Introduction to Storytelling

Educational Objective:

Students will be able to identify the basics of storytelling after class discussion and shall demonstrate them through the improv game “Liar.”


Materials Needed:

• White board
• White board markers


Hook/Introduction to Storytelling:

Go around the classroom and ask each student to tell a short story about the origin (or how he/she received it) of his or her name (be that the first name, the middle, or the last, or even a nickname). The student should stand as he or she tells the story and be aware of the entire class as an audience. Ask them to keep it to less than a minute—it would be best for the teacher to start in order to give an example.



After everyone has been able to tell a story about his or her name, ask the students how it felt to be able to tell a story about themselves to the class. Ask them if they think that storytelling ties into improvisation. If so, how?


Step 1 (Discussion):

Ask the students to give examples of good storytelling in an improv setting. Write these elements on the board. The name stories just told can be used as examples in some instances. Some elements that should be mentioned:
• Plot (beginning, middle, end)
• Setting
• Characters
• Consistency
• Imagination
• Yes, and… principle
Also, stress the importance of respect for the audience. This will include keeping stories school-appropriate.


Step 2 (Instruction):

Inform the students that you will be teaching them various storytelling games and techniques in this unit to better help them create fun and compelling improvisations throughout the semester.


Step 3 (Informal Assessment):

For the rest of the time, teach and allow the students to play “Liar.” This game is played by having one student stand in front of the class and tell a story. This is also the same game that will be used in the final assessment for the unit. Before the teller begins, ask the rest of the class for a setting and a conflict. The student telling the story must tie these elements into the story. At any point, the audience may yell “liar!” at the teller. When this happens, the teller must change what he or she just said. For example:
Teller: I walked into the bookstore…
Audience: LIAR!
Teller: I army crawled into the bookstore…
The audience is capable of yelling “liar!” at any point and multiple times at once, but stress that they must allow the storyteller to tell the story. It may be best to have the teacher be the only one allowed to yell “lair!” until it feels that the class understands the rhythm. As different stories are told, be sure to ask what good elements are being used. The teller should never say “I didn’t do _____, I did ______ instead”, because it breaks the flow. Simply change what happened.


Step 4 (Class Discussion):

Ask the students, after having watched a few rounds of “Liar” and picking out what worked, think back to the discussion of what a good story consists of. Discuss what else was learned and how those elements show in “Liar.” What could be better? What techniques could be use to make sure each element is touched upon?



Depending on the nature of the classroom, the students can be advised at the end of the class period that “Liar” will be how they will be tested at the end of the unit, but it is not necessary. This is meant so that you may be able to help the students to 1) know the game and 2) help them see what it is that you will be looking for before they have to even start worrying about an assessment.



Ask students to bring an artifact from home to share a story about.