“You are all sitting on a coach, going on a school trip. You have your packed lunches with you. You look out the windows and see that the roads are very busy today. The heavy rain taps on the coach windows and the radio is playing an Ed Sheeran song. Where are you going on this trip?” I ask Emily.
“To the Science Museum!” shouts Emily improvising on the spot.
“The coach driver turns to you all.” I put on a gruff cockney accent. “I’m afraid we have to take a different route, the road ahead is blocked with traffic.”
The class are attentive, they want to know what will happen next. They are a little bit confused that they are being told a story that isn’t from a book. A story that they all get to be in.
“The coach drives in to a dark tunnel, everything goes completely black. Suddenly colourful crackles of lightning appear at the end of the tunnel. A portal made of swirling purples and greens fills the tunnel ahead. What do you do?”
The question confuses them. They get to decide where this story can go.
Millie tries to get the coach driver to stop the vehicle but he gives a menacing smile. The class quickly realise that the coach driver is not quite what he appears and Isaac sees that the driver is actually wearing a mask.
“I’m going to pull his mask off!” shouts Isaac.
“As you pull away the plastic mask, you see the scaly face of a lizard man hidden beneath. He hisses at you and pushes his foot down on the accelerator. The bus speeds through the portal and you all feel like you are falling through the air. Every colour fills the space around you and suddenly the coach crashes upside down into a strange orange coloured tree. The sky glows purple, the ground below is red. This is a strange world. Who was wearing their seatbelt?” I grin.
A few children don’t put their hand up. This is where I introduce them to Health Points. On the Interactive White Board there is a giant 6 sided dice. I click the mouse and it spins around in a rolling animation before showing the face with 2 pips on it. “If you didn’t buckle up then you take 2 damage! Always wear a seat belt kids!”
The class start to realise this is a game as well as a story. They are fascinated with the giant dice that helps determine their fates. I tell them that they can heal health points by eating items from their packed lunch. A drink gets you 3 HP back, a sandwich has 2 slices of bread so you get 2HP back and you have 1 bag of crisps that can heal you 1 HP. A few of the children who didn’t have their seatbelts on, gobble up their sandwiches and are back to full health.
“The upside down coach rocks back and forward in the tree… Olivia, what would you like to do?”
I begin to work my way down the register asking each child what they do now they have found themselves in this strange new world.
“I want to look around for a first aid kit, teachers always bring first aid kits on a school trip.”
“Roll the dice.” I reply. Olivia gets up from the carpet and pokes the dice on the board. It rolls around on the screen and lands on a 4.
“Well done, you find a small first aid kit with bandages and plasters. You can use it to heal 10 HP for two different people.”
“Awesome!” Olivia yells.
After the other children look around the coach. Isabella looks out the coach window to see if she can see anything or anyone.
“You see the portal shrink and close. There is no way home! Between the trees, you see strange shapes heading towards you. It looks like there are more lizard people coming to find you.”
“Oh no!” yells Liam, getting caught up in the moment.
“And that is where we will have to stop for today…” I say. The children can’t believe it. Some refuse to accept that we’ve finished and try to tell me the action they want to take.
“Tomorrow.” I reply.
“Do you promise?” Aiden asks.
This was the beginning of our first adventure. I soon realised the impact this form of storytelling had on the class. The students would talk about the sessions together at lunch times and come up to me to tell me what they were going to do on their next turn. There was a real buzz and a sense of collaboration that was wonderful to see.
To find out more about how I ran these sessions, check out The Dice Game Rules post on the articles page.