Chain Stories


Chain-story is a story that is collectively written by a group of authors. The story is passed along from student to student, each adding a paragraph with the rule that each part should be coherent and follow the plotline of preceding sections. eNotes





Chain Stories in Class

  1. Divide the class in groups of 6-7 students, and seat them circles.
  2. Dictate the first sentence, and ask students to continue writing the story by using the target language you have given them (i.e. some of the target vocabulary or a grammar item they have just learned).
  3. Tell them they have five minutes to continue the story.
  4. When the time is over, tell students to pass their stories to the person sitting on their right.
  5. This time they have to read what their peer has written, and then continue the story.
  6.  Repeat the steps until students have created a one-page story.
  7. As a final step, discuss which story is the best and give the winners a prize.

Variation 1: Using an Object

Follow the same steps as above. Instead of dictating a sentence, this time you could ask each member of the groups to pick out one object from their bag. Then have students (in groups) create a story using the object(s) chosen.

Variation 2: Using Wikispaces

  1. First, create a page at Wikispaces which is a free online wiki hosting. It has great features such as ..  It is a fantastic tool that also promotes sharing and building information collaboratively. Please have a look at one of the award-winning educational wikis on Wikispaces created by Arjana Blazic, which can give you a greater idea on how to effectively use a wiki with your class.
  2. So once you have created a wiki on Wikispaces, follow the same steps as above.
  3. Give each student a role and assign each of them with a target language (i.e. a grammar structure, or vocabulary).

As this will require some thinking time, assigning a group assignment on Wikispaces will allow students to use their time more freely and effectively.

Variaiton3: Online Chain stories

If you teach young learners, you may ask students to use online ChainStory instead.

Variaiton 4: 15 Words Rule Chin-Story

  1. First, seat students in a big circle.
  2. Choose a title of the story with your class.
  3. Ask one student to begin the story. Tell students that they have to use minimum 15 words to tell the story.
  4. The next person picks up the story thread and continues it, and so on until the story comes to a resolution. Instead of doing this with the whole class, students could do the same within smaller groups and record it and post it to your class Wikispace. You can also see a sample here.

Variation 5: Text Messaging

  1. Start by text messaging the first part of an if-clause, for example, ‘If I were rich…’ to one of your students.
  2. That student then has to complete the sentence ( If I were rich, I would buy a jet plane),and forward the text message to another student in class. That student then has to use the second part as the first clause and complete it (If I had a jet plane, I would…), and so on.

Also see:



6 thoughts on “Chain Stories

  1. Dear Nesrin,

    Thank you for sharing another great activity. I am sure that will add some colour in my Writing lessons. I will soon try some of them with my students.


    Merve OFLAZ

    1. Thanks for your besutiful comment Merve. I hope your Ss will like them too. Please let me know how it goes with your Ss. Hugs

  2. Some good ideas here. I’ve tried chain stories before but not using technology like mobiles and texting.

    Can see some other ideas on here too so will def take a look around 😉

    1. Hi David,
      Thanks for your comment. Chain stories are good in that it allows Ss to read with a purpose and interact with the texts. As for the text messaging idea, I would suggest you try it out and see how it goes with your Ss. They love using their phones anyway, so this time we could ask them to use for a language purpose with some element of fun in it:)) Please, let me know how it goes with your Ss if you ever think of using it.

  3. This is a great activity and I have used it before. The only problem is what to do when some students don’t take it seriously and they send messages that are not in the target language? That’s when I choose cooperative learning, where I divide my classes in groups and one leader is responsible for the participation + discipline. If one makes a mistake (does not participate or does not take the activity seriously) the entire group will be affected. That way, everybody is implicated in every single activity and is responsible for their own groups.

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