In the Random Story activity, students write a story involving ten random items they chose beforehand.
Students can complete this task individually, but it’s usually better in small groups of two or three. Each group will need a piece of paper/notebook.
Write/project the following list on the board (feel free to alter as you wish):
1) a job
2) a scary animal
3) a girl’s name
4) a mode of transportation
5) a household object
6) a disgusting food
7) a boy’s name
8) a country you would never go to
9) a celebrity
10) a quote from a movie
- The groups have to write one example of each of the ten things on the board. Encourage them to be creative and not just choose the obvious ones. Don’t tell them why they’re doing it yet!
- When they have finished, explain that they are now going to write a short story which involves these ten random things. They have to use all of them, but they can add more things and change the order they appear. Again, encourage them to be creative and make the story dramatic and exciting.
- When they finish writing their story, each group reads it aloud to the class (or another group with very large classes). As an extension, you could even get them to act out the story.
Tip: To make sure students listen, you could ask them to name the ten things listed in the last story that was read.
The Random Story ESL Activity can work well as an extended warmer with high intermediate or advanced students (especially if you need some time to sort other things out at the start of class!).
Lower level students will need more time, so it is best used during the main class. Whatever the level, it is perfect for practising narrative tenses. You could focus on just the past simple, or ask students to include examples of the past continuous, past perfect simple and/or past perfect continuous too.
You could also use it in a class on adjectives or adverbs, with the focus on detailed descriptions. And if your vocabulary topic is travel, simply specify that the story should be a journey, quest or adventure to a new place.
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