Storytelling: Chill Out

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Language Arts, Oral Language, Listening, Speaking

Grade 5- 8


Students practice the art of storytelling.



The art of storytelling has been around almost as long as humans have. Stories have been passed down as family treasures to be taken out, enjoyed, wrapped in memories, and carefully tucked away to be cherished by yet another generation. The stories of how our families came to settle where they did; how they survived hard times; how our parents, grandparents, and aunts and uncles met and married have become the keynote speeches of the family dinners.
The ability to relate a story well is a skill that will enrich everyone's lives and create emotional ties between new generations of our families and friends. These are the stories most requested by separated or adopted children. The stories provide us with a sense of belonging and a secure place in the world.

Stories are priceless gifts that should not be lost with the passing of our family members but should be filed away to be discovered and treasured by future generations. The struggles our families faced to settle a new world and our victories over those struggles provide our strength to overcome future struggles that we--or our children--might face.

We are all survivors of the perils of the ages and have in our families stories of the Civil War, westward expansion, persecution, and the fabric that makes up the history of mankind. Develop and preserve these stories and the ability to relate them.

The activity that follows provides the format and opportunity to develop these storytelling skills. The stories may be organized by use of an organizer called the storyboard. The stories need not be written out but rather organized in topical format, or outline, and related to the group.

Storytelling: Chill Out

No storytelling unit would be complete without the tale of terror. The "gotcha'" stories are in this category also. A gotcha' story is one that sounds frightening and is filled with suspense. At the end the storyteller yells out and grabs someone close saying "Gotcha'!" These stories are often related in the dark, at camp outs, and at slumber parties. No doubt you have already heard many.
This is a story type that allows the storyteller to set the mood. The speaker may build suspense by using facial expressions or vocal inflections. A good storyteller can scare the daylights out of his or her listeners! The success of recent horror movies shows us that many of us love to be scared. Perhaps it is a way of confronting our fears and making us see how silly they really are. There are classic tales of terror that have been told for generations.

Assignment: Prepare and tell a tale of terror you have heard, or create an original. Use the storyboard organizer on page 100 to prepare your story and share it with the class. The following is a list of classic tales of terror that circulate today. These might help you select your own tale of terror.

  1. The Man with the Hook Arm
  2. The Hitchhiker
  3. A babysitter gets a call from a murderer who claims he is calling from inside the house.
  4. A girl is followed home by a man who keeps turning on his bright lights, only to discover he is trying to protect her from the person hiding in her back seat.
  5. The girl at the slumber party who goes to the grave to plunge in a letter opener to prove to others she is not afraid. She unknowingly plunges it into the hem of her nightgown. It pins her to the grave; and thinking she is being grabbed by the living dead, she dies of fright.
These are common stories, but you may have better tales of terror to tell!


  • Storytelling activity sheet
  • pencils

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