Use OneNote to Create a ‘Choose your Own Adventure’ Book

Everybody loves a ‘Choose your Own Adventure Story’. Ever considered how you could easily create one using OneNote? It really is an easy activity that would be great for some end of year creative writing tasks. 

“You wake up in a field. There is an old brick farmhouse to your east, and a dense, overgrown forest looms ominously to your west. You hear a noise in the distance. As it grows louder you soon see it’s a pack of wild, angry dogs and they are heading straight towards you. Do you make a break for the house, take your chances in the forest, or await the arrival of the canine carnivores?!”

Choices. We make them every day. Some barely warrant a second of our time, while others need more consideration. This activity showcases some of the unique properties of OneNote 2013 to help students create a digitally enhanced story that celebrates choices and pay homage to Packard and Montgomery’s choose your own adventure (CYOA) novels from the 1980s and 1990s. It uses 21st century tools to plan, edit, collaborate and share student writing.

Learning Objectives of this Activity

  • to produce interactive choose your own adventure stories
  • to work collaboratively online to produce an end product
  • to create stories to share online with a wider audience

1. Planning

Because of the nature of this particular type of story, there are a number of possible outcomes and endings that need to be planned for. Read the example stories in the resources below and talk about how they are structured. Map them out by inking or using the shape tool in OneNote to create a flowchart of the story structures. Have students plan their own structure based on these examples.

2. Writing

For many students this can be a complex and/or time consuming task, so collaborating in small groups can be a good way to help divide up the work. The teacher can have each group work on their own OneNote notebook, or create a class notebook where each group will write their story within an assigned section. Use pages to link to the choices that the reader makes. Name each page with a title like Page 1, Page 2 etc. so that the reader does not get the first sentence as the page title.

3. Linking in OneNote

There are many ways that you can add links in OneNote 2013 but for a choose your own adventure story you will want to use the option to link to pages in the notebook. So, instruct students to:

  1. Write the scenarios they need
  2. Add choices that link to each page by highlighting text and going to Insert > Link, then selecting the page that they would like to send the reader to after they have made their choice.

You may want to get students to create all their pages first before they add the links to ensure they have all the scenarios they need.

4. Sharing

If students created their stories in the same notebook, but in separate sections, they can read each other’s stories and embark on adventures created by their class mates. Additionally, the teacher can share a “view-only” link to the notebook so that parents, or other classes in the school or around the world can read your stories without changing any of the writing the students have done.

Tips for Successful CYOA Stories

  • Remember that multiple students can work on the same OneNote notebook at the same time. Consider having each person in the group working on a different page to work more efficiently on the story.
  • Use Insert > Pictures, or Insert > Online Pictures to add some visual interest to your stories. Alternatively, if time allows, students could draw their own illustrations with the tools on the Draw menu.
  • Consider the use of video to add variety, but don’t overuse it. You could, for instance, save a video recording for the end of the story. Go to Insert > Record Video and use the webcam on the device to record video segments.
  • To help younger students, or those with reading disabilities, include an audio recording alongside the typed text on each page. Simply go to Insert > Record Audio to begin recording.
  • If the reader makes a “wrong” choice, give them the opportunity to try the adventure again by linking back to the first page of the story.
  • Make sure that students test the final story before they share with others. Make sure all the links go to where they are supposed to go and that all audio and video files are clear and audible.


What other innovative ways do you use Microsoft OneNote? Share your activities below.

Activity from Microsoft Educator Network