Rory's Story Cubes
Rory’s Story Cubes are one of the top selling toys of the year. They are just perfect for language therapy with older kids. Read on for my top ten ways to use Story Cubes for Speech Therapy and homework.
Number of Players: 1+
Ages: 6+ (According to the box but I would save this for older kids and would go with 9+ as a guide personally)
Target: Where do I start?! Teaches vocabulary, sentence structure, expanding utterance length, turn taking, team working, imagination, storytelling, narrative development. The targets are endless with this neat toy!
At no more than three inches square and containing just 9 dice you think “Really, is that it?” but Rory’s Story Cubes really are the small box that hides big fun and fabulous learning opportunities.
The instructions are simple. Roll the dice and use all 9 pictures to tell a story. Try it out for yourself and you will get an idea of just how far you can go with this simple concept.
At first glance I wasn’t impressed by the graphics and thought them too simplistic but as I played I realized that here lies the secret of this little beauty. The ambiguity in some of the images means you can twist the meaning of the image to suit the story forming in your imagination.
One of the images I took to be a castle. However my students have decided is anything from a fortress to a cheese shredder so you get the idea of the flexibility!
You can limit this by doing a run through of the pictures after you roll and collectively deciding what they are but for me this spoils the fun. In any case, many are crystal clear (such as the fish, flower, keyhole etc.)
The instructions suggest you use 3 of the dice for each part of the story (beginning, middle and end) and I think this is a great way to give added structure to beginning storytellers but it is not a hard and fast rule of play.
This product originated in Northern Ireland and is just gathering pace with the crowd in the States but its popularity of “top ten” lists for Christmas shows it has already proven itself a winner. Other versions are available including the newly released Story Cubes Actions
Its size and the super strong box make it an ideal game to throw in your purse or pocket for that unexpected downtime without needing to buy a separate “travel” version. Try it with your kids or pull it out as a party game the next time you have friends over. I promise you will have fun!
Using Rory's Story Cubes in Speech and Language Therapy
Rory’s Story Cubes are one of those hard to find games that hit the spot with older kids and those struggling with higher level language issues or with the transition from spoken language to literacy.
There are so many ways to use the cubes in Speech therapy that you should really just pick up a box and try it out for yourself but to get you started I’m going to give you my top ten ways
to use Rory’s Story Cubes as a Speech Therapy Game.
1. Vocabulary Development
– Among the simple images of a rainbow and a tree you will find others that are a vocabulary learning opportunity for your kids. Take the time to label and talk about the images. Search for the ones they can’t name (maybe the pyramid, abacus or shadow) and talk about what they are. Then use that cube as a story starter to get them to use the new word in a sentence straight away.
– Some of the pictures are ambiguous. Talk about what this means and choose one block to illustrate the point. Then take turns to see what each child sees when they look at the block. Help them to put their ideas into sentences.
3. Narrative Development
- This one is really the basic premise of the standard game so just play it straight. Roll the dice and help your child to build a story from the pictures they see. It can help if you get them started by choosing the first cube and scripting “Once Upon a time there was a huge lightening storm…” and then let them build the rest of the tale. Don’t do this unless you need to though as you are limiting their ability to use their own ideas.
4. Imaginative language
– The story doesn’t always have to be sensible. Let your child develop their ability to use language to describe by not making anything off limits. So what if you don’t find an abacus in the desert! Let them use Rory’s Story Cubes to tell a tall tale and they will be working on their imaginative language. Great for kids who tend to live a little too much in the here and now and be rigid in their thinking.
5. Grammar and sentence structure
– Don’t be too quick to bring this one in or the game will get stale too quickly but once your child can really spin a yarn, you can start to correct certain aspects of their grammar as they go. This works best if you agree targets with them in advance like “We are working on past tense so I’m going to help you out if I hear you struggling with that, ok?” Keep it simple and limit your corrections or you will spoil the magic of the story.
6. Written language
– I have used this mainly as a verbal task, working on getting a great story verbally but it can be done as a written task if that is where your child is at right now. Older teens can do it as a solitary task and then bring it to you and you can work together to improve the language and work in more complex forms of sentence structure into their written prose.
– The game can be played from one player up but if you have more than one then you will need to invent a scoring system. If you are using the written version above then why not have your kids play by email with friends and then host a contest to decide who wrote the best story.
8. Structured Storytelling
– Lots of kids with language needs struggle to get to the point when they retell events. Rory’s Story Cubes recommend using 3 cubes each for the beginning, middle and end of the story. If this is an area of difficulty for your child then cut it right down to 3 cubes in total and work on basic retelling – reinforcing the concept of beginning, middle and end. You can preselect the cubes in the beginning to give maximum support to those that need a lot of work in this area.
9. Listening skills
– After each child has told their story, ask questions to see what details the others can remember. This is more interesting than listening to a regular story as they will be all ears to hear the crazy tale their sibling or group member comes up with. It helps to tell the group in advance that you will be asking questions so they should be listening out.
10. Asking Questions
– In the above activity, have your kids ask questions after the story is finished to get more details (not necessarily provided by the cubes). The range of story possibilities will mean they can ask a range of question types “Who, why, where, when, how?”
Now you know all there is to know about the game – you are ready to play. Have fun!
See more Reading Games for Kids.