Once upon a time there was a card game in which the players were trying to tell a good fairytale. The game came with a deck of cards made up of various standard fairytale elements divided up into different story piece. There were characters and places, aspects and items, events and of course, endings. Players took turns using their cards to add to the fairytale, hoping to eventually guide the story to their fairytale ending.
In Once Upon a Time, each player starts with a hand of story element cards and a single happy ending card. The first player starts the round by beginning to tell a fairy tale, trying to include elements from their cards into their story so they can discard the corresponding card from their hand. It can't be an incidental inclusion, but must instead be a major part plot point. As the player is telling the story, all of the other players are actively listening and hoping that something they have on their cards is mentioned by the current storyteller. If it is, they can play that card down, interrupting the storyteller and taking over as the new storyteller trying to continue the story towards their own ending. One additional card in the game is an interrupt which can be used to take over a story when a particular type of card is played. Once a player has played all of their story element cards, they can then use their fairytale ending card to win the round.
While the game does have a victory condition, the goal of Once Upon a Time is really to tell a good story and this, as well as the reinforcement of story elements, is where the game's value comes from. Through play, participants get to practice creative storytelling. Not only to they need to be flexible in the stories they tell, finding ways to fit their cards into their own stories, they also need to actively listen to the other player's stories as they wait for an opportunity to interrupt. While the game states it plays up to six, there are enough cards that this number can easily be pushed to seven or eight, making it easier to cover larger groups of students in a classroom. Lastly, as an alternative to traditional gameplay, the cards themselves can even be used as writing prompts for student stories.