Being the language arts junkie that I am, I bought three different kinds of Rory’s Story Cubes. We have the Original, Actions, and Voyages cube sets.
I won’t go that far, but I love to use this technique in my own homeschooling. Not always to achieve some so-called goal, but to wring all the fun from whatever we happen to have on hand, while still learning in a natural way.
Being in a small-for-us house, this technique is doubly helpful – we don’t have to actually own as many things as other people in order to have the same kind of fun. (The irony is not lost on me that we bought *three* sets, but hey, they’re small.)
With that in mind, I sat down to figure out some different ways to use Rory’s Story Cubes, as they are a recent favorite. Here are my top 20!
- You can use them as the directions state on the box. Many of those can be found here on the Story Cubes website, or on the inside flap of each box of Story Cubes.
- Put the cubes in a bag or pouch and pick out one story cube at a time to either roll or use the player’s choice of side. The more ornate or mysterious the bag, the better. It helps put players in the storytelling mood. Enchanting costumes are optional. 😉
- Tell a story using all the sides of only one cube selected out of the bag.
- Roll all the cubes and look for categories. This works better with more than one set. You can select a category beforehand or have the players see what comes up. You can use a function (things that help people), or attribute (like hard things, long things) also.
- Roll the cubes and choose two face up pictures to compare and contrast. We also like this one with more than one set, because it’s easier to find something similar. Hard to find similarities between a fish and a magic wand, but be creative!
- Look for rhymes on the face up cubes. You can use any aspect of the picture – let the players be creative. For example, for the picture of the bee, you could rhyme bee, stripe, stinger, wing, fly…even ouch (for being stung!), scared, insect, bug, etc.
- Use them for mad libs, either some you make up or those you buy. Roll one cube when you come to a blank, and let that picture be (or inspire) your answer, or roll many cubes for more choices. The pictures can often be used for many parts of speech — say you rolled the fountain. The noun could be fountain, a verb could be run/running, sprinkle, or trickling, an adjective might be wet, adverb could be loudly, etc
- “Tell me 10 things about” – the picture on the cube or the item or action it represents.
- Roll a set and tell a story ,but you can’t use the word “________” pick an obvious word that will make it more difficult to tell judging by the pictures rolled (i.e. you rolled a pot of gold but you can’t use the words “pot” or “gold”). Or make it more general and use a word like “went” or “had.”
- Roll one cube and remember the picture. Then roll all the cubes again and tell a story from the point of view of the first rolled cube. “This is a story as told from the point of view of the lock on the front of Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard. I sit here all day, quietly watching Mother Hubbard and her hungry dog. I’m so happy when she comes over to see what I am hiding inside…”
- Roll all the cubes, and look at them for 30 seconds. Take them away and see how many you can remember after 1 minute. (Hint: it helps to tell a story in your head. If you can remember the story, you’ll remember the cubes more easily.)
- With a few sets of cubes, tell a story vertically. Stack the cubes and keep telling the story until the tower falls. See how high you can go.
- Play the alphabet game. Roll the cubes and find something that starts with A, then B, then C, etc. It doesn’t have to be the exact label of the picture, just something that is suggested by that picture. So a picture of a telescope could work for T, or S (scope or see or sky), L (lens or long), O (observatory), or C (closer). And I’m sure there are many more. We allow anything that can be explained well.
- Player 1 rolls and tells a story. Mix the cubes around but don’t re-roll. See if player two can retell the story using the pictures.
- This game needs an additional pair of six sided, numbered dice and works well with a group of players. Player one starts telling any story (fairy tale, book they’ve read, movie they’ve seen…). Player two quickly and continually rolls the pair of dice until he/she rolls doubles. At that point the story stops, and the second player rolls a story cube. The face up picture now has to be worked immediately into the story by player 2, and the story can veer off in different directions. The next player in the group is then the numbered dice roller.
- Instead of a story, the players use the cubes to write an advertisement or infomercial, trying to sell their next great product.
- Toss the cubes onto a wide open area. The player has to hop (or walk backwards, crawl, jump…) from one cube to the next as they tell their story.
- Instead of a longer story, roll the cubes and try to say the shortest, grammatically correct sentence you can using all the cubes. Extra points if it makes logical sense. For example, using the cubes in the picture below, you could say, “While the sun was rising over the ocean, the humming octopus skipped breakfast to swim over the sea mushrooms looking for his glasses, but they were in the tent with his map.” Silly, I know.
- Roll a cube and see how many synonyms you can come up with, or if the picture doesn’t lend itself to that, then items in the same category or related items.
- “And they lived happily ever after.” Tell a backwards story! Start with a scripted ending such as “and they lived happily ever,” and work the story backwards using the cubes to the beginning of the story. “And the wolf was never seen again. He ran off into the distance beyond the mountain. The hunter chased him around the tree with his ax. A hunter heard from afar. The little children shrieked with fear that a wolf was after their lunch…”
I hope you find these adaptations fun, or inspirational to make up your own games.
Do you enjoy using Rory’s Story Cubes? Let me know in the comments!