Three Writing Games

Looking for a fun activity to stretch your students’ imaginations? In search of an easy substitute for your regular lesson on a day you aren’t feeling well or are just stretched too thin to prepare everything in time? Interested in a random new game that your students will love?

If so, these writing games may be just what you’re looking for. Not only is writing an essential skill and learning tool, it can also be a wonderful way to tickle your students’ imaginations while providing a fun learning activity. These three writing games have been favorites for my students over the years.

Popcorn Writing

Materials needed:

  • Piece of paper for each student
  • Timer
  • A way to randomly select each student one by one (for example, writing their names on slips of paper and picking them out of a dish)
  • Sentence starter (optional—see below)

In this game, each student will write a story. Students may start writing about anything; I have found it often works best to give them a sentence starter to get them going. A few sentence starter ideas are as follows:

  • It was a perfect day for a soccer game, so no one expected anything to go wrong.
  • I gasped as I peered through my binoculars.
  • It all started when I poured orange juice on my breakfast cereal.
  • Paul couldn’t believe what was standing in front of him.
  • I was doing my homework when I heard a loud crash coming from downstairs.
  • The day I got my pet cat was also the day the trouble began.
  • It sounded like a trumpet, and it was coming from outside.

As the students are writing, the teacher should start a timer for a set increment of time (45 seconds works well). When the timer rings, the teacher will randomly select a student. That student should say the word they just wrote on their paper. Every other student then needs to use that particular word in their own story within the next 45 seconds when the timer will ring again.

So, for example, if Student A is selected and they just wrote the word “fountain,” then every other student must somehow include the word fountain as they keep writing their own story. After another 45 seconds passes and the timer beeps again, repeat the process with another student. Perhaps student B has just written the word “rhinoceros.” Now every other student needs to find a way to make a rhinoceros show up in their story. Encourage students to be creative in this; perhaps they will simply describe something as being “as big as a rhinoceros.”

If a student has just written a boring word, like “the,” “an,” “and,” “when,” etc., I will let them say the second-last word they wrote. This makes the game more interesting and fun.

You may continue this activity for as long as time allows or until every student has been chosen at least once. Whenever you decide to wrap things up, give the students a minute or two to complete their story and make it feel finished in some way.

Don’t forget to give students a chance to share their stories with each other! Students absolutely love getting to hear how their peers used the same words in a totally different way, and they enjoy the random, somewhat crazy nature of the stories they end up with. This activity is a great way to promote flexible, creative thinking.

Picture Book Cover-Up

Materials needed:

  • A picture book for each student (must be a story that is unfamiliar to the student)
  • Small pieces of opaque paper (construction paper works well)
  • Adhesive putty (or some other non-permanent, non-damaging adhesive)

Disclaimer: This game involves some preparation beforehand, and that can be somewhat time-consuming. However, teachers of older students could have their fast finishers help them with this part of the process in the day(s) leading up to doing the activity.

Prepare the picture books by covering all of the words with slips of paper. Paper can be cut to the appropriate size and attached to the book page using a non-permanent adhesive. Each book should have all of the words concealed, with the pictures still visible.

Each student will then receive a picture book. They should look at the pictures and come up with a story that would make sense with the images they see. Students can write their stories on top of the paper that is covering the original words.

It is great fun to have these books available for students to read and enjoy each other’s writing! When finished, you can have each student pull off the papers in the book they “wrote,” and have them take a few minutes to read what the original story was about. This activity is a fun way to exercise story-writing skills in a low-pressure way.

Sandwich Story

Materials needed:

To understand this activity, picture a story written out on a piece of paper. Now, imagine that a giant eraser has completely removed whole chunks of the story, leaving only sporadic sentences behind. The first few sentences are there, but the next two paragraphs have been erased. Then there is another sentence, followed by a few more erased paragraphs, and so on, until you arrive at the last sentence of the story.

Now, imagine that your students are going to work together to fill in the missing spaces between the sentences that have been left behind on the page. Each student will fill in one blank space, “sandwiching” their writing between the existing sentences and creating a flow from one given sentence to the next. Their goal is to write something that makes sense and keeps the story going. At the end, the entire story will be filled in by the collaborative efforts of individual students writing their own little parts.

In reality, each student is given a sheet of paper with one sentence at the top of the page and one sentence at the bottom. These handouts should align with each other so that Student A’s last sentence is Student B’s first sentence, and Student B’s last sentence is Student C’s first sentence, and so on. That way each child is filling in one part of the story, picking up where the student before left off. These “sandwiches” can then be combined to make a cohesive whole.

One of the fun elements of this game is that each student will fill in their part of the story without knowing what the other students are writing. This makes the final product unpredictable and usually pretty funny.

Below, you will find pre-made handouts that you can use for this activity. Alternatively, you can always make your own by creating your own sequence of sentences. You will notice the handouts are labelled according to how many parts they have. Obviously, the size of your class will determine which handout you will find the most useful. I have always used this activity with larger classes (12 students or more), so I have simply made two or three sets of the same handouts. So, if you have 13 students, you could use the 6-part handout and the 7-part handout. In the end, this will create two different stories for you and your students to enjoy.

Once all the parts of the story have been written, put them together in order and read them aloud! The collaborative nature of this activity makes it so fun for students—there’s something enthralling about having their writing be part of a bigger whole.

Writing games are the perfect way to spice up your next writing class or to pull out of your back pocket for a sluggish day in the middle of winter. Games like these are so much more than games—they allow your students to imagine, create, and thrive in new ways.

Link to Sandwich Story Handouts:

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