Story Starters

Playper's Story Starters are a great way to have fun while learning.

Kids can learn about narrative devices, story structure and character development, and more. We've gathered some educators to get their thoughts, ideas and opinions, and have combined them here in one place.If you would like to contribute any other ideas or success stories to this page, please email -- we'd love to hear from you!

Prompts for Younger Storytellers

Some kids will benefit from prompts when they get stuck, which can help get their creative juices flowing. Here are some ideas:
  • Start off using the familiar: "Once upon a time, there was a..." or simply asking, "Then what happened?" can help get a story unstuck.
  • Imagine what kind of day your story starts in... was it a hot, sunny day? Rainy? Is it a special day in some way?
  • Think about where a particular object came from... was it lying on the ground? Or was someone holding it? 
  • Ask if a character is a good guy, or a bad guy... and why. 
  • Suggest they can come up with fun names for their characters -- names can sometimes suggest a personality trait (i.e. Banana-Beard Bart or Snuffles the Dragon)
  • For some fun, suggest they add themselves, their best friend, or a sibling into the story. 
  • Start a story for them first, using the cards, then invite them to finish it and determine how it will end.
  • If they ever get stuck, you can also always have them draw another card.

Make It a Bit More Challenging!

  • Instead of 1 person, 1 place and 1 object, try take 2 or 3 cards from one or more of the stacks to make the story more complex.
  • Once the story is finished, ask if the child would like to change anything, and suggest they retell the story with that new twist.
  • Ask them to retell the story from the beginning, using the cards as an aid. Encourage additional details this time to expand on it!
  • Another fun variation: once a child finishes the story, have them swap one character for another and then tell the story again -- then see how a different character might change the outcome of the story.

Chain of Events

  • Take the whole deck, and shuffle the cards. 
  • Start your story in any way you like (maybe just say "Once upon a time...") 
  • Then grab the card at the top of the deck and try to work it in.
  • Continue telling your story, then at key points, grab another card and work it in.
  • Can you tell a story using ALL the cards in the deck?

Talk About Story Structure

  • For younger kids, simply point out how a story should have a beginning, a middle and an end.
  • Older kids can dig into more complex concepts, such as character development, story conflict, and resolution. You can use commonly known stories to help illustrate this; for example: the Three Little Pigs are introduced in the beginning, the Big Bad Wolf is the conflict in the middle, then at the end Practical Pig's actions provide the conflict resolution. Simple!
  • As they are telling the story and developing their plot, how can they use the object card to move the story along? Sometimes objects can be a clue (a footprint), a story device (a lost pet), or a cause of conflict (a valuable treasure chest).
  • Before the child starts the story, invite them to figure out what the conflict might be first. Does it involve one of the object cards, or maybe one of the characters does something they shouldn't have? 
  • For help with developing a story conflict during a story, you could suggest "What would be the worst thing that could happen right now?" or for an idea for resolution, ask "What would be the best thing that could happen right now?"

Talk About Emotions

  • After the story is finished, talk about whether the story was silly, or scary, or what emotions would they use to describe it? 
  • Have them take the cards and first tell a sad story... then using the same cards, see if they can tell a happy story!
  • Give a theme to the child beforehand, and invite them to tell a story using kindness, friendship, or bravery as a theme. This can be used to great effect around special days: Thanksgiving and gratitude, Christmas and giving, or Valentine's Day and love.

Family Game Night

Make a game out of it! Deal one set of cards to everyone in the family (maybe the adults get more cards to make it a bit harder!), and then each person makes up a story, telling it to the rest of the group in turns. At the end, the group needs to decide who had the best one!

Ways to Tell Your Story

Don't forget there are a lot of different ways to tell your story; you can:
  • Act it!
  • Sing it!
  • Tell it!
  • Draw it!
  • Record it!