Create a Google Sheets “Fill-In Story” activity

Blog Post: Learn how to create your own Google Sheets Halloween Fill-In Story

This Halloween season I wanted to create a fun and engaging activity as an option while introducing Google Sheets. I decided a fill-in story activity would be perfect!

TEMPLATE: Click here to access the template.

Step 1: Pre-writing

The first step was to write a simple Halloween story in a Google Doc. While writing the story, I underlined the different parts of speech that I wanted to include during the activity. I decided to keep the story very simple as sometimes less is more.

Step 2: Creating a Sheet

Create a new Sheet at I highlighted the first row and merged the cells to add the title. I decided to use Canva to create a nice graphic. I froze the first few rows allowing the headers to remain at the top. Freezing a row allows editors to continue viewing the headers while they enter information.

Here’s how:

Caption: Go to View-Freeze to freeze a row.

Next, I added two columns below the title. In the first column, I added the parts of speech and a simple definition. In the second column, I wrote the text “Answer #” to serve as a placeholder throughout the story. I reviewed the Google Doc while working so I knew what information I needed to include throughout the activity.

Creating the activity with Google Sheets.

Step 3: Hide the unused columns and rows

If you don’t know how to hide a column or row it is quite simple. Right click on the name of the column or row and select “HIDE”. Tip: The Sheets Addon “Crop Sheet” will eliminate unused rows and columns.

Caption: Right-click and select “hide column” to hide empty cells.

Step 4: Add a New Tab and Enter the Formula

I wanted the words entered on Sheet 1 to appear in the actual story which is located on Sheet 2. To do this I first created a space for the story and formula.

I merged cells, added titles, inserted clipart, and used the paint bucket to make the Sheet look festive. (I also created the headers at Canva.) Merging cells allowed me to create one large space (cell) for the story to appear.

I wrote a formula by entering the text in quotes. The answers would appear whenever I added the formula & Madlib!Cellnumber & . For example, if I wanted the answer for the proper noun in cell B5 to appear in the story, I would write & Madlib!B5 &. I did have to revise and edit a few times to get it right. In the end the formula looked like this:

Formula and Activity

Step 5: Testing it out

Once satisfied, I tested the activity out with my 9-year-old son and it was a hit! I’m sure there will be many revisions to come but that’s all part of the fun!

Happy Halloween!


Have you ever created your own fill-in style story? I’d love to see some examples.

Passionate about all things edtech.


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