Lesson Plan: Story Generator

People and cultures all over the world use symbols and images to help pass along stories that are important to them. In this activity, we will create a Story Generator that will provide clues to help us tell a story. 


Shark Masquerade Headdress, Ijo Peoples, Niger Delta Region, Nigeria, wood, pigment, rope, mirrors, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jay Matthew DeVoss, 2007.154

This large helmet mask was worn by masquerading characters in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria.  Ijo Peoples, the region’s leading fishermen, probably originated such masks representing fierce marine animals, and the masks have spread far inland. The masks are worn during performances that tell a story of the fishermen’s escape from danger at sea.   


  • Glass jar with a lid
  • Rice
  • A variety of small objects or toys (shell, ball, play jewelry, guitar pick, safety pin…)
  • Curling ribbon (optional)


  1. Wash and thoroughly dry your jar.
  2. Collect small objects from around your house that will fit into the jar. You will want 10 – 14 objects that will serve as symbols and inspiration for your stories.
  3. Put the objects into the dry jar and fill the jar with rice. Leave a little room at the top so that the jar is not firmly packed and everything can move around.
  4. Put the lid on the jar and finish off the Story Generator by tying a ribbon around top of the jar.
  5. Gently shake the jar and see what objects appear. Take inspiration from these objects to tell a story!

Story Suggestions:

The objects in the jar may have different meanings for each storyteller. 

Your stories can be true or imaginative, long or short, spoken, written or drawn!

Story Extensions:

Add on to your story by creating a main character with a paper bag or sock puppet.

Design a setting for your story, give the action a background.

Create a hat from a paper grocery bag or construction paper that could be worn in a performance of your story.