Three Chairs, A Drama Activity for Language Classes


I’ll share a quick drama activity I learned from our drama club while performing at an event at school.

  • Put 3 chairs in front of the board.
  • Put labels on the chairs as “sad-1”, “happy-2″,”angry-3”
  • Write some situations on slips of papers and put them in a box. (You are waiting at the bus stop and the bus is late / You are going to take an important exam /You are travelling to …
  • Let students choose a slip of paper
  • Give them a few minutes to prepare a very short story based on the situation they have on their papers.

Begin with the volunteers. Explain the rules.

Tell students that you will shout a number from 1 to 3 and she/he will sit on that chair and start telling the story according to the emotion written on the chair. While the student is telling the story change the numbers randomly.

This activity will be suitable for intermediate and above but I think it can also be tried with beginners as a reading aloud activity. The teacher can give a text to practise reading aloud and then asks the students to read the text sadly, angrily, cheerfully, etc


Guided Collaborative Story Writing

Image source:
Image source:


Find a photo story, pictures that can be used as sequences or some pictures that can form a story. Make enough copies for your students.

Put students in groups.

Give each group the 1st picture

Tell them to brainstorm anything that comes into their minds first and then tell them to organize their thoughts in sentences as the first part of their story. Don’t forget to mention before that they will write a story collaboratively and they will use past tenses. You may also want to suggest some linking words that they can use to organize their paragraphs.

Tell them to pass their paper to the other groups clockwise and give them the 2nd picture of the story and tell them to continue writing their 2nd paragraph.

Continue the process until the pictures you have all distributed.

Ask students to exchange papers once more to edit. Tell them to read the stories carefully and make necessary changes or corrections.

Ask them to read the stories aloud. Put them on the walls. They can read all the stories in groups and choose the best one. You can collect all the stories on youblisher or issuu, you can ask them to create a glogster, using the pictures and adding the paragraphs or PowerPoint Presentations recording their voices or they can upload their presentation on brainshark and record their story.

Last minute preparations for #sswebcon

YOU are a story absorber and a story teller  Andrew Wright

At the moment, I’m working on the bios of the presenters, moderator roles, taking some notes, etc…

Howevere, as usual, I have things around me to distract my attention. I came across with the article written by Andrew Wright and then I just came here to remind you about the conference once more

If you haven’t registered yet, you can do it via

The conference will take two days Feb, 9th and 10th

There are four rooms for the sessions:

  • Dickens, the main venue
  • Shakespeare, Tolkien and Orhan Pamuk are for concurrent sessions

If you there aren’t enough rooms in the Adobe Connect, you can join the livestream on Facebook

Follow @trBritish on twitter and our conference hashtag is #sswebcon


An Unprepared Storytelling Session

I’m so much exhausted these days. There are many thing at school that we have to do. Our Comenius partners visit us next week. Actually it is very exciting to plan everything. We have to deal with arrivals, presentations, meetings, day tips, etc. We are even planning a Europe Day celebration on May 9th. I’m sure it wil be a great event. I will tell about it later.

Well, as I’m so much involved with these things, I can’t spend enough time for planning my lessons. Anyways, I had a lesson with grade 6 today and had no preparation and to be honest, I was very relieved. Even at the door I was thinking whether it would be a good idea to play a word game with them.

When we greeted each other, I suddenly decided to do a story-telling session.

First we brainstormed fairy tales. I wrore them on the board. They told me their favourite ones.

Wordle: little Red riding Hood

Then we chose ‘Little Red Riding Hood’

I told them to list nouns and adjectives that comes into their mind when they think about the story.

Then they listed the verbs in the story.

I wrote ‘Once Upon a Time’ on the board and told them I would tell them the story but they would help me when I stopped.

I started the story and they helped me when I stopped.

All the words were on the board and it helped them a lot.

They learned past simple tense, past continous tense, present simple and present continous also will and present perfect so it was very easy for them to help me tell the story.

When we finished, I told them to write it with their sentences and as we didn’t have enough time I told them to make their story an illustrated book for next week.

If I had planned ahead, I’d have gone to the class with pictures.

Maybe I would give pictures in jumbled order and ask them to put the story in correct order.

Or even I could have prepared slips of papers with sentences from the story and ask them to put the story in correct order.

However, at the end of the session I was very happy with the product. They were great!

Teachers as Storytellers



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”I actually think one of my strengths is my storytelling”.
Quentin Tarantino

Last week we talked about storytelling at ELTChat and Leahn summarised the chat on her blog. You can find many interesting ideas and links there.

While chatting I realised the chat is more focused on students’ telling or writing stories.I attended the winter warmer at British Council Istanbul and listened to Carol Read and Alec Williams and amazed how powerful their stories were and then I had another chance to listen to a great storyteller, Jan Blake, at Istek Elt. It didn’t stop there and luckily I attended Michael Berman’s IATEFL talk and I’m very much interested in telling stories in efl classrooms at the moment.


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I’m not a good storyteller. I invented stories for my kids but I must confess I was not a master but as they were ready to hear my stories, they used to listen to me attentively. Yet, listening to all these wonderful people I mentioned above, I decided to tell a story to my grade 5 students. I chose a story with a lot of repetition and rhymes. I found some drawings for the animals in the story, prepared a handout to pre-teach vocabulary then instructed some very easy tasks for while listening and after the story finished, we found other rhyming pairs together and they wrote their own stories.

Last week at BESL 2011, Prof. Sy-ying Lee suggested preparing power point for the images in the story. The alternatives to tell stories in the classroom are almost endless.

I usually find my students’ stories very dull and I’m sure you also complain from time to time that those stories lack imagination. Recently, I put some of the blame on teachers. Students cannot tell stories if they don’t hear stories. I’m sure there are wonderful teachers telling stories in their classrooms but I’m pretty sure that there are others who are mainly concerned with the curriculum. Teaching is role-modelling. If we do something with great enthusiasm, our students will also follow us. I go back to the 1st plenary of Istek Elt and remember Jan Blake, she just led us to the amazing world of stories.

What kind of stories we can tell in the class?

  1. Real stories, our stories to make them realise that they also have stories to tell.
  2. Stories with a lot of repetitions and rhymes to teach certain grammar point or vocabulary.
  3. Fairy tales, cultural tales to encourage critical thinking and discussion.


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Some useful links for storytelling

Alec Williams in Istanbul
Jan Blake at Istek Elt and more Jan Blake on youtube.
The magic of story time
 Story telling for preschoolers, guidelines and how-to tell a story
While writing this post I came across with this wonderful post, Fairy tales continued on  The Hedghog Blog.
‘Stories in Language Teaching’
And don’t forget to bookmark Leahn’s wonderful summary with lots of ideas and links for the production stage.