The Award Winning Creators of Rory's Story Cubes and Extraordinaires

Rory's Story Cubes has a new home

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For over ten years, we have been on a mission to bring Rory’s Story Cubes and the fun of spontaneous storytelling to the world. We’ve spent many hours drawing icons, designing packaging, translating rules, chatting on social media and nurturing partnerships with distributors and retailers around the globe. Now it’s time for our “baby" to leave home.

Rory’s Story Cubes is now part of the Asmodee catalog of games. It’s in good company with classics (and some of our favourites) such as Dobble, Timeline, Ticket to Ride, Pandemic, Catan, Dixit and Takenoko, to name just a few.

Over the next few years, we (Rory, myself and The Creativity Hub team) will work with Asmodee to help with the brand philosophy and product development of Rory’s Story Cubes.

We are so proud of our “baby”, the playful way Rory’s Story Cubes brings people together, and how it turns everyone who plays into a storyteller. We firmly believe that, as the creators, we have only scratched the surface in terms of its potential impact, both as a game and educational resource. We can’t think of a better partner than Asmodee, to honour the inherent playfulness of Rory's Story Cubes while introducing it to a wider global audience and future generations.

Bons Voyages!

Anita (& Rory)

The Creativity Hub Develops New Game Plan For 2017

The Creativity Hub has built a reputation these past few years for designing intelligent, playful games that are full of heart. Rory's Story Cubes® is connecting millions around the world through the power of storytelling, while The Extraordinaires® Design Studio is helping children develop the empathy and creative thinking skills they need to navigate an increasingly complex and divided world.

It's easy to become complacent, but the world is ever changing. With that in mind, we have set ourselves a design challenge for 2017, to build upon what we’ve done in the past and push our mission further. We plan to develop game titles that bring people together, challenge assumptions and encourage players to view themselves and the world around them in new ways.

And we're really, REALLY excited.

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“We never set out to become game designers; we just wanted to share Rory's Story Cubes® with the world. However, its runaway success has taught us many lessons about game design, manufacturing and what it takes to create a successful play experience.” - Rory O’Connor, co-founder of The Creativity Hub

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With that in mind, we are proud to announce that Patrick Nickell (Founder of Crash Games) and Michael Fox (Little Metal Dog Show) will be joining us, bringing with them their years of game industry experience to this brand new direction for the company.

Patrick and Michael will be responsible for overseeing the game development pipeline, starting with two brand new releases at this year's Essen Spiel in Germany. We'll be previewing these new games to a select few at shows and conventions in Europe and the United States, beginning with the New York Toy Fair later this week. If you'd like to check them out, you can contact us to organise interviews.

We will also be drawing on their experience to further develop retail and distribution channels in North America for The Extraordinaires® and StoryWorlds™ product lines.

Once again, we're really excited. We're planning to explore new concepts and create new things that are rarely seen in the world of tabletop gaming, and that is what drives us. We can't wait to show you what we're working on, and hope you'll join us for this incredible journey.

For more information on Rory’s Story Cubes®, The Extraordinaires, StoryWorlds™ and our upcoming game releases for 2017, please contact Michael directly on +1-603-851-1005 or email [email protected].

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Come Join Us at Essen Spiel 2016

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It’s that time of the year again, where the StoryCube team get busy and excited about going to Essen Spiel, one of Germany’s biggest toy and board gaming faires. Held in the town of Essen each October the event draws roughly 150,000 board gaming enthusiasts over 4 days. Hundreds of new games will be introduced at SPIEL 2016 and we can’t wait to play games and of course show StoryCube fans all of our new sets and storage solutions.

So what new stuff will we be showing at Essen, We hear you ask?

Well, we're glad you asked, as it just so happens we have a bumper year and have lots to show you, including additions to our new StoryWorlds and StoryCubes ranges as well as some awesome storage solutions.

So the best place to start is always at the beginning.

New Rory’s Story Cubes Mix sets.

Our New Mix sets are here! Yay, we hear you cry. This year we are excited to release, Medieval, Powers and Rescue. Add these 3 cube sets to your existing sets and create even more tales. Into scary tales, detective mysteries, mythical stories or enchanted fables? Rory's Story Cubes® Mix will have you covered with a full expansion range.

Medieval - Weave Classic Tales of The Middle Ages

'The Jester of Pompadoo Castle, helped the princess escape through the barley fields past the black knights.

Rescue - Tell tales of tense, daring rescue.
'Someone call for help, the volcano is about to blow!'

Powers- Spark super-powered stories of heroic adventures.

'Jenny used her telekinetic powers to defeat Lord Zoron'

New Rory’s Story Cubes®: StoryWorlds

Last year we brought you The Caped Crusader, Batman and Sweden’s Moomin; This year we bring you 3 new, officially licensed sets. Enter the worlds of your favourite characters and craft your own fan universe where your favourite characters battle against good and evil; travel time and space; or cause ACME havoc. With our exclusive licenced StoryWorlds collection, the power is in your hands to create ultimate fan stories.

