Slice of Life: Shuffle the Cards and Make Stories

(This is a Slice of Life post, as facilitated by Two Writing Teachers. Lots of educators are writing about the small moments of their days. You write, too.)

kevin 2 storyteller cards pic

I recently wrote a piece for my Working Draft blog over at Middleweb about using a fun, new way to get my students to write stories. Storyteller Cards. They’re pretty nifty and strange, and perfect for sparking interest from my young writers. At the time, I had just introduced the cards to some students, and asked them for suggestions.

Each card has information: a character in a setting, with an object, doing something. Other bits of information along the edges of the cards include a mood, a season, a letter and a playing card suit/number.

This is an image from the Storyteller Card site: An Anatomy of a Card.


Yesterday, I pulled out the deck of cards for all four of my classes and we created a story-writing game of sorts that engaged my sixth graders so much, they were leaving the class asking when we could write again.

This is how we played:

  • Everyone gets two cards, face down. No looking.
  • We all flip one card together, spend a few minutes examining it (lots of excitement when this happened), and begin a short story with that character and some information from the card.
  • We write for 7 to 10 minutes. Keep writing.
  • Then, we flip the second card and add a new surprise character into the story underway (this flip kicks in the giggles and sharing with friends and “what is this?” comments all over the room)
  • Write for another 10 minutes.
  • Share out stories.

Ideally, the third step of this “game” would have been to trade your card with someone next to you, but we never got there. This activity engaged my students and also provided a nice creative break from our Parts of Speech unit and open response prep work that we are doing as we eye our state tests on the horizon.

My co-teacher, seeing the engagement of our writers, made the astute observation:

What if the state test was all about this kind of writing?

What if? As if.

Peace (in the cards),


  1. My mind is SPINNING with ideas for these cards!!! Thank you for sharing! 🙂 You always have the best new resources and ideas!

  2. These are terrific, Kevin. So many possibilities. Eeboo has a similar series of cards for younger kids that I love. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I love the break it gave your kids to just push the ideas seamlessly forward. I’ve used cards to spark before–but they didn’t look quite as cool as yours! Where did those come from?

  4. Wonderful ideas! These Storyteller cards are wonderful for ESL students as there is some information to guide them! Thanks for sharing!

  5. These are great. I could totally see why 6th graders or middle schoolers would love these cards. Heck, I think they might inspire my five year old to tell some stories!

  6. What if, indeed! I’m going to check out these cards for my after school digital writing club. I’m thinking they would love these and then we’ll see what they create.

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