LIFE IS A STORY – May Activity Ideas

Everyone has a story to tell. Whether your members’ stories include fairy tale endings or read more like a fable, sharing our life stories allows us to connect with one another. Encourage your members to share their stories as we celebrate National Share A Story Month during the month of May. Use the activity ideas below to prompt discussion, conversation, and reminiscence.

NAME THE FAIRY TALE – Make a list of popular fairy tales and challenge participants to name the fairy tale in as few clues as possible. Start with harder clues, then work towards easier clues until participants guess the fairy tale correctly. Example: For Cinderella, say, “This character had an evil step-mother and step-sisters; she was visited by her fairy godmother; she quickly left the ball and lost a glass slipper.” (See “Life Is a Story Trivia” below for more fairy tale examples.)

STORY TIME REMINISCENCE – Recalling pastime memories is a wonderful way for members to share their life stories with one another. Reminisce with your group about their childhood memories, favorite vacations, a typical day when they were raising their family, and major life events such as weddings, the birth of their children, or purchasing a home.

SHORT STORY WRITING WORKSHOP – Promote creativity and possibly a new hobby with your group this month by hosting a short story writing workshop. Give participants lined paper and pens or pencils, or they may choose to type on a personal laptop. Then, head over to Jenny Bravo Books for an assortment of writing prompts. You can either choose a few prompts to share with your group, or print the entire list and let participants select their own prompt. Afterwards, encourage participants to read their stories aloud to the group. If writing is too difficult for your group, do this as a large group activity. Select a prompt and then encourage participants to add a sentence to the story.

SIP & SHARE MOMENTS WITH MOM – Give families the opportunity to connect with their aging mother with a twist on the Southern tradition of a “Sip and See.” Invite families to dig out their old baby books or family albums to bring to the event. During the event, families can browse their baby books or photo albums with mom, and reminisce with mom about their childhood. Serve sparkling lemonade, small sandwiches, and cookies. A perfect Mother’s Day activity!

TALK WITH THE LIBRARIAN – Invite your local librarian to share information with your group about the library. Libraries are much more than books, and often have valuable resources that are free to local patrons. Many libraries offer various computer classes, craft classes, free passes to museums, e-Books and e-Readers, and even family ancestry researching. Consider taking your group to the library for a private tour.

STORYTELLING THROUGH CLASSICAL MUSIC – Have you ever noticed that sometimes music sounds like it’s telling us a story? Explain to your group that you’re going to listen to a piece of classical music and then share the story that the piece is telling us. Listen to the piece one time through and enjoy the music. Afterwards, prompt discussion with phrases like, “When I listen to this piece, it makes me think of…; this part of the music sounds like…; the slower section reminds me of…; as I listen, I can picture….” To get started, try Sabre Dance by Khachaturian. Other storytelling classical pieces include Waltz of the Flowers by Tchaikovsky, The Flight of the Bumblebee by Rimsky-Korsakov, and Peter and the Wolf by Prokofiev.

DIGITAL BOOKS – For more tech-savvy communities, invite your group to create a digital story book that they can print. There are many digital book websites that are user-friendly and can guide participants along the way, from creating a children’s book that they can give to their grandchildren to sharing the story of how they met their spouse. One you can look at is Book Creator.)

LAUNCH A BOOK CLUB – If you don’t already have a regular book club at your community, use this month to begin one. At the start of the month, announce this month’s book. Your local library can help you pick a great book to get your group started and may be able to provide multiple copies of the book for participants. At the end of the month, plan a book club discussion where participants share their thoughts and opinions about the book. Then, pick a new book for next month. If you have group members who can’t read themselves, you can read the book aloud and then discuss as you read it.

SHOW & TELL – Invite participants to tell their stories through sharing a meaningful object with the group. Participants will need to bring the object with them to the activity, so be sure to advertise accordingly. This activity might also bring back memories of early elementary school where “Show and Tell” was a popular activity.

ROLL-A-STORY – You’ll need one die and a little preparation and creativity for this fun activity. Prior to the activity, draw a four (horizontal) by six (vertical) grid on a large white board or large piece of paper. Label each row numerically, one through six.  Across the four columns, label as follows: “character,” “setting/place,”  “problem,”  and “solution.” Work together as a group to fill in the chart with various characters, settings, problems and solutions. This is supposed to be at random, so don’t worry about solving the actual problem. Then, as a group, take turns rolling the die to pick a character, setting, problem, and solution. On another white board or piece of large paper, write out the story and read it aloud after each round.

STORY BAGS – Head to your local arts and crafts store and purchase a variety of foam, felt, or wooden characters and objects, such as a prince, princess, frog, castle, trees, animals, treasure chest, boat, etc. Then, place the objects in a bag or hat. Gather participants and begin with, “Once upon a time…” Then blindly draw a piece from the bag or hat and start to tell the story. Each participant draws one piece and adds to the story. Once everyone has had a turn, or you run out of pieces, return all the pieces to the bag and start again. Start with a different person each round.

VINTAGE BOOK WREATH – Pull out older, gently used books that have been donated and turn them into a beautiful vintage book wreath. You’ll need cardboard, glue, scissors, ribbon, and plenty of pages from a vintage book. Cut out a circle from the cardboard, about eight to twelve inches in diameter. Then, tear out pages from the vintage books. Roll each page into a cone-shape and secure with glue. Continue until there are enough cones to glue around the cardboard circle. The point of the cone should be placed towards the center of the circle. Keep it simple with one row of cones, or embellish by adding layers of cones on top of the first layer you just glued. Once complete, poke a small hole in the back of the wreath and tie a piece of ribbon so that participants can proudly display their creations on their doors. (Click here for a description – with pictures – of how someone else has made this wreath.)


Can you name the fairy tale based on the three-phrase clues?

  1. Magical beans; hen that lays golden eggs; “Fee-fi-fo-fum.” Jack and the Beanstalk
  2. Evil step-mother; poisoned apple; “Heigh-ho.” Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  3. A beautiful book-loving young woman; a very ugly creature; an enchanted castle. Beauty and the Beast
  4. A blonde girl; porridge; a chair that is “just right.” Goldilocks and the Three Bears
  5. Big bad wolf; grandma’s house; scarlet cloak. Little Red Riding Hood
  6. Big bad wolf; straw-wood-brick homes; “I’ll huff and I’ll puff.” The Three Little Pigs
  7. Prick of the finger; a deep sleep; a kiss from a prince. Sleeping Beauty
  8. A trail of crumbs; a cottage made of candy; an evil witch. Hansel and Gretel
  9. A tall stack of mattresses; a night of restless sleep; a tiny green vegetable. The Princess and the Pea
  10. Straw spun into gold; a baby; a mysterious name. Rumpelstiltskin



“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”  ~ Maya Angelou


“Life Is a Story” was written by Erin McCart. Copyright 2018 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.

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