Have you heard of Rory’s Story Cubes? I think it’s a great material to help children develop story telling skills.
Story telling is part of my Montessori language curriculum and it stresses the importance of getting a child to tell as many stories as possible. The learning comes from parent or teacher modeling. While we read a lot of books together, I just haven’t done quite enough to model free-flow story telling.
How we use the Story Cubes
As always, we started off with me giving a demonstration of how to use these Story Cubes. After a few examples, he got the hang of it. He has picked up sequence and order words such as next, after that, first, and finally. He’s also learned to select his cubes thoughtfully because he tries to create a story so that it sounds as logical as possible.
We basically roll all the dice in a basket (so that they don’t roll too far) and start inventing a story based on the picture cues on each die. The order of the cubes is entirely up to us and I like that because Zach has to pause and consider all the picture cues before diving into a story.
There have been several times though where the logic of Zach’s story is completely ridiculous and he finds that amusing. I think there’s nothing wrong with that. The fact that he has a mischievous look on his face already tells me that he knows logical from illogical, and real from unreal. So I say let the kid be silly!
This really works best when I work on it together with Zach. Actually it feels more like a game than an actual activity. A fun and sneaky way to squeeze in some language exercises! (Although there have been times when I’ve been busy but caught him using it nonetheless.)
Extensions: Adding story depth
In the beginning, my modelled stories were short in order to demonstrate how the Story Cubes work. But now that he’s got the gist, I’m adding more details to my stories in between each cube. I want him to understand how to connect each cube as coherently and logically as possible.
I’m helping him to add cause and effect, emotions, descriptive words, or any other details wherever applicable (“the man is devastated, because his beautiful house burnt down.”)
Our school teachers are always encouraging the children to add more details to their writing, and for some reason this is an area where both my children seem to be struggling with.
Where to buy
I only have the original story cubes that I purchased from a garage sale two summers ago, but I definitely like the complete set of 6 to add variety, depth and vocabulary to a story. For a young child I wouldn’t put too many dice all at once, the nine dice that comes with our original set seems to work well, so perhaps a rotation of the various dice will work well.
This set from Imagination Generation looks really good as well — I like how they have different categories for each die (villains, heroes, tools, obstacles, settings, etc) that help to thicken the plot line.