5 phrase story

It’s been awhile since a blog post, and I’ve been keeping busy by attending various conferences and writing new stories for class as well as finally finishing stamp designs for all 21 Spanish Speaking Countries.

I wanted to share a really quick activity that I learned from a session by Carol Caab (of TRPS Publishing) at the first ever Comprehensible Midwest Conference in Milwaukee, WI in late September.

In this activity, the teacher provides 5 phrases in the target language. The key is to make sure that the phrases are vague enough that they leave open some sort of interpretation. Write them up on the board as A, B, C, D, E.

For example, I started with these 5 phrases:
A) Busca
B) Tiene un perro
C) Va al Pet Shelter
D) Ve un gato
E) Quiere

Granted 2 of mine are just verbs and not a complete phrase, (but this was my first time doing this type of activity, on the Monday after the conference). Ideally, they would be a bit more phrasal.

Hand out 5 cards to students with one of these letters written on them and have those 5 students come up to the class and act out whatever that phrase is. As they students are acting out the phrases, you want to try to get as many reps of the phrases as you can. So you can ask questions to the actor and the class. The trick is to try to critique the student in a playful way that allows you to get them to do the action again and again.

Have the class try to guess what letter the student is acting out.

Then have the class pair up and try to put the sentences in a logical order. The idea is that the sentences are so vague that there really isn’t an exact answer; they could be multiple ways to order them. It is up to the students to make sure it is logical. Then ask the class for which order to put them in. As you are asking groups what is first and which is second, you are getting in additional reps of the structures. Once it is established that the class is not at a consensus for which is 1st,2nd,3rd, have the students go back to their partners and try again so that the class can come to a consensus.

I put each phrase in a text box on a powerpoint so I can move the phrases around on the screen as the class tells me which one is first, second, third.


I then had students write a brief story using these 5 phrases to show us what they think happens in the story (and thus which order they are in). For example, Using the 5 phrases from above a student might say that they story is as follows:


This is a fun activity that allows for discussion and sneaks in a bunch of reps of the targeted structures. It’s one that I am keeping in the teacher toolbox and hope to get better at as I use it more and more.

About SpanishPlans

Spanish Educator, with focus on acquisition Educator Enthusiast I love learning about and sharing culture.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to 5 phrase story

  1. Tree Yorque says:

    I used this activity today instead of “storyasking” like I tend to do. I loved that it put the students in charge but in a more focused way (my classes can get rowdy when we storyask). I might even have them add in more details tomorrow. Thank you for sharing!

Share your ideas!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.