Storytelling and Culture

Activity One: Why do we tell stories?

Teacher Notes

This activity provides students with the opportunity to tell stories of their own and examine how they use stories in their lives.

Refer periodically to the Assessment Tools to help you plan how you will assess student attainment of this Learning Center's Enduring Understandings.


  • Ask each student to tell a partner a brief (one to two minutes) and extemporaneous story. The story can be one he or she has made up or heard from a friend, relative, teacher, or person on television or the radio.

  • Ask students to write in their journals why they chose that particular story. A prompt might be, "I told a story about . . . .  I chose this story because . . . ."  Click on the video image to see 10-year old Brandon Asicksik of Anchorage, Alaska, as he tells his story.

  • Ask several students to read what they've written. Record their responses on chart paper or the board using two columns: The Story Was About; and Why I Chose This Story.

  • Once you have enough responses, ask students to identify common ideas that emerge about why stories were chosen. These could include:

  1. Stories that are entertaining

  2. Stories that give news or information

  3. Human interest stories

  4. Stories that teach a lesson

  5. Favorite stories from my family or culture.

  • Some stories will fall into more than one category. The goal is for students to draw on their own background knowledge and experiences to understand the role of stories in their own society and culture.

Storyteller Len Cabral's Personal Story

Click on this video for a professional storyteller's own story. This 8 1/2 minute video tells a story and also reveals why Len Cabral feels stories are an effective way of communicating.