From The






From The


Activity Spotlight: Virtual “Secondhand Stories”

For the next few blogs, we will be highlighting some activities that you can easily do with your group online! As a reminder, you can always visit our Activities Database to find more activities to help your students connect, grow, and learn as a team.

Today, we are featuring Secondhand Stories! Your group will work together to create a collective narrative. To play, follow the instructions below, and check out the video to see it in action.  


  1. Tell participants that they have 10 minutes to construct a story. It must have a beginning, middle, end and a main character.
  2. If you have a large group, separate them into breakout rooms of about 3-5 participants. If virtual breakout groups are not an option on your learning platform, have participants connect on a conference call or Google document to create their stories. 
  3. Throughout the exercise, you will announce things that need to be changed and added to their story.
    • On Zoom you may use the “Broadcast Message” feature to announce these changes to all breakout rooms. If you are using a different platform you may need to message group members directly via text or Remind, or use the chat feature on a shared Google document.
  4. Here are some suggestions that you can announce throughout the exercise, but you can also create your own:
    • Your story must include a beach
    • You cannot talk for 1 minute
    • Add in an evil character
    • Change the name of your main character from this point forward
    • Create a title
    • Add a talking animal
    • Add your group’s favorite food
    • Make your school’s mascot a key character
    • Now everyone is on a pirate ship/in a jungle/in outer space
    • Change writers
    • Include a true story from one of your group members
    • Add a catastrophe
  5. When time is up, bring all the groups back together. Have groups share their fun stories out loud. 


See what some of our participants had to say!

  • “Secondhand Stories was an exciting writing adventure with friends. We had to think creatively and make decisions quickly to keep up with the plot twists. I enjoyed the unexpected nature of being a co-author of an unplanned story.” – Meghan 
  • “It was fun to see how people will step up to add ideas to the story virtually like they do in person. It’s also just so funny how we connected all the added details.” – Jayne
  • “Secondhand Stories was a fun way to connect with friends and share a laugh. I enjoyed seeing how everyone’s leadership style influenced how they contributed to the plot, and I loved hearing all the different twisted stories at the end.” – Morgan


Once you try the activity, spend a few minutes debriefing it. This can help your group generate ideas and reflect on the ways a simple activity can change the dynamic of the group! For Secondhand Stories, here are some questions we’d encourage you to ask: 

  1. What was easy about creating your story? What was hard?
  2. How did you adapt to the changes thrown at you?
  3. What did this show us about how we can work together moving forward?

Share what has been working in your classroom! Email