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One Word Story Game

This activity was submitted by Melvin Huffnagle from Hostos Community College (CUNY).

Notes from the Contributor: I come from a theatre background and like to employ theatre games to compliment my lectures. One game in particular that my students really enjoy is called one word story. It's a great game because it forces the players to really listen to each other. It also gets them out of their seats and speaking in front of the class. The textbook we use includes a chapter titled "Effective Listening" this game is great to use after this chapter. This is a great game to demonstrate how we listen as well as a great ice breaker. It's one of my favorites!

Instructions: The game goes as follows:

  1. Invite 8 to 10 students to stand in a line in front of the classroom.

  2. Pick a topic i.e Christmas, Summer, School etc...

  3. Have the first person begin with one word to begin the story with the person next to them adding another word and so on down the line.

  4. With all of the words together the players must make a complete sentence that makes sense. Make sure student add " period", "question mark" or whatever to end a thought.

  5. Students may not repeat the same word in the same sentence or else they will be eliminated.

  6. If a student says a word that does not fit within the story they are eliminated. Or if a player takes to long to respond, they too will are eliminated. Words should flow together. If everyone is listening it will make sense to them and the audience watching.

  7. Students must not speak until it is there turn in the line order to add something. If they over anticipate the word they will be eliminated.

  8. As the line becomes smaller the pace of the words to the story should pick up.


Melvin Huffnagle is an adjunct assistant professor at Hostos Community College where he teaches Public Speaking. Melvin hails from strong a theatre background and is a working actor in New York. You may have caught him on television or off broadway. He holds an MFA from the University of Florida.

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