Doctor Who - Create Your Own Wibbly Wobbly, Timey Wimey Adventures

Which alien is unleashing chaos on Earth? What new puzzle confronts the Doctor and his companions? Where must the TARDIS go next? Roll the nine cubes and tell your very own Doctor Who stories using the icons on each cube inspired by the BBC’s greatest Sci-Fi adventure. With millions of storytelling combinations, this officially licensed, award-winning and fun game is perfect for the original Doctor Who fan who jumped behind their sofa when they first saw the Daleks, to today’s new fans and in between

Scooby Doo - ''Zoiks Scooby We Have Our Own StoryCubes!''

Which monster is chasing Scooby and Shaggy? What Clue has Velma discovered? Who is behind the fairground hauntings? Roll the nine cubes and tell your very own Scooby Doo stories using the icons on each cube inspired by the cult TV classic. Ideal for the Scooby Doo fan, young and not so young.

Looney Tunes- Sufferin Succotash!

What trick is Bugs playing on Daffy? Which ACME gadget has backfired on Wile E. Coyote? Did Tweety really see a Puddy-Tat? Roll the nine cubes and tell your very own Looney Tunes stories inspired by the world famous cartoon series. Perfect for the Looney Tunes fan.

Are you a Mixer or a Sorter?
We have listened to our fans and this year, we are extremely excited to bring you, two new storage options where your StoryCubes can have pride of place. Showcasing first at Essen Spiel 2016, the Collector's bag and box will be available online at storycubes.com very soon.

The Collector's Bag

Like to mix it up and keep all your cubes nestled together in one bag? This is the solution for you. With The Rory's Story Cubes® Collectors Bag, you can easily store our entire Rory's Story Cubes® collection in the one place.

Grab and Go: The secure toggle closure will ensure your StoryCubes stay in the bag.

The Collector's Box

With this collectors box, you can store all eighty-one StoryCUbes from The Rory's Story Cube® core range. See your full collection in one place (and note what is missing!). This collection is due to complete in 2018. Quickly locate the particular StoryCubes you want to include in your story.

Where to find us at Essen?

Drop by our stand, say hello and roll StoryCubes. We’ll be at Stand 3-P101. See you there

No Trivial Pursuit

Developing new board games can have more ups and downs than Snakes and Ladders, but creators can be in for big rewards if they pass go. Ed Power meets the Irish designers getting the world of tabletop gaming in a spin

Ed Power May 22 2016, 12:01am, The Sunday Times

Knot bad: West Cork-based Heasman, with his Celtic design inspired Tara, ‘a simple connection game’ which has done well internationally CLARE KEOGH

It was a phone-call from a rock god that set Murray Heasman on the path to becoming a board game designer. “Out of the blue one day, I was contacted by Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin,” the West Cork-based Englishman recalls with a chuckle. Heasman was at the time a cabinet-maker who also made leather fretwork mandolin and guitar straps inspired by the interlocking Celtic knot design. They had caught the guitarist’s eye. “He told me he loved them. I remember thinking, ‘Bloody hell — this Celtic knot thing might have potential’.”

Heasman’s days of fraternising with rock stars may be over, but the intricate weave with which Page was smitten continues to inspire him. Based in Clonakilty, Heasman now runs award-winning board game design company Tailten Games, whose showcase product is Tara, a two player affair inspired by Celtic knotwork and incorporating elements of chess, the traditional Chinese game Go, and 1970s rainy afternoon staple Connect Four. “It looks complicated but it’s really very simple,” he says. “It’s basically a connection game: you connect the squares and the knotwork magically appears.”

Tara has done well internationally, winning praise from big players in the gaming market such as US retailer Barnes & Noble. Heasman plans on unveiling his next project, a 3D sculpture puzzle called Knotiverse, later in the year.

Board games are booming. A recent crowd-funding campaign for a board game based on the popular Dark Souls role-playing video game raised more than $5m (€4.46m). Web series TableTop, in which blogger and former Star Trek actor Wil Wheaton plays favourite board games with celebrity guests, draws hundreds of thousands of viewers. Ticket To Ride, a multi-award-winning cross-country train adventure with several versions, including “routes” across Europe and America, has sold 3m copies in the past decade. A movie adaption of Dungeons & Dragons, the original fantasy tabletop role-playing game, is on the way. Board games are no longer seen as the preserve of social recluses or the terminally nerdy — though they remain popular with both.

“Sales of board games have been on the rise every year for the past decade.” says Heasman. “There is so much more that a real face-to-face board game has over its digital counterpart. Board games are becoming cool again.”

