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Tell me a story

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By Bev Long — Educational Consultant

This non-competitive game, for up to four players, supporting oral storytelling uses a variety of settings, characters, scenarios and optional objects. The game could also be used to support planning for writing.

The printed version can be played with dice or using a home-made spinner. A spinner template is also available for you to download. The online version of the game has a virtual spinner.


Before playing

Decide which way you wish to play the game from the options below, then explain to the children what they have to do. Model how to select a setting, characters and scenario and model how to use these to tell a story.

Playing the game


  • Play starts by focusing on the outside circle (settings). Players take turns to spin the spinner to select a setting for their story. (If using the home-made numbered spinner, match the number spun to the numbers on the board. If using the downloadable poster, a setting, scenario and characters will be chosen at random when the board stops spinning.)
  • Now the players take turns, spinning again to select two characters for their story.
  • Finally, players spin to select one scenario from the inner circle.

Previous learning

Children will need to have heard a range of stories and understand some of the elements of different types of story.


  • Collect a range of story language words and phrases – eg, in a class display or from the activity sheet below.
  • Each player will also need at least 3 counters, one for each character, setting and scenario.
  • If you wish, you can also let the children choose any relevant objects from around the outside of the poster.
  • When the children have selected their settings, characters and scenario, plus any additional story objects, invite them to take turns to suggest a simple storyline, using all their chosen elements and some familiar story language. The more the children play the game, the better, and more confident they will get at suggesting ideas.

Alternative ways of playing the game

  • Use the spinner to select the story setting and two characters per story, but let the children choose their own scenario. This could lead to discussions about which scenario would be most appropriate for the characters and setting – or the most interesting, most comical, most unusual, etc.
  • Use the spinner to select three characters for the story – eg, one bad and two good.

Key learning outcomes:

  • To tell imagined stories in an audible voice, ordering events and using familiar story language;
  • To take turns to speak/listen to others’ suggestions;
  • To explore familiar themes/characters through improvisation/role play;
  • To act out their own stories, using voices for characters; To use new and interesting words/phrases, including story language.

Follow-up activities

  • After they have practised telling their stories out loud, tape-record or film the children telling the stories.
  • Make puppets and story boxes (costume items, props etc) to accompany the stories. Film these versions, or take a series of photographs to show the stages in the story as they are acted out.
  • Invite the children to make a map of their story.
  • Use the oral stories as plans for written stories, encouraging the children to flesh out their basic ideas with more detail and using as much story language as possible. Get them to think about:
    • a good opening sentence
    • how they can describe the setting in more detail;
    • how they can describe the characters in more detail;
    • whether they can add any extra events to make their scenario more interesting (perhaps they could even add a surprise at the end).
  • Use the activity sheet below to support children’s use of story language.


  1. cmhare
    on 1 October 2010

    interactive tell me a story

    This will solve an ideas problem for stories with familiar settings! Thanks