During one of the games this year a student said “I wish there was a game of cards with aliens!” and the idea for the Tell Me a Story PBL was born. Students brainstormed ideas of different decks, voted on the three most popular choices and were put into three different work groups. These groups had to brainstorm characters, settings, and elements of plot to plan out their story. They had to make team decisions on these things as well as the more logistical components of creating these decks such as who would be illustrating, coloring, keeping track of the cards, etc.
They worked with enthusiasm for two solid weeks on this project and really worked well as a team. They communicated with each other and addressed any challenges that came up with a growth mindset. All of the second graders were so very excited to play when the actual game cards arrived from the publisher.
This is a great activity for several reasons. First of all, it is inclusive and everyone has a turn to be creative and add to the story in their own way, while simultaneously building upon a collective storyline. The second graders really have to listen and pay attention to each other in order to follow the previously played card to continue a coherent story. They communicate ideas and suggestions to each other easily, while still respecting each student’s contribution to the plot, no matter how crazy it might be. Students practice using transition words or phrases to continue events in the story. Things like “Meanwhile…, Suddenly…, However…, But little did they know on the other side of the world…” are now being naturally used not only in this activity, but also in the student’s writing as well.
Oral storytelling has been a part of human history since there has been oral language. Research suggests that oral storytelling not only provides an opportunity for strengthening vocabulary, creativity and interpersonal skills, but that it also supports the improvement of critical thinking skills, active engagement in learning and narrative thinking abilities.
These are all great skills that are reinforced in a quick game! You can find these games online if you wanted to have a deck or two and can also borrow the special edition student created versions from our classroom!
Agosto, Denise. (2013). If I Had Three Wishes: The Educational and Social/Emotional Benefits of Oral Storytelling. Storytelling, Self, Society. 9. 53-76. 10.13110/storselfsoci.9.1.0053.