When I was a kid, I loved playing Mad Libs. Often given to me as a stocking stuffer or grocery store present from my parents, Mad Libs, the “phrasal template” game, was one of the ways my parents kept me and my siblings entertained, while also helping us learn the parts of speech. This comical reinforcement of our school grammar lessons made learning the parts of speech fun.
As much as I’d love to supply all my students with Mad Libs booklets of their own, I know, realistically, that’s not in the cards. But there is a way to deliver the fun of Mad Libs to your students while also creating your own personalized Mad Libs-style templates.
AutoCrat—an add-on found in Google Docs—allows you to create your own Mab Libs-style stories and easily distribute the stories to your students.
Learn how to get started using the instructions below!
Step 1: Google Drive
Go to your Google Driveand create a New Folder. This will be where you store all your Mad Libs story templates.
Step 2: Create a Template Using Google Docs
Within your new template folder, select New (top left), click down to Google Docs, and select Blank Document.
Within the document template, determine which words you’d like to omit from your story, so your students can supply the word.
Once you have determined your omitted words, determine what part of speech you’d like to be inputted to that location. Create a unique name for each input location and surround this text with this notation: <<text>>
Example: Ms. Wenke decided today’s lesson would focus on <<adjective 1>><<plural nouns 1>>.
You should have several of these merge fields throughout the template document.
Make sure to include an email address field in the form!
Step 4: Google Sheets
Once you have completed creating your Google Form, click on the Responses tab and select Create a New Spreadsheet.
To get students to answer, refer back to your Google Form. Click on Send, located in the top left of the page. Next, fill in the students’ email addresses in order to send the form.
Once your students receive the Form, and provide their answers, create your Google Sheet. It will look like the image below. (You may do this beforehand as well)
Step 5: Add the autoCrat add-on
In your newly created Sheet, select Add-ons
If you already have AutoCrat, it will appear and you will select it. However, if you have not added AutoCrat, go to Manage Add-ons (located in the Add-on drop down) and search AutoCrat (see image below or click here).
From there, open AutoCrat.
Step 6: Complete the Final Details in AutoCrat
Once you see the AutoCrat pop-up in Google Sheets, select New Job.
Name your merge job (I named the merge job the same as my Doc, Sheet, and Form in order to keep it consistent).
Choose your template
This will be the document that you created in Google Docs with all your <<tags>>. You will be able to access it by selecting From Drive. Click on the desired Doc and hit Submit. Once it appears in the AutoCrat pop-up as your selected template, hit Next.
Map your source data
Check to ensure your tags and columns match.
If a red tag appears next to any of the words (as seen in the example below by “<<adjective 3>>,” you will have to go back into the word Doc and check it against the Form. Once corrected, you will have to run AutoCrat again.
Set your file settings
This is where you decide what your newly created documents will be called when it appears in the Drive folder.
Choose a column in your Sheet that corresponds to an identifying question, like “<<Email Address>>”, in your Form. Make sure to write it exactly as it appears in the Sheet (it’s case sensitive).
Next, select your destination folder. This will be the folder that you created in Drive back at Step 1.
For Steps 6, 7, 8, and 9 within AutoCrat, feel free to select Next for each one. They’re all optional. If you’re feeling experimental—go crazy! But for us today, we’re going to scoot right by those and leave them in their default setting.
At this point, AutoCrat will bring you to your Existing Jobs. If you hover over the job, as seen in the image below, you will see the option to run the job by hitting the play button.
Please note: You will need to have Form responses from your students in order for the job to run correctly.
Upon hitting the play button, your job will start merging the documents. This will take about a minute or two.
Once the job is completed, return back to your original folder from Step 1. There you will find all of the student responses with their answers merged into the original document. The student provided words will appear bolded within the document.
Now, have fun reading your Mad Libs stories out loud (and making your students laugh)!