Progressive stories have been around as long as men, women, and children have been able to talk. Imagine an ancient tribe of people sharing experiences at the end of a long day of fishing, each person’s catch growing bigger, each account of an individual’s struggle to catch that fish growing more dramatic, one story building on the other around the campfire as stars erupt in the night sky. Imagine an eye witness sharing the details of an animal attack of his or her friend, and that story expanding, becoming more exaggerated as it is spread throughout the village. Imagine the neighborhood gossips cackling over the long line of suitors courting the rich widow in town, the intimate details growing in inverse proportion to the actual knowledge of the gossips.
A progressive story is a group activity. One person begins the story and it is taken up and/or added to by the next person in the group. This most simple version can be played in an oral story tradition or, as in the NCBLA’s progressive story game The Exquisite Corpse Adventure, it can take a written form.
Encouraging young people to participate in the telling of a progressive story not only passes the time on an arduous family road trip, but also provides an engaging and FUN classroom activity.
Click on a title to learn more about all types of progressive stories and how to create them.