,” plus a blue card that says, “spelling bee.” Storytellers use their cards to create a story, following the rules that the main character must stay alive and change from beginning to end. I love that this teaches kids about character arcs.
eeBoo Tell Me a Story Cards
Supplies: Tell Me a Story Cards
Not only do my kids enjoy these cards at home and while traveling, but I’ve used them in writing workshops with my students, too. The cards come in themes — forest, animal village, volcano island, and fairytale — and show characters, actions, settings, and objects. Our favorite way to play with the cards is to randomly pick five and use them to narrate a story. My growing writers also like to choose one card from each story element to inspire a fictional tale.
Rory’s Story Cubes
Supplies: Rory’s Story Cubes
Small enough for on-the-go, roll nine six-sided story dice to prompt individual stories or create a group-shared story. The black and white images leave room for interpretation, which is a great way to develop out-of-the-box thinking. For example, the clock image could be many things, including the general concept of time, a school clock, or an alarm clock. Whatever kids decide to include in their stories, they’ll be stretching their imaginations.