Ireland is home to a small but vibrant gaming sector. Designers are passionate about the hobby while acknowledging that we remain on the gaming periphery.

Dice work: Foxes and Chickens designer Henry, above with son Ethan, 9, was inspired by a real life incident at his brother’s farm

KEITH HANEGHAN

“Traditionally, gaming has been promoted as helping social cohesion in countries such as Germany,” says Rory O’Connor, co-creator, with wife Anita Murphy, of Rory’s Story Cubes, one of Irish board gaming’s rare international breakthroughs. “There’s an old joke that on holidays you will see a German family playing board games with their kids while the Irish and British will be in the pub. There is a tradition on the Continent of board games taking place in a social space.”

O’Connor and Murphy became a success almost by accident. In the early 2000s, O’Connor, a creative thinking consultant, was researching new ways of inspiring imaginative role-play among business clients. He came up with the idea of using cubes — which he embossed with pictures of animals, weather events, and objects such as books and and paper planes — as a tool to unlock creativity. Players roll the cubes and then, inspired by the pictures, weave a narrative. O’Connor describes the cubes as a “creative story generator” and, though not a “game” in the Snakes and Ladders sense, their product has been embraced by the tabletop community.

“In 2004, the same month my daughter was born, I started hand-making and selling them,” he recalls. “People kept coming back asking for more. I thought, “Wow — this has real potential.”

O’Connor and Murphy, now based in Belfast, saw the game as a powerful educational tool. But for all their idealism, with a young family and a mortgage, they realised they had to make a living. Hard-headed financial decisions were made. The smartest way to profit from their creation, they realised, was to publish Rory’s Story Cubes themselves rather than have a third party manufacture it. That way they would earn income as small business owners rather than as creatives living off royalties.

O’Connor developed Rory’s Story Cubes to unlock children’s creativity

“In 2008 we decided to publish the product and find distributors,” says O’Connor. “Because the concept was quite easy to copy, we needed someone who would act as a heavyweight and protect our copyright. So we licensed the game in the US to a big company called Gamewright, which has had success with a game called Forbidden Island.”

When Gamewright outlined its ambitions for the product, O’Connor was astonished. It envisaged popularity on a scale he could barely conceive of.

“They agreed to take it as long as they could sell 10,000 sets per annum. As an Irish person, that seemed a really big number. It was like, ‘Ten thousand, where are we going to find that many people?’ Then you go to China and America and realise that, wow, there really are a lot of people in the world.

“We have now sold 5m and are doing a million a year.”

Such has been the popularity of Rory’s Story Cubes, O’Connor and Murphy have introduced licensed tie-in versions featuring Batman and Scandinavian cartoon characters the Moomins, while Dr Who-themed story cubes will be unveiled at this year’s Comic-Con convention in San Diego. A virtual edition launched for smartphones and tablets has already been downloaded tens of thousands of times. “The cubes tick a number of boxes,” says O’Connor. “The concept is really simple to explain, and it is essentially language free, so you can sell the same thing to an audience in France, Korea, Japan or America.”

You will see a German family playing with their kids while the Irish are in the pub. There is a tradition on the Continent of games in a social space

But while O’Connor and Murphy have had success, board gaming in Ireland has yet to grow up. It can cost up to €10,000 to develop and manufacture a product, and state support is essentially non-existent. The result is a high barrier to entry, says Kieran Henry, designer and publisher of board game Foxes and Chickens. The irony is that Hasbro, the world’s largest games company, has its European manufacturing base in Waterford. Every copy of Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit and Guess Who sold in Europe is made in Ireland.

“To get a game on the shelf is expensive,” says Henry. “You have to manufacture several thousand, at least. Companies that produce the board games for you won’t be interested in your order if it is only for a few hundred.”

In Foxes and Chickens, players take on the roles of foxes competing to raid a henhouse. The idea came to Henry, a landscaper from Mayo, after an unfortunate incident at his brother’s farm. “He keeps a few chickens and was telling me how a fox had called during the day and stolen them. Normally, foxes come at night. It was one hell of a cheeky fox. I thought, ‘Wow, we should make a board game out of that’.”

The game has done well and has been carried by Smyths Toys and Toymaster. As with O’Connor and his story cubes, Henry sees his game as more than just a time-killer. “There is an educational aspect,” he says. “Kids learn numeracy skills — how to count forward and backward, multiplication.

“I’ve had three or four other ideas for board games I’d like to get off the ground. The money thing is the problem. When you are doing it on your own, it can be difficult.”

Heasman agrees. “I found there was no support anywhere when we needed to expand the business abroad,” he says. “I found myself challenged to the core.”

Heasman hopes to pay for the development and manufacturing costs of Knotiverse through a crowdfunding campaign. “There is no significant board games industry in Ireland, so when dealing with banks and institutions, I was up against it.”

