Making Stories

Here are some story-making activities to enjoy with family and friends.

Making up stories lets our creative side shine through! Whether you like inventing stories with others out loud or enjoying some quiet-time putting pen to paper, we hope that some of these activities are the right fit just for you.

Feathered tales

Birds are found in lots of stories and legends. They're a great starting point for a story because they can travel far away and see things from a different viewpoint to us – they have a bird's eye view on things!

Hide yourself somewhere – either by a window overlooking a garden or outside. Try to stay still and wait – what birds can you see and hear? Let these feathered friends inspire some stories.

• What would a day in the life of a sparrow look like? Write a diary entry!

• Create a play script for two birds having a conversation! Would they talk about what they had seen that day, flying across your neighbourhood? What could they argue about? What gossip may they have heard?

• Birds live a life of danger. Write an action scene about a chase or some other peril. Begin with one or two sentences of calm, then hint at a threat – perhaps just a sound or feeling. Make your bird character react to this (fluttering nervously?). Then you can let things go crazy: add a few quickfire sentences of the action – short snappy sentences are good for speed – and finish on a cliffhanger!

You can always illustrate your creations afterwards.

A treasure hunt story

A large amount of gold was said to be hidden somewhere around Loch Arkaig in the 1700s by Jacobites - followers of Bonnie Prince Charlie who was trying to be made king. Some of that treasure was never found.

Set up a treasure hunt story around your home or favourite green space. Begin by drawing a map showing where the first clue note can be found. In each note you write, hint at the place where the next one will be - until you hide a treasure at the end. The clues are fun to write – don’t make it too obvious, but not too tricky either.

Can you build your story as you write each clue? Who are the main characters we are following - the real people finding your clues, or a made-up person or animal? What happened to the character(s) in each location?

'Half and half' story-building game

Another story-making game is 'half and half' - each person gets to finish the sentence of the person before them and then start another sentence off.

The person who starts the game says "There once was a...", finishes that sentence and starts another before the next person takes over.

Here's an example:

Person taking first turn: "There once was a lonely dragon who had no friends. She lived in..."

Next person: "...a castle surrounded by a deep forest. One day a..."

Next person: "...mouse who lived in the forest heard the dragon singing a sad song. He wished that..."

Next person: "...he had a voice as sweet as the dragon's. Especially as..."

Next person: " was the forest talent show in a week's time and he'd always wanted to perform in it. He decided to..."

Can you finish the story? What other stories can you make together by finishing the last person's sentence and starting off another?

Inventing stories together

Sometimes the simplest stories are the most fun to make in a group.

You can take turns imagining objects (things) using the same opening line - something like "I opened a treasure chest, and in it I found...". Each person takes it in turn to say this opening line, lists all the things other people have said and then adds their own. You can keep going until you've had enough or it's too difficult to remember all the objects people have said!

Stories often have a setting, one or more characters, and a problem to solve. You can come up with ideas for all of these using the same game with different opening lines to help invent settings, characters and problems. Once you've had enough of each round you can chat with your group and pick the one you want to keep before you go onto the next round.

Here are some opening line suggestions:

Inventing settings together

"I had a weird dream, where I was [in/at/on/under...]"

You could always add in a describing word (in a calm meadow, at a spooky castle, on top of a cold mountain, under a rickety bridge) - either straight away or by creating another round.

Inventing characters together

Human, animal or mythical!

"In my dream I met a..."

You could always add in an emotion ('a sad jester, a thrill-seeking princess, a lonely dragon, an angry king') - either straight away or by creating another round.

Inventing objects together

"They found something unexpected, a..."

You could always add in magic power for this object (a cup that never emptied, a candle that wouldn't light, a carpet that could fly, a pen that wrote only poetry) - either straight away or by creating another round.

Inventing situations/problems together

"But everything was about to change, because..."

Is there a problem your character needs to overcome? What challenge are they facing?

Ta da!

Now that you've got a setting, a character, an object and a situation, see if you can weave them into a story together. You can swap any of them if one of the other suggestions would work better!

Have fun creating stories! If you share your story-making fun online, please tag #LearningWithHES so that we can see how you get on.

Many of these words and ideas are from the author Barbara Henderson, who has written seven books for young people. Lots of her novels draw on stories of Scotland's past for inspiration.