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What is a story?

This is great activity to help children learn how stories work; and is also a useful first stage for developing a story from scratch.

You will need

An assortment of magazines, newspaper supplements etc, scissors, pots to put them in.


Collect a real variety of images for each of the categories below. You can involve the class in this activity, or you can prepare in advance and use this activity to spark discussion. Or cheat and start your collection with our ready prepared pdfs.


Gather a wide selection of age, gender, ethnic background. Try to find interesting faces. You might choose pictures with more than one person, a group of friends, say, or businessmen sitting across a desk. Download sample characters 1 pdfDownload sample characters 2 pdf


Anywhere in this world, and beyond! Remember to choose interiors as well as exteriors. Download sample settings pdf


Or I should say potential scenarios: an earthquake, a shark, an open wallet, a lonely hearts ad, a big cake.... (these might need text in addition)

The Activity

Cut out each picture that fall under the headings and put them in the containers. Divide the class into groups and ask them to pick one image from each container. (they shouldn't know what they are going to get) Their task is to come up with a story using these images.

  • But they must keep it simple
  • And set a time limit

Share and discuss

Get each group to describe their story in three sentences: the beginning, the middle and the end. Once all the groups have presented, this is a great opportunity to get the class talking about which of these brief synopsis appeals to them, and why!

  • Storycubes are another excellent way of getting started, although you don't have quite as much control as you do with our activity.