Card Stories

Card Stories are very simple stories based on the Circling with Balls activity cards that some of us did to start the year.
Card stories represent an intermediate zone of CI instruction that is more complex than the simple sentences that characterize the PQA done with the cards, yet is much simpler than full blown stories. Card stories provide a stepping stone from cards to stories.
To some teachers, going from cards to full blown stories is no less frightening than jumping off a cliff, so why not write and act out in class a few ultra simple stories based on the ultra simple information given by the students during the cards activities?
For example:
Already, the class knows that Jenny likes cats, because some degree of circling has gone on around that information earlier, maybe for a few minutes, maybe for an entire class period depending on what happened with that card on that day in August or September. But now, using the information from Jenny’s card in a new way, the teacher has prepared a story script. This ultra simple script has no target structures nor does it have three locations, as in regular story scripts. It’s just a few sentences. There are no steps to follow, and the only skills needed for card stories are Circling, SLOW and Point and Pause.
Note: In the following examples, the underlined words are the variables, the class replaces them with their own cute suggestions; the non-underlined words are required for the card story to work and are presented via Point and Pause during the story, and not before – there is no PQA in these stories; that was already done with the cards):
Sample Card Story Script 1:
Jenny likes cats. Jenny has two cats, but wants ten. She goes to the cat store. They only have four cats. Jenny cries.
Sample Card Story Script 2:
Christian plays soccer. He sees someone in class. He falls down. He gets up. He laughs.
(Note: the key to success with these short little scripts is to follow rule #7 – Actors – synchronize actions with my words).
These card story scripts are a bit more restrictive than regular stories, in that they don’t allow a lot of variables, but, in that limitation, they bring greater order to the process, which is necessary now in October. They only take a few minutes to write. They keep the focus on individual kids longer into the fall and winter. They do an excellent job of preparing the ground for real stories. They are a great way to teach the most important aspects of comprehension based instruction, verbs [credit: Bryce Hedstrom]. It is almost a form of doing simple stories using TPR only. Most importantly, they keep the level of difficulty of the class down to a much more manageable level for both the teacher and the students. Finally, because they are so simple, the teacher can get very creative with the play aspect of the story, possibly presenting each verb in plaintive  fashion, or exbibiting fear, or humor, or anger, or romance, etc. Card stories are good for working on the various TPRS skills.



2 thoughts on “Card Stories”

  1. Thank you, Ben. This is exactly what I need right now. My fourth graders need much, much more structure than I had ever anticipated, and this will be a fantastic way to end the week on a strong note when I see them again tomorrow.

  2. This is the first year I’ve done circling with cards, and simple stories have just naturally spun out of these cards, especially with the 8th graders. They love it! The artist has been drawing these simple stories in a 5-6 panel illustration, so that the next day, before I hand out a reading of the story, I can pull out the illustration, point to a panel, and ask a student to describe it in Spanish. Or, a student might volunteer to tell the entire story. It’s great for differentiation and for reviewing the story before jumping into the reading.

Leave a Comment

  • Search

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe to Our Mailing List

No spam, notifications only about new products, updates.

Related Posts

The Problem with CI

Jeffrey Sachs was asked what the difference between people in Norway and in the U.S. was. He responded that people in Norway are happy and

CI and the Research (cont.)

Admins don’t actually read the research. They don’t have time. If or when they do read it, they do not really grasp it. How could

Research Question

I got a question: “Hi Ben, I am preparing some documents that support CI teaching to show my administrators. I looked through the blog and

We Have the Research

A teacher contacted me awhile back. She had been attacked about using CI from a team leader. I told her to get some research from



Subscribe to be a patron and get additional posts by Ben, along with live-streams, and monthly patron meetings!

Also each month, you will get a special coupon code to save 20% on any product once a month.

  • 20% coupon to anything in the store once a month
  • Access to monthly meetings with Ben
  • Access to exclusive Patreon posts by Ben
  • Access to livestreams by Ben