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~ Literacy & Language Arts ~


Need: Up to you - they can play right from their desks or you can set them up however you like; you can do this orally or have them share a piece of paper and pass it back and forth, or do this altogether on a whiteboard

Time: 5-30 minutes (however long you find it supportive) 

Play: They take turns adding the next sentence to the story.  You can ground this in whatever story rules they are practicing (story structure, narrative elements, character-driven, plot points, expanding world, etc).  If you want to make a performance game of it, they can get up in front of each other and improvise a spoken story together (again, one sentence at a time, moving through the story structure until they arrive at a natural ending).  

Tie In:  Reinforces listening skills, collaborative abilities, and their understanding of what is needed in a story.  It also allows them to drive story forward by making connections and expanding on what has already been presented, demonstrating their comprehension and capacity to engage with the content to co-create story structure.


Need: nothing - you can do this as a whole class or organize them into teams, seated together

Time: could be a warm-up exercise to generate ideas or a full lesson

Play:  Invite one of them (at a time) to volunteer - this is the character canvas.  Then they take turns endowing this character (it helps if you direct them with structure, for example, "let's give them an emotion" and "let's give them a want", etc).  Try for 3-4 traits and then invite the volunteer to recite a line of dialogue/statement from this character.  It is super important to emphasize peer support - however the volunteer applies the traits, they all cheer! Then as a whole class or in groups, they can have fun putting this character into different settings and situations and exploring how they would react (this can be a written or oral/performance exercise).  A new round would allow for a new volunteer.

Tie In: Exploring character traits and what makes a character, then exploring how these traits influcence the character in different situations in order to create story. This is also a great exercise to build confidence for public speaking, presentation/performance skills, and peer support since they are working together to give the volunteer ideas to explore.  


Need: nothing - you can do this as a whole class or organize them into teams, seated together

Time: could be a warm-up exercise (5-10 min) to generate ideas, or a full lesson

Play:  Ground this in whatever story-skill you are focusing on (ie beginning, middle, end or cahracter development, or plot points/story structure, etc).  Then invite them one at a time to create a story together, one sentence at a time but each person starts their sentence with the next letter of the alphabet. (Eg, Ashley was a mermaid.  But she was always wondering what it would be like to have feet.  Could she ever find a way to be part of that worrrrrld*!?). You can invite them to incorporate dialogue, setting, action - again cater it to what your focusing on.  Typically it's nice when you end the story at the letter you started with, so they have a bit of structure to guide their choices (when is it time for rising action, when is it time for resolution, etc). And you can start with any letter, it doesn't have to be A!  *A proud adult Disney woman, am I.

Tie In: This reinforces a familiarity with story structure, what is needed in a story, and you can tailor it to practice whatever story skills the kids are working on.  The added challenge of ABC leads to a lot of laughs, invites their creativity and playfulness, which allows them to make new choices that they may not have otherwise, but they can learn a lot from that!  Plus, when they go back to creating a story without ABC they might find it is all of a sudden so much easier...  Sometimes they know & understand more than they (or you!) realize, and adding a twist/challenge can highlight that and elevate their confidence.

MORE Improv Exercises for the Classroom


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