Why do I love using pass-along stories? It’s a very quiet activity (in the beginning) as each student concentrates on what to say next. There is a whole lot of writing going on and everyone enjoys it. There is laughter, enthusiasm, and fun! Finally, the subject matter, which in today’s case was Hernan Cortes and the Aztecs, is solidified in their minds!
What is a pass-along story? Each person pulls out their notebook and begins writing the first few sentences of a story. Today we added a little twist. We read from Richard Halliburton’s Book of Marvels, as well as letters from Mr. Cortes himself, to get a vision of what the Aztec civilization was like. Each student wrote down a collage of words to remind them of Cortes, Montezuma, Mexico, sun gods, salt water, sacrifice, etc. These words would later be strategically placed in their pass along stories so that the stories had some relevance to our history!
Each author gets a whopping 45 seconds (you can do more or less depending on the number of students you have and the time allotted) to complete their part of the story. When I say, “STOP!”, they pass their notebook to the next one in line – even if they are in the middle of a sentence. This person then reads the story written thus far and begins to add their own thoughts. In our case they were supposed to utilize words from their collage each time they wrote.
I heard lots of comments as the stories were passed along. Comments like, “What in the world?” “Who wrote that?” “How random!”
See for yourself – and then give it a try with your kids!