This is a great activity for flexible thinking, as kids must let go of their own ideas, to some extent, and work with their classmates’ ideas. It is also great for practicing beginning, middle, end. It is a good one to try when you are between units or when your kids are a little squirrely.
- Have each student choose a picture to use as a writing prompt – magazines are great for this.
- Instruct students to start a story about the picture. The goal is not to finish it. Give them a set period of time to write – maybe 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the grade level. Let them know a few minutes before time is up so they can finish their last sentence or thought.
- Now, students pass their papers one student over (make sure they don’t just trade with another student, they should all pass in the same direction). Instruct students to read the story start, and then add to it. Make sure they know that they are contributing the middle, so they should not end the story. Set the timer – adding a few minutes for reading the story and thinking about it, and let the kids write again.
- One more pass in the same direction. Now, students end the story.
- Return stories to their original authors. Allow students time to share stories.
- Make sure each author puts his or her name on the paper.
- For older students, consider doing five rounds instead of three.
- It might be good to discuss the process, how it felt to add on to someone else’s work, and how it felt to have your story go in a different direction than you’d planned.
- You can also do this with art by having students begin a picture instead of a story.
- I am not exactly sure why, but this project tends to help bond a group. I have felt that way both when I have participated and facilitated the process.