top of page

Gameplay Variants & Mini-Games


Classic Play (2-6 players)

Players may work in teams. Deal 7 cards to each player. Players take turns drawing one card, then playing one card to make their own stories. The first player to complete a sentence with 7 or more words wins.


Haiku (2-4 players)

Deal 7 cards to each player. Take turns drawing 2 cards, then playing up to 2 cards to make your very own haiku (a kind of poem). A haiku is made up of 3 lines. Your first line needs 5 syllables. Your second line needs 7 syllables. Your third line needs 5 syllables. The first person to finish wins!

In Japan (where haiku come from), haiku are written out in a single line (instead of in three separate lines), and they don’t actually count syllables to make haiku. Instead, they count sounds! In English haiku, we use syllables because that’s normally how English-speakers breaks up (and count) sounds that are made with words. There are other kinds of haiku with different syllable counts; another common form uses a syllable count of 3-5-3 instead of 5-7-5. Senryu is another similar form of Japanese poetry that looks a lot like Haiku in English. In English Senryu, there are three lines with 17 or fewer syllables in total. Senryu also have a specific subject: human foibles (mistakes). Finally, there is Tanka, which has 5 lines total. English Tanka use the syllable count of 5-7-5-7-7.


Run-On (2-6 players)

Players may work in teams. The rules are the same as the basic game rules with two exceptions. Players now draw 3 cards and may play up to 3 cards each turn. When there are no more cards in the deck, the player with the longest complete sentence wins! When the deck gets down low, you may wish to remind players that they don’t have long to finish their stories.


Babble-On (2-4 players)

Players keep a sheet of paper nearby to keep score; remember to only use a single deck for this game! Instead of ending when a player reaches a full sentence of at least 7 words, the game ends when the deck has been completely exhausted. Players take turns drawing and playing word cards as though they were Scrabble pieces; instead of playing a card, on your turn, you may move one card somewhere else on the board; it can be above, below, to the left, or to the right of another word. Whenever a player completes a sentence, they mark one point. At the end of the game, when there are no cards left in the deck, count the points for each player and the player with the highest point total wins the game.


Storygrams (2-6 players)

Players may work in teams. Place the cards face-down on the table (or ground, etc.) and spread them around. Players start the game by drawing 7 cards from the pile. They play words until they have a complete sentence of at least 2 words (a noun and verb, or a pronoun and verb). When they do, they may draw another card from the pile. They extend their stories as long as they can, until the deck is exhausted; another option is to set a timer and to count the total length of sentences once the timer it up. In this case, you might allow a sentence that isn’t totally complete, as long as the sentence is grammatical up until the last word.


Nounward Ways (2-6 players)

Same as basic game rules, except players may have two nouns side-by-side to become a compound noun (or using the first noun as an adjective to describe the second noun).


Conjunction Junction (2 teams)

Players may work in teams. Remove all the conjunctions from a deck, then place one in the middle of the playing field. Each team makes a sentence around the conjunction card, one going up-down, and the other going left-right. You can win the game in two ways: (1) by having a complete grammatical sentence on either side of the conjunction, or (2) by finishing a single grammatical sentence of at least 15 words. You may lower or raise this count based on your needs.


Stringled-Out (2-8 players)

Players may work in teams. Deal 7 cards to each player. Flip the top card of the deck face-up on the table. Take turns drawing one card, then playing one card anywhere in the face-up sentence. On your turn, you may also rearrange one card. Once the group’s story teaches 10 words, the first person to end the sentence wins the round.


Roots (2-6 players)

Players may work in teams. Any card can be played in any way that is consistent with its root word (the word that remains when any prefixes or suffixes are removed). So, you may play a normal game, except that you may now also play cards as their root words, if they are not presently listed on that card as play options. For example: The adverb card “kindly” could be played as the adjective “kind,” and the adjective card “overwhelmed” could be played as the verb “overwhelm.” Depending on how you are using these cards generally, you might allow the adjective card “overwhelmed” to be used as a past-tense verb either way. You could get creative and allow players to use roots that aren’t necessarily intended: for example, the word “monkey” might be played as “monk.” You may play plural versions of root words.


Wilds (2-6 players)

Instead of writing your own words on the 10 make-your-own cards that come with the game, you may keep them in the deck simply as wild cards. In other words, they may be played as any word. If using in the classroom, you may wish to have students declare its part of speech alongside playing it.


Story Sweeper (2-6 players)

This game is non-competitive (all players work together) until the very end. Everyone gets 7 cards to start. Players take turns drawing and then playing one card to tell a shared story horizontally. At any time, players may play cards vertically from the horizontal sentence to tell new stories. Continue until one player has completed at least 3 sentences of at least 5 words each.

bottom of page