Monday, May 9, 2016

Slicing Up Your Story: Story Board

Children Eating a Pie
Bartolome Esteban Murillo, 1670-1675
I like to use a variety of both written and interactive tools to help my students learn the art of Oral Tradition, telling stories! There are already several wonderful books with useful ideas, however, because many of my students return year after year, I always want to have something new and fresh for them to try.

While I use the traditional story board to help students break down their tales, and also created, What's Driving Your Story? (Available in my book, Story by Story), this year I designed another type of story board, Slicing Up Your Story. I use this towards the end of the program, long after they completed their initial story boards and were very familiar with their stories. I wanted to see if anything new bubbled to the surface and also how succinctly they could now describe different elements of their story, i.e. setting, character, events, etc. Below is the handout I used along with some of the answers the students shared.

Please feel free to use this in your own personal work; however I do request that you respect copyright, offer attribution, and do not publish it in any form without my permission. Note: You may share the link to this blog post with your colleagues.


Before I pass out the worksheet I go over the instructions with the students, using Little Red Riding Hood as an example.

1.      Who is the main character in your story? (Red Riding Hood)
2.      Describe one character in two words. (petite, brave)
3.      Describe the story setting in three words. (dark, damp, ominous)
4.      Describe the main event/problem in four words. ( Girl meets dangerous wolf)
5.      Describe something in your story using ONLY ONE of your five senses. Describe the wolf using the sense of touch: hairy, dry, coarse, solid, muscular) Note: Be careful to clearly explain that you are looking for descriptive words.
6.      Describe the ending of your story in six words. (Woodsman rescues girl and grandmother.) *Of course this might be different if you are using another variant of the story. 


#2. Describe the main character in two words.
  • Tiny/Forgetful
  • Cross/Selfish
  • Prankster/Beggar
  • Greedy/Thoughtless

#3. Describe the story setting in three words.
  • Sweet/Warm/Stone
  • Pretty/Colorful/Fragrant
  • Cold/Winter/Damp 
  • Green/Glistening/Well
#4. Describe the main event/problem in four words.
  • Sister, spell, fairy, curse
  • Monkey loses his tail.
  • Cat wants delicious cake.
  • Girl won’t share bread.
  • Tom wants leprechaun's gold.
#5. Describe something in your story using only one of your five senses.
  • Taste: Frosting: vanilla, sugary, delicious, rich
  • Sight: Cloud: high, white, fluffy, drifting
  • Taste: Bread: sweet, warm, buttery
  • Touch: Bucket: cold, smooth, shiny
  • Smell: Farm: animals, manure, flowers, fresh air
 #6. Describe the ending of your story in six words.
  • Tries to chase his baby donkey.
  • Sadly Tom doesn’t get the gold.
  • Nasty sister turns into an owl.
  • Be careful what you wish for.
  • Happy monkey gets his tail back.
Extra Bonus: Leave a comment on the blog and I will send you the actual worksheet in a .doc file so you won't have to make one up yourself. (I am not above bribery :)

If you are interested in more innovative storytelling tools and games, you will find them in my award-winning book, Story by Story: Creating a Student Storytelling Troupe.I hope you will have the opportunity to try this out with your students or even when you are learning a new story. If you do, please let me know, I would love to hear how it turned out for you.

Please note, websites change at a rapid pace and web links may change or break without notice. I cannot be responsible for redirected or broken links.  At the time of this posting all links were in working order. Thank you for understanding.

Karen Chace 2016 ©
This blog post was researched and compiled by Karen Chace. Permission for private use is granted. Distribution, either electronically or on paper is prohibited without my expressed written permission. For permission please contact me at Of course, if you


Tony Toledo said...

Karen, this is great tool to help students really understand their story. You are a genius with story aids and at drawing stories out of kids. I can see why when you create something as good as this Story Slice. Tks. Tony Toledo

Anonymous said...

Are you baking pie or eating pizza? Or am I hungry?

Unknown said...

I think the slice up idea will help students remember the story so they can tell it effectively. Using active verbs and strong modifiers often challenges students of all ages. Resources like this one could help learners understand the concepts and then apply them. I think you explain things very clearly, which also helps students master ideas. Thank you for sharing your work, Karen. Take care, Paulette

Unknown said...

Hi, Karen. I am trying to comment, but my message keeps vanishing. I will try once more. The slicing up technique reinforces the main points of the story, which should help tellers remember the plot while also using sensory details. Students often struggle with understanding how to select action verbs and sensory images, and so this exercise will help them do those things. Once they grasp the structure of the story, they can bring it to life in their own unique way. You explain things simply and clearly so that learners can master the concepts easily.

Karen Chace said...

Dear Tony, Yvonne and Paulette,

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and respond. Your kind comments are greatly appreciated. The worksheet is on the way! I hope you find it useful.


bonitax said...

Awesome tool !

Muriel storyteller said...

And I'm not above bribing! This is a really interesting way to go deeper. I'm working with a group of 3rd graders collecting family stories. I'm curious about whether this will help these students. I suspect it will help them use more description and think more about the characters even if the main character is Mom or grandma. As always, than you for your amazing work and generosity.

Karen Chace said...

Hi Muriel,

Your are so kind. I have sent the form to your email; it will definitely work with your third grade students and their family stories.

Warm wishes,

Karen Chace said...

Hi Bonitax,

Thank you for taking the time to read the blog and comment. I can't find your email information; please email me at and I will be happy to send you the worksheet.


Laura Gronberg said...

Thank you for sharing this simple tool to explore the essence and heart of the stories we tell. As a new teller, I find these visual tools a great aid, sometimes more helpful than the many books on my bookshelf!


Unknown said...

Hi Karen, I love your worksheet and special instructions. For me, I hope to use it to speed up the creative process and to focus on meaningful distinctions within the story. Thank you for creating such a cool and generous tool.

Unknown said...

Consider me bribed, Karen! I am a total convert to your creative style after enjoying your fabulous workshop at the conference in March and purchasing your great book. Thank you for your generous sharing!

Karen Chace said...

Hi Laura, Shawn and Hope,

Thank you for your wonderful comments. It really is delightful to know that the worksheet will be of use to you all in your work. Hope, I sent the worksheet to your email. Laura and Shawn, I don't have your contact information; please email me at so I may also mail the worksheet to you.

Thank you again for letting me know that I am not 'shouting in the wind.' :)


Harvey Heilbrun said...

I really like the design of this worksheet. It really helps you become part of the story. When would you use this sheet? What aged group?

Karen Chace said...

Hi Harvey,

I created this worksheet this year and used it towards the end of our storytelling program; the classes ran for 13 weeks. I was working with students in grades 4 and 5 but I would certainly use it with any age group.

I presented a workshop, Story Play, at this year's 2016 Sharing the Fire Conference and this was one of the tools I used with the professionals storytellers; they found it to be very effective.

Thank you for stopping by. The worksheet is on its way to you.


Sue Black said...

another great idea!!
thanks for sharing

Karen Chace said...

Hi Sue,

A huge compliment coming from my oh so creative colleague! It is always wonderful to hear your voice! The worksheet is on the way.