Stories and storytelling

I’ve written about one of my favourite games, Once Upon a Time… and today I present a lesson plan to cover introduction to storytelling.

Group age: 11-12

Group level: pre-intermediate

Time: 90 minutes

a shortened lesson plan: stories and storytelling lessonplan

Introduction of the topic is absolutely up to a teacher as it depends on a group, so I will give some tips on vocabulary and making a story.

  • Vocabulary (genre)

It helps both me and students to set the story in nice frames. I usually use the following stories (I elicit words by saying film/ book titles): crime, western, disaster, historical, horror, thriller, love, war, detective, sci-fi, fantasy (I explain the difference between those two), adventure, comic, family saga and fairy tale

  • Vocabulary (describing people)

1. Matching adjectives with their opposites, e.g.:

tall/small, weak/strong, young/old, fat/thin, beautiful/ugly, big/small etc.

2. Matching the parts of the face with the list of adjectives used to described them, e.g.:

EARS (big, cauliflower, sticky-out)

NOSE (big, snub, pointed)

EYES (big, bright, blue)

LIPS (thin, full, wide)

3. Putting the adverbs in order from the weakest to the strongest, e.g.:

not very – quite – fairly – very – really – extremely – absolutely

I explain two archetypical characters in any story – a hero and a villain, and make students describe them using the words they have just revised. After that, we briefly revise Past Simple and Past Continues as tenses needed for the story (that is, if students haven’t learnt Perfect tenses yet) and then we make our first story – extremely cliché, but it’s made for getting the general idea of storytelling. I write a sentence: Once upon a Time… and explain that we usually start storytelling with this opening. Then I write …there lived a beautiful princess – and students try to enrich this sentence describing the princess’  looks, living conditions and, naturally, giving her a name. When they finish, I write another sentence: The old witch changed her into a frog. Students have a lot to explain – who was the witch and why didn’t she like the princess (in my case that was obvious as the group created such an evil and cruel princess that everyone hated her). Next goes: One day a brave knight kissed the frog… and the first and most important question is not about his name, appearance or frog-meeting circumstances but: who on Earth and why kisses frogs?! Whatever: … and the frog turned into a beautiful girl (mind, it doesn’t have to be the princess) – students describe the girl, what happened after the change and was the knight really happy about it (one does not necessarily expect a frog to turn into a girl, even a beautiful one). Anyway: They got married and lived happily ever after – I say it’s the typical ending of the story, but…

…but now they are going to write their own stories and they may use any ending they like. I give them dictionaries, put them into groups, give them a couple of random Once Upon a Time… cards and help them occasionally. They are going to write their first stories and later you may play the version when they swap papers with other groups – I like using it as a nice game after a particularly boring piece of grammar or when the students are sleepy and don’t feel like working: practising the passive voice by making stories does sound like fun, doesn’t it?

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