Friday, April 14, 2017

Sensory Swish: An Interactive Storytelling Game

Last week I made my annual run for Easter basket goodies and found some delightfully different ‘baskets,’ pictured below, at my local Dollar Tree.  Rather than the traditional woven straw they were made to look like basketballs and I began to wonder, “How could I use these with my storytelling students?” 

Although my Storytelling Troupe classes have ended for the year, my colleague Andrea Lovett and I are currently working with students on an intergenerational project.  While we have many resources at our disposal we are always eager to add new games/movement to our classes.  I placed the baskets in my cart and continued walking through the store, and lo and behold, I found small, rubber basketballs. Now I knew this was too much of a coincidence and the Sensory Swish game was born!
 * Swish: A shot that goes through the basket without touching the backboard or rim.

Items Needed
  • 5 Basketball ‘baskets’
  • 10 small rubber basketballs (10 so you will have additional balls to hand the children if they miss.)

Easy Prep
  • Cut off the basket straps so they will not be in the way when throwing the ball.
  • Type up the five senses on the computer in large letters: Taste, Touch, See, Smell, Hear
  • Paste one each on front of the baskets. Cover with clear postal tape to secure.

  • Place five chairs in a straight row across.
  • Place one basket on each chair.
  • Place something heavy inside so they will not fall over when the ball is thrown.
  • Students take turns throwing the ball at the basket of their choice.
  • They have three turns at the throw line. If they miss they take one step closer.
  • When the ball lands in one basket (it might not be one they were aiming for) they choose any part of their story and share one or two sentences describing something in the story using that ‘sense.’

Example: One student yesterday chose ‘smell’ and made the basket. She shared, “When I walked downstairs in the morning I could smell the delicious, crisp bacon sizzling on the stove.”

The students really enjoyed the game and cheered each other on. It was particularly fun because two of the girls actually completed the ‘swish’ on the first try while the boys did not, resulting in lots of laughter and good natured ribbing.

This game is a keeper and I actually purchased an additional set of ‘baskets.’ In the next school year when I begin working with a larger storytelling troupe I will turn this into a team relay game.


  • There will be two sections of senses, one for each team.
  • Students will line up in two teams.
  • When the first makes the basket they will share a sentence from their story, run back and tag the next team member.
  • Repeat until everyone on one team has completed the activity.
  • First team to finish is the winning team.

* Note: I plan to have 10 additional small basketballs for a total of 20 when using this in the relay form of the game. This will make it easier to keep the game moving along.

I can also see this game being used in other ways, labeling the baskets differently. You can even use the same baskets, just tape new labels on the opposite side. Some suggestions:

  • Exaggerated Gesture
  • Small Gesture
  • Character Description
  • Dialogue
  • Facial Expression
  • First Sentence
  • Last Sentence
  • Etc.

This is a very easy game to set up and play. I offer it here for you to use in your personal storytelling work. It is not to be published in any form without permission although you may share the blog link with your colleagues. I ask that you respect copyright and offer attribution whenever you use it.

Here is another interactive game I created last year using the favorite American pastime, baseball! 
Step Up to the Plate: An Interactive Storytelling Game

I would love to know what you think of this game, and if you use it, tell me how it worked out for you!

If you are interested in more original, interactive games, as well as story worksheets, please consider my award-winning book, Story by Story: Creating a Student Storytelling Troupe. I am also offering a workshop, Story Play, based on my book, at the Rocky Mountain Storytelling Conference in Colorado next week and at the National Storytelling Conference in Kansas City, Missouri in June. You will learn additional activities not found in my book, to help both you and your students.

If you would like to learn a bit more about the workshop head over to my NSN blog piece at .

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 2017 ©
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 wish to link to my blog via your website, blog, newsletter, Facebook page or Twitter please feel free to do so; I greatly appreciate your support and personal integrity.