Fun Interactive Learning Game for Kids: How to Tell the Best Stories This Thanksgiving by Jocelyn Greene

Activities Holidays
2 years ago

On Thanksgiving night, sometime before the tryptophan sets in, we’ll be playing a new game inspired by a writing exercise from my son’s fourth grade class. The kids summarized the plot of a story using certain words. So I thought, “Why not use these same words to tell a whole story?” I tried it out, and the results were delightful!

Like any favorite recipe (or improvisation game!), adjust for “seasoning”: tweak it, add to it and let me know how it goes if you play in the comments section below.

Somebody ... Wanted ... But. .. So ... Then

Five (or more) players at a time. Write the following on index cards or sticky notes. Write one word per card.


  1. Shuffle the cards and place them with the word-side down on the table. Everyone picks a card. 
  2. Share with the group the word you picked. Then, adjust yourselves so you are in the above order. 
  3. First, say your words aloud and even add a gesture like in the video.
  4. With your crew, make up a story on the spot! Each player starts their portion with the word on their card, and play proceeds in order. Remember to be flexible and support your fellow storytellers by building on what they said.

The Building Blocks of the Story

SOMEBODY = Main character

Start with a compelling subject. Give them a name and descriptive adjectives. Find inspiration from the animal kingdom, extra-terrestrials or even heroes/villains from your favorite book or show.


What does that character need? You can make it epic or goofy, but remember that this sets the rest of the story in motion, so something compelling is best.

BUT = Conflict

This one little word ushers in the conflict or challenge. Invent the plot twist that makes the story dramatic and gives the “Somebody” an obstacle worth a bit of struggle!

SO = Overcoming

Here is the problem-solving portion of the story. The person who pulls this card must devise adults a solution to the problem.

THEN = Resolution

How does the story conclude? (Make sure to wrap up the story without introducing a new problem.) While you don’t need to tie it in a perfect bow, the last person must create a sense of closure and bring the story home.


Somebody ... A frustrated butterfly.

Wanted ... to pollinate the flowers.

But ... she was stuck on display in the Natural History Museum!

So ... she found a museum guard who set her free.

Then ... the butterfly flew out into Central Park, drank nectar and happily spread pollen everywhere!

Skills You Get From This Game

The best way to reinforce the all-important cognitive skill set of executive functioning (proven to set kids up for success) is through play. This game gives us all practice in active listeningcommunication, flexible thinking, focus and turn-taking.

Most importantly, through this game, we learn to place value on imagination, honor creative impulses and release inhibitions. Because of the pace of play, there isn’t time to listen to a critical voice in our heads (the curse of writer’s block). Every idea can be a great idea, and how exciting is that? 

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Learning Games $6 & Up
Workbooks $4 & Up

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Ann Marie Patitucci
I absolutely love this! Thanks, Jocelyn Greene !
Elisa Schmitz
Wonderful idea. We all need some family fun time on Thanksgiving, especially this year. Thank you for sharing the fun, Jocelyn Greene !
That's a great idea!

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