Classroom Activities: Story Cubes
GUYS, this is a game-changer for teaching English in France (and anywhere else, for that matter!)
If you’ve never heard of story cubes, not to worry. I wouldn’t have known about them either if I hadn’t chosen to stay with a family as a live-in au pair (more on that later).
(Little do they know, I’ve capitalized on this unassuming children’s game + used it to my own advantage over in the classroom! Ha*)
*Disclaimer: they know about it - they’re great and I love my host family.
Seriously, you guys. Do yourselves a favor if you’re going to be teaching English and invest in this simple little orange box of nine dice! You won't be sorry.
Alright, so Here’s the deal:
Each cube has an image on it. Think: a fish, a rainbow, a parachute, a question mark… you get the drift. And that’s IT.
Well, but then what? You may be asking.
But that’s just the beauty of it - the possibilities are ENDLESS.
Some tried + true lesson plans:
Activity: Word association
Level: Collège + Lycée
Story Cubes Game
A whiteboard that opens up to form two sides hiding one team from the other is more fun, but just a basic whiteboard, or even pen + paper, will suffice.
Whiteboard markers (either multiple for each team, or only one - you decide)
wo teams of 3 to 4 students
(You can also do a sort of winner-stays-on tournament with three teams.)
I (or they) roll a die and whichever image appears, they have 2-3 minutes to write every word they can possibly think of to associate with the image (think: image = fish, associated words = ocean, Nemo, scales, swim, bubbles, salmon… ANYTHING!) I set the timer on my phone and play some music in the background to keep things lively.
You can be the judge of the “out-there” words. Typically, if a word didn’t make sense to me, I told the team to justify it in English and if their justification was strong enough, I’d give ‘em the points.
2 points for unique words (meaning, the other team didn’t write it down)
1 point for the same words (meaning, both teams wrote it dow)
0 points for words that are just a little too far-fetched and without a sufficient justification from the students
Activity: Sentence Stories
- en + paper
Two teams of 3 to 4 students, but also possible to divide everyone up into pairs.
- Teacher rolls the die, and whatever the image is, the students must write a sentence involving the image (i.e. First image: "Rainbow" -> Sentence: "One day, I saw a huge rainbow over my house.")
- Give them about 1 to 4 minutes (less time for stronger classes, more time for weaker) for each sentence. Then on the next roll, they must connect the sentence to their last sentence written. (i.e. Second image: "Fish" -> "One day, I saw a huge rainbow over my house. At the end of the rainbow, I saw a leprechaun holding a huge fish." And so on.)
- If the students have questions on how to say something in English, make sure to write it up on the board.
- Eventually, they will have a story written and each group can read their story. Students may have to be reminded that the goal is to be funny, but not inappropriate (ahem, we have high school students on our hands here...)
- Do about 5-6 rolls and sentences depending on time.
- Leave time for corrections at the end, if desired.
Activity: Charade Cubes
- Just some excited kiddos
ndividual, as a class
- Teacher goes over each image on the cube(s) with the students, making sure to enunciate each word and to have the students repeat it back.
- Teacher rolls the die and calls out the image.
- For example, if the image is a Parachute, students must pretend to fly around in a parachute.
- Objective: Listening + word comprehension
- Eventually the teacher will go faster and faster as students will be trying to get the correct charade/action for the corresponding word.
- If all goes according to plan, there should be a classroom full of excited students jumping around pretending to act out each word they hear! Keep doing it every so often throughout the year, and you'll be amazed at the progress they make!
All of my classes loved these games, especially the word association game on the board. It's a great way to break the ice with groups of new students, as well as a way to channel the students' hyper energy in the classroom.
It was amazing - even the least engaged groups really got into it (the level of competition really brings the French students out of their shells, I’ve noticed!!!)
Where to Buy the Game:
'd imagine you can pick up this little box of teaching magic wherever games and toy are sold! Also, if you're in France, you can pick 'em up at your nearest FNAC for around 10€ (the best 10€ investment you could make, it you ask me!)