Switch Story – Bay Area Discovery Museum

Switch Story

Weave together an original story using creativity and imagination. The Story Starter begins the tale, but this story has more than one author! When the leader calls “switch,” the person to the Story Starter’s right continues telling the story. This improvisational activity helps children build flexible thinking skills.

Materials Required

  • Ball or small stuffed animal (optional)
  • Wand or stick (optional)


  1. Sit in a circle and brainstorm a list of interesting titles for an original group story. Then pick one of the titles from the list for the first group story.
  2. Pick someone to be the Story Starter. This person will begin the story.
  3. Also select a leader who will call out “switch” when it is the next person’s turn to continue telling the story. The leader does not tell any of the story, but can call “switch” at any time!
  4. The Story Starter narrates the story until the leader calls “switch,” and then the person sitting to the Story Starter’s right begins to tell the tale.
  5. Continue the process until everyone has had a turn to contribute to the story. As time progresses, the leader should call “switch” more often, ensuring that everyone has the chance to put their own creative twist on the tale.

Additional Tips

Try these activity variations:

  • Use a ball (or stuffed animal) as the “story ball.” Instead of calling “switch,” the leader calls “toss” and the Story Starter tosses the ball to another person in the circle to continue telling the story.
  • Designate a Story Conductor. They sit in the middle of the circle and point to individuals with a conductor’s wand (or stick) in order to direct them to narrate the story.
  • As each storyteller narrates, the other players can provide sound effects to bring the story to life.
  • Pick a group of actors to stand in the middle of the circle and act out the story as it unfolds.

Links to Creativity

As a classic improvisation exercise, this activity asks children to riff or freestyle during group storytelling. Improvisation is a big piece of the creative process for so many artistic efforts, and requires a fearless openness to experience.

Supporting research includes:

Carlsson, I. (2002). Anxiety and flexibility of defense related to high or low creativity. Creativity Research Journal14(3-4), 341-349.

Deák, G. O. (2004). The development of cognitive flexibility and language abilities. Advances in Child Development and Behavior31, 271-327.

McCrae, R. R. (1987). Creativity, divergent thinking, and openness to experience. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology52(6), 1258-1265.

Sawyer, K. (1992). Improvisational creativity: An analysis of jazz performance. Creativity Research Journal5(3), 253-263.

Sawyer, R. K. (2000). Improvisation and the creative process: Dewey, Collingwood, and the aesthetics of spontaneity. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 58(2), 149-161.


This activity was contributed by the Center for Childhood Creativity at the Bay Area Discovery Museum. ©2015 Bay Area Discovery Museum. It was inspired by an activity by Sue Walden of ImprovWorks. For more information and resources see CenterForChildhoodCreativity.org or ImprovWorks.org.

Switch Story

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