Several years ago I *really* discovered Rory Story Cubes from a homeschool friend. Until that time, I understood that these funny little dice were a family game. Gathered around a table, families would roll the dice and then make up stories based on the pictures rolled. Interesting, potentially fun, but also anxiety producing in my crew. I just wasn’t interested. My friend, however, talked about using them differently. Using them as narration prompts, and that had my attention.
After experimenting with several approaches over the years, our family has found a way of using them that never fails to inspire meaningful conversation while being fun!
We call our morning table time Morning Symposium. We call it this to help us remember that this is a time of conversation and shared learning. During our Morning Symposium we read a variety of good and great living books. We do some Charlotte Mason style narration, but we strongly prefer animated conversation. Rory Story Cubes gives us that in spades. I could work to explain it, but I think that sharing a recent conversation may be more telling.
Before I share the conversation, I wanted to mention that we have used Rory Story Cubes in other ways as well. For example, we passed them around the dinner table and used them to tell stories about things we had thought about that day. Anything respectful was fair game as long as it connected to the picture that was rolled. Another creative use has been to roll for our next read aloud – we choose a book that connects with whatever we have rolled.
The hardest part about the cubes is remembering to pull them out! My anxiety about being locked into story telling (instead of re-telling) has disappeared and now we see them as conversation prompts that take us on lovely and interesting family conversation journeys.
Morning Symposium – June 2016 – Burgess Bird Book
Me: Ok, so we have a shooting star. Greta, you said that the shooting star reminds you of something.
Greta: Because it flies.
Me: Because a shooting star flies through the air?
Greta: Because of the house sparrow.
Me: The house sparrow in the Burgess Bird Book… what is the name of the house sparrow?
Me: and Mrs. Bully?
Me: But we also rolled a troll. How does the troll remind us of this story?
Michael: A cat!
Me: How is Bully a troll?
Greta: Because he is being very mean.
Me: Good, because he is being mean. Mike, you said ‘a cat’ – how come?
Mike: Because trolls try to catch people and hurt people.
Me: Keep people off of their bridge, right? So who in the story was trying to block something or keep something back?
Greta: Mrs. Jenny Wren!
Me: Not Mrs. Wren… but
Greta: Mrs. Bully.
Me: Mrs. Bully was doing what?
Michael: Keeping the Wrens out of their house.
Me: Keeping the Wrens out of their house, right. Jack, what were you going to say?
Jack: Because they fighted and then they got the house back? The Wrens. That would be good.
Me: Yes, it would be good if they could get their house back. Is it easy to beat a troll?
Me: Why is hard to beat a troll?
Mike: They are big.
Greta: They are strong.
Me: Do they threaten?
All: Yes. And they are mean.
Greta: Unless he is Ood in Wingfeather – because he is very nice.
Me: Unless he is Ood in Wingfeather, because he *is* very nice. Ok!
Michael: Yeah, the other trolls too!
Me: Well, once Janner recruited them, right? How about we go back to, who else is a troll in this book.
Michael: The cat, I think.
Me: Yeah, the cat. Why?
Michael: The cat wants to eat them!
Me: And that’s what trolls do, right? They try to eat people?
Michael: Yeah, they try to eat the billy goats. But, I think, the one-eyed troll from Greek myths is really bad and tried to eat Odysseus’s men!
Me: Oh! The Cyclops is a troll. That is a good idea! He is a Greek troll. What did he try to eat?
Michael: Odysseus’s men!
Me: Absolutely. Good job guys! Should we roll two more and see what we get?
Michael: Yes. Actually, could we roll them all?
Me: Ha! I think that rolling them all might be a little bit much for today! Ok, now we have garden tools – a rake and a shovel. How would garden tools connect with this story?
Michael: I know! It is set in an orchard!
Me: They are in the orchard – right!
Michael: And you rolled an eye! That’s for the cat’s eyes!
Me: Right! What color were the cat’s eyes?
Michael and Greta: Gold!
Me: Right, gold and menacing. What else could the eye mean? Greta?
Greta: Like Kalmar’s eyes when the Fang took over.
Me: That’s a great point! Good job. But what else could the eye signify in the Burgess Bird Book?
Michael: The birds SEE the cat.
Me: Yes! Was anything mentioned about watching in this story?
Michael: Yes! Peter Rabbit was watching the fight.
Greta: And he didn’t help. That is not good.
Me: Well, why didn’t Peter help.
Michael: He likes to watch and gossip.
Me: He doesn’t have a sword, does he?
Michael & Greta: Yeah.
Me: He is definitely not Picket, is he?
Greta: Peter is not that good of a character.
Me: Who does he remind us of in Black Star?
Michael: I know! Kyle!
Greta: HE WASN’T A TRAITOR! HE WAS FOLLOWING HIS DAD’S COMMANDS.
Me: Ummmmm… is he? If mom and dad tell you to do something awful, should you do it?
Michael & Jack: NO!
Me: So Galt and Kyle – they are like Peter Rabbit, how?
Michael: They are rabbits who betray.
Me: Who has Peter Rabbit betrayed?
Greta: The Wrens. By not helping.