One Word at a Time

Here is our guide to One Word at a Time.

We put this guide together after running thousands of fun word games like this to bring remote teams closer together.

One Word at a Time is an engaging word association game where each participant contributes a single word to collectively form a coherent story or sentence. This activity fosters collaboration, creativity, and communication skills within the team. Members must actively listen, think quickly, and build upon each other’s ideas to progress. By playing this game, teams develop a deeper understanding of each other’s thought processes, strengthen their bond, and enhance their ability to work together effectively.

Ideal group size: 

6 to 12 players

Activity duration:

15 to 30 minutes



What you’ll need:

  • Video conferencing platform (e.g., Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet)
  • Optional: Virtual whiteboard or collaborative document tool (e.g., Google Jamboard, Miro, MURAL)

How to play:

Step 1: Introduce the Game

You can start by explaining the rules of “One Word at a Time” to the participants. The goal is to collectively create a story or sentence by adding One Word at a Time in sequential order.

Step 2: Set the Theme or Topic

Then, provide a theme or topic to guide the story creation process. This theme can be a specific scenario, such as “A day at the beach,” or a broader theme like “Adventure.”

Step 3: Establish Order

You can determine the order in which participants will contribute their words. For instance, go alphabetically by first name, clockwise around the virtual room, or use any other method that ensures every player gets a chance to participate.

Step 4: Start the Game

Then, begin the game by having the first participant contribute the first word of the story. Folks can choose a word that relates to the theme or topic provided.

Step 5: Build Upon Each Word

Each participant adds one word to the story in sequence, building upon the words contributed by their teammates. Participants listen carefully to the words that team members have already said to maintain coherence and continuity in the story.

Step 6: Encourage Creativity

It is important to encourage creativity and spontaneity in word selection. There are no wrong answers, and the goal is to have fun and collaborate with their team members.

Step 7: Manage Timing

You can monitor the pace of the game to ensure it progresses smoothly. If the story stalls or participants take too long to respond, then gently prompt the next individual to contribute their word to keep the momentum going.

Step 8: Facilitate Engagement

As a host, you can ask follow-up questions or provide prompts to spark ideas. For example, if the story seems to be veering off track, then you can ask a leading question to redirect it back to the original theme.

Step 9: Conclude the Story

Groups can continue playing until the story reaches a natural conclusion or a predetermined number of rounds. You can play as many rounds as you would like.

One Word at a Time prompts:

  • Lost Treasure: A map leads friends on an adventure to find hidden treasure.
  • Magic Seeds: Planting mysterious seeds leads to unexpected growth.
  • Glowing Stone: A stone found on the beach holds magical powers.
  • Whispering Woods: Trees in a forest communicate with each other.
  • Moonlit Journey: Friends embark on a nighttime journey under the full moon.
  • The Friendly Ghost: A ghost helps a child solve a mystery.
  • Rainbow Falls: A waterfall creates rainbows that grant wishes.
  • Talking Animals: Animals in the forest start speaking human language.
  • Flying Carpet: A magical carpet takes children on adventures.
  • Time Machine Mishap: Friends accidentally travel to the dinosaur era.
  • Invisible Friend: A child befriends an invisible companion.
  • Candy Kingdom: A world made entirely of candy comes to life.
  • Wishing Well: Coins thrown into a well grant wishes in unexpected ways.
  • Robot Repair: A broken robot teaches a child the value of friendship.
  • Dragon Egg: A mysterious egg hatches into a baby dragon.
  • Ice Cream Adventure: Friends embark on a quest to find the best ice cream in town.
  • Secret Garden: Children discover a hidden garden behind an old mansion.
  • Superhero School: Kids attend a school for budding superheroes.
  • Moon Rabbit: A rabbit on the moon comes to life and visits Earth.
  • Time-Traveling Cat: A cat with the ability to travel through time helps its owner fix past mistakes.


  1. Establish Clear Rules: Set guidelines for the game, such as the number of words allowed per turn and how long each team has to respond.
  2. Encourage Collaboration: Encourage teammates to listen actively and build upon each other’s contributions to create a cohesive story.
  3. Stay Flexible: Embrace spontaneity and be open to unexpected twists and turns in the story. Adapt to the direction the narrative takes as a team.
  4. Keep it Concise: Encourage players to use succinct language to convey their ideas, allowing for smoother transitions between turns and keeping the game engaging for all participants.
  5. Emphasize Creativity: Encourage creativity and imaginative thinking by welcoming diverse ideas and encouraging players to think outside the box when contributing to the story.
  6. Maintain Momentum: Keep the story moving forward by responding promptly and building upon the previous word or phrase. Avoid long pauses or interruptions that can disrupt the flow of the game.
  7. Have Fun: Above all, focus on enjoying the collaborative storytelling experience with your team. Embrace the humor, creativity, and camaraderie that come with playing One Word at a Time.

Final Thoughts

Collaborative storytelling fosters creativity, communication, and connection among team members. This simple yet engaging game encourages participants to listen actively, think on their feet, and contribute to a shared narrative, promoting teamwork and camaraderie even in virtual settings. By embracing spontaneity, encouraging creativity, and maintaining a positive and inclusive atmosphere, teams can enjoy a fun and memorable experience while strengthening bonds and enhancing collaboration.

Want more ideas? Check out our post on communication games.

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