(Pencils) An entertaining, powerful means for passing history and language skills to younger generations


Storytelling is a wonderful way to spend leisure time; not only is it entertaining, but it is a powerful means for passing history and language skills to younger generations.

Participant Requirements:

Although this activity can be done with any intergenerational group, it is most effective with a group where the children are at least 8 years of age.


  • Instill a greater interest in reading and storytelling.
  • Provide children and older adults with an educational alternative for how they spend their leisure time.

Academic Connections/Life Skills:

Storytelling, creative writing


Writing pads, pencils/pens


  1. Form groups:
    Depending on the number of participants, break them into intergenerational pairs or small groups.
  2. Preliminary training and practice:
    Many young people have not had experience telling stories and hence are not confident in their “storytelling” skills.  One way to help prepare young people to tell stories is to start with the “Stories from nature”* exercise.  With a focus on recreating natural events as stories, ask the intergenerational pairs/small groups to work on the following:  “Think of a sequence of events that happens in the natural world. For example, a caterpillar turns into a butterfly, a seed is planted and grows into a tree, a cloud “fills” with water and bursts with rain, a tadpole turns into a frog, a baby bird hatches, eats, grows, and learns to fly.”  Then ask participants to “write or draw the events that make up the sequence.  Include details that come to mind, such as colors and sounds.”  The next step involves turning these events into an interesting story to share with the group.
  1. Storytelling:
  • Have participants choose a theme – e.g., facing a challenge, making a new friend, learning to do something new.  With these themes, have them develop short stories.  Afterwards, have each pair or small group of participants share stories with one another.
  • Consider taping the storytelling sessions.


* This activity is derived from a  4-H Cloverbud Program curriculum developed at Ohio State University and revised by Claudia Mincemoyer (Penn State Cooperative Extension).

Kaplan and Hanhardt, 2003
Copyright © 2003 The Pennsylvania State University