Friday, September 14, 2012

Review: Rory's Story Cubes

Rory's Story Cubes are about as simple a toy as you can get. They're 9 dice with random pictures on each side. The idea is to use them to spark stories - whether they are used together or individually. There aren't any official rules to play with them, though there are some suggested games.

I first busted them out last school year when our 7 year old came home with vocabulary terms he needed to write sentences for. Frequently, his sentences would be little more than definitions. Say he had to use "discover" in a sentence, he might right down "Discover is when you learn something new." A fine sentence (for a 7 year old), but where's the pizazz? Aha! I thought, time to bust out the story cubes. He can use them as inspiration?

Yeah, not a good idea. I quickly learned that they were a distraction, not inspiration.

On a few other occasions, I took them out to play with, but for whatever reason, they were a dud.

That is until a couple of weeks ago. I've found that if I need a few minutes of entertainment, I can quickly build a story by using the following approach: roll the cubes, pick one that inspires a bit of the story, tell it until I run out of ideas (usually about 10 seconds...), roll them again, and repeat. The boy enjoys the story, and the cubes make them easy to craft.

With practice, he'll be able to do the same thing, though, it's tougher for a kid to do than I would have thought. I think that's because I can pull from a whole heap of stories (oh look, the fish cube came up -- I'll introduce a talking fish...), that he just hasn't heard yet.

It's also been fun to work together to build a story. We start by rolling all the dice, pick one, tell part of the story. Then, we take it out of rotation, and continue the story with the remaining dice. We repeat this 9 times, and we're done.

This is definitely one of those toys that I had high hopes for and was initially disappointed with. They not magic, and won't instantly make your kid a lover of story telling. But, I'm thinking this can be a fun little filler, and great to travel with, too. Definitely worth holding onto and experimenting with.


  1. I've got a set of those, and the "actions" set as well. If you're a programmer or designer, it's fun to go to Rory's website and read about the invention and history of the cubes.

    I think Rory needs to make a set to help out programmers: say, with faces that have things like "transform the data," or "use a linked list." Then, when you get stuck on a problem, you could use them to brainstorm, lol.

  2. The programming design cubes would be awesome. We certainly use the same solutions over and over again.

    I'm into patterns, but I know that they used to be the rage - perhaps putting those on a set of cubes would work?