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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wednesday's for Kids X -- PASS ALONG STORYTELLING

(I highly recommend this, by
the way.)
Scroll down to get to my 7th graders' creative efforts.

I had a best friend once.  We met at church.  We were Boy Scouts together.  We played chess together.  Most importantly--most significantly--we told stories together.  (Gives you a pretty good indication of the kind of kid I was, huh?)  The best stories were those that we called our "cha-ching" stories, and they worked like this:

One of us would go to the other's house for a Friday night sleepover.  We'd have dinner.  We'd play a video game.  We would spy on the younger siblings resident to the given home.  Then, once everyone was asleep, we'd steel a flashlight from the storage room, hole up in a bedroom, and one of us would begin our story for the night.  We'd each go for five or ten minutes, extemporizing on themes alien, ghostly, and monstrous, among others, and then, at some key point, ominously announce, "cha-ching," and the other would take over.  This would go on all night.

It was tremendous fun and tremendously geeky.  When he moved to Utah with his family (his parents had recently split up and his mom took him and his brother and sister to, I believe, Utah State, where she finished her art degree) and left me in Ohio, we found a new medium for our stories: mail.  We reclaimed our "cha-ching" stories and passed them along by correspondence.  We only ever managed one story this way, which we faithfully believed would eventually become a publishable novel, and still I remember it clearly: a junior high kid creatively named Albert ingeniously invents an invisibility formula.  He has many adventures, of course, but they never came to a conclusion.  This lack of ending was perhaps the greatest weakness of our creations (and not particular to the mailer), while simultaneously providing inherent fun.  These stories would go on forever--as kids in bedrooms with flashlights, until the sun came up and breakfast was ready; as eighth graders at computer keyboards with envelopes and stamps at the ready, until we were both sadly too cool and too lazy for it.  (Of course, laziness was most likely the dominant contributor, because though I can't conscionably speak for my friend, I was certainly NEVER too cool for anything.)

Whatever the past, now there is a better way.  While I haven't invented it, I can't for the life me remember when I first encountered it.  The results are generally bizarre, often funny, and always a riot to create.  It works best in a classroom where there need to be at least five or six participants (big families or parties work too).  Thirty-five or -six is better.

Everyone starts with a piece of lined paper.  By prompt of the teacher (today's prompt was "barn animal has a problem and takes it too his/her friend for advice/assistance), all students write four- or five-and-a-half lines of narration.  It is crucial that the last line is only half-completed, and better still if the final word written is in the middle of a sentence.  I usually permit ninety seconds per round.   Each student then folds back the top of the paper so only the half-line is showing.  The papers are traded and the story continues.  The catch, of course, is that the next writer takes up the story based solely upon the three or four words visible on the half-line.

Below are two stories--spelling, grammar, and continuity problems transliterated--from class today, plus several more-or-less legible scans.


There once was a cow who's name
was gilbert.  Gilbert lived on Old mac-
donald's farm, but Gilbert had a
problem couldn't produce milk,
so...  I went to say hi to my friend
cause he was texting me when I didn't want
him to cause it was juring class and I didnt
know what to do he got my phone taken
away...  into nothing ness ....  dust.
So he screamed.  loudly enough that the
E.T. could hear.  So he came in his ship
to the planet Smog, very loudly, scaring
everyone inside the chapel.  he quickly ran
away as the preache got everyone
to go grab torches and pitch forks.
he ran into the wood lik red riding hood was
in. tether ball! cried Bannannafred!  "let's go to the
Ball Cinderella! and he said no way hose, shut up
Bridger, go & go go go go go
& he said What are we doing now
he asked Why does love seem so hard to maintain.  He
thought my life with Courtney is over.  Amanda was a
liar she took my heart and threwup tossed it into
the trash.  I'm so afraid that if I break up with
the taco.  I won't ever be able to love again:
And love is the greatest thing in the world.
But wait.  He saw it.  A yogurt bliss I cecrea m
     The moral of this story love goes on and

Once upon a time ago, bucky
the duck had a friend Cooky the
crow.  Bucky the duck was not
an ordinary Puck.  He came from a family of pigs.
Well he is a pig but he thinks hes a Puck so
thats why his nickname is Mother's
pantyhos!  He always tried to get rid of
it by acting like his father, but
whenever he tried
to breathe all he could inhale was
blood, ewwww ! so he choked to death
on his own blood! it had
green stuff in it and he thought
it was spinach from earlier
that day.  He was so
fat that people came with an
ambulance & had to carry him out
on a helicopter.  they were riding
on the helicopter for everl and they
never got off.  adventualy the heico Pter
started to run away.  But the unicorns
came and attacked everyone and took them
away.  But then the animal woke up and
it was just a horrible nightmare.
     THE END


(Click the stories to enlarge.)


  1. i remember doing these! love it love it love it.

  2. These are 7 of about 35. It was a lot of fun. And amazingly telling of 7th graders in general.

  3. I love the story with the moral. I was like, "Of course!" (slapping myself on forehead)


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