Fortunately / Unfortunately Storytelling Game

This Drama Game Can Help Your Kid Become a Better Writer

kids in school story time

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"Fortunately / Unfortunately" is a game used in drama workshops, improv classes, and it also makes a great ice-breaker for group activities. Here's a way to use it with kids.

Fortunately / Unfortunately and Writing Skills

In order to become a skilled writer, your child must first learn to tell a story. Storytelling isn’t an easy skill to learn: it requires learning the different parts of a story, how to move a plot along, and also how to use your voice to make that story exciting and engaging to the audience. 

The Fortunately-Unfortunately game is a fun storytelling game that practices adding details to the plot of a simple story. Adding details to both their characters and their stories is something many kids need to work on. In this game, though, the most important thing is quick thinking, not creating a logical story, which can make for some pretty ridiculous tales!

Goal of Activity: Your child will participate in developing an adventure story, using the cue words "fortunately" and "unfortunately" to indicate a change in the plot.

Skills Targeted: Storytelling, verbal communication, written communication, vocabulary, analytical thinking skills

How to Play Fortunately / Unfortunately

  1. Gather all your players together and tell them you’re going to combine your creative efforts to tell a story of adventure that has a number of plot twists to it.
  2. Explain the meaning of the words "fortunately" and "unfortunately" for the players who aren't familiar with those words. For the purpose of this game, the word "fortunately" can be explained as a word that is used to foreshadow a stroke of good luck coming the character’s way. Similarly, "unfortunately," can be explained as a word that will be used to introduce some really bad luck happening to the character.
  3. Decide on a name and some basic personality traits for your character. You don’t have to create an entire character sketch, but knowing a little bit about whom you are telling a story will be helpful.
  4. Explain that this character leads a very confusing life in that just as something lucky happens to them, the very next thing that happens is unlucky. Thus, the words “fortunately” and “unfortunately.”
  5. Begin the game by stating a sentence about the character. It doesn’t have to hold a lot of information, but it needs to be strong enough to start a story. For instance, you might say: "Amanda walked into a store to buy a new pair of shoes."
  6. Pass the story on to the next player who needs to add a sentence beginning with "Unfortunately." The next player might add on a sentence like, "Unfortunately, she walked into a pet store by mistake."
  7. The next player then adds to the story with a sentence beginning with "Fortunately..." For instance, the player might say, "Fortunately, Amanda had been looking for a new dog, too." This pattern continues until the story becomes utterly ridiculous or the players get tired of the game. As you can see, the story becomes a game of give and take:

"Amanda walked into a store to buy a new pair of shoes. Unfortunately, she walked into a pet store by mistake. Fortunately, Amanda had been looking for a new dog, too."