Gamers can be sniffy about older “classics” such as Monopoly and Ludo, dismissing them as simplistic. O’Connor is more generous in his assessment. He thinks there is room for games of all types — whether that be his creative story-telling game, something traditional like Cluedo, or a current bestseller such as zombie-themed Dead of Winter.

“It’s as if you only listen to the Beatles when there’s all this great music that has come out since,” he says. “There have never been so many great games out there to enjoy.”

Source: The Sunday Times Online

COMIC BOOK FANS OF THE WORLD UNITE AS FREE COMIC BOOK DAY IS COMING!!

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This Saturday May 7th, the Gods of Comics look favourably on their mortal subjects as Free Comic Book day is Nigh! Free? Yes free, it’s basically Christmas without the awkward cracker jokes and granny sleeping on the sofa. Just walk into your participating neighbourhood comic store and an arsenal of comic bad-assery will be yours for the taking. So seize the day people, steel your nerves, get that cape on, bring your utility belt and wear your cosplay like Batman wears his Mech Suit.

50 titles we be available on the day completely free. Check out the list of titles here

You can also learn more about Free Comic Book Day here

Find your nearest participating comic book store here

There’s no hiding that the StoryCube team are massive comic fans and we especially cannot wait to see the new Doctor Who and Suicide Squad releases. We’re so excited that we just had to do something to join in on the fandom.

So what are we going to do???

FREE BATMAN COMISSION

Comic book fans will receive an exclusive Batman Illustration by Jorge Corona. Just visit in-store and get your copy. (limited quantity)

Get your own Batman StoryCubes here


OOO-WEE-OOOOOOOOOO EEE-YOO-OOOOOOOOOO

If you just heard the Doctor Who theme tune, congratulations you have passed the first test.

We were in touch with the good Doctor as he has been using our Dr Who StoryCubes to warm Ashildr’s heart. The Doctor did have some bad news to break to us. Well it’s all about perspective really and within time and space that can change on where/when you are. Leaving Gallifrey on his way back to Earth the TARDIS hit some turbulence in Space-time and as a result 4 of our Exclusive Doctor Who StoryCubes sets have travelled back in time before their official release this September.

In 4 stores across Europe there is one special pre release copy of Doctor Who StoryCubes. 4 lucky fans will be the only four people in the world to own a set of Doctor Who StoryCubes before they are available to buy.

What do you have to do?

Attend Free Comic Book Day at one of our participating comic book stores, get your hands on a copy of the New Dr Who comic, and if the Time Lords will it, you will be chosen as a winner.

Participating Comic Book Stores

Travelling Man (Leeds)

Forbidden Planet (Dublin)

Comic Book Guys(Belfast)

Cellules Grises (Evry, France)

Big Bang Comics (Dublin)

PLEASE THE TIME LORDS AND A SET COULD BE YOURS!

DON'T FORGET TO SHARE YOUR PHOTOS WITH US ON TWITTER AND FACEBOOK, JUST TAG US OR USE THE HASHTAG #STORYCUBES

Play With Your Food, It's good for you

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Irish Storytelling company bucks trend and encourages you to play with your food.

Today, in a bid to improve the recommended daily intake of calcium for children ages 6-12 and to promote creativity, quality time together and more meaningful meal times, the leading storytelling games publisher Rory’s Story Cubes® has launched an edible cheese version of their creative storytelling game.

Roll the dice, tell a story and then eat it, it’s a simple as that. The age old problem of young children playing with their food and making Picasso-like creations on the dinner table has been solved. Parents will rejoice, meal times will be less chaotic and carpets will be saved.

There is a serious point to this game though. Research from the World Health Organisation (W.H.O) has shown that there has been a worldwide increase in osteoporosis cases, with young children being at the top of the scale. The recommended daily intake of calcium (the bone-building nutrient) to promote strong bones and teeth is 1000mg per day, but sadly current reports show that the general intake is a staggeringly low 300mg average per child. Enter Rory’s Story Cubes®, who have turned their creative storytelling game into a calcium rich cheese game designed specifically for play at meal times.

Rory’s Story Cubes® Head of Sales & Marketing Candida Corscadden, is passionate about the new direction for the company and its new product, ‘’ Over the years we have seen how important meaningful play is in the development of young people. We have also listened to the feedback from our customers and fans who have shared their meal time woes with us. Parents need a meal time activity that is fun, creative but also nutritious. Our Rory’s Story Cubes® Cheese is the answer to these woes and we are very excited about launching them this year’’.

Are there any dangers with this new product? No, it is perfectly safe and delicious, a word of warning though, initial research has shown if eaten before bed-time, the stories told will promote cheese related nightmares. The team suggest that Rory’s Story Cubes® Cheese are not eaten after 8pm.

Alessandra Bingham, a mother to two boys and one girl in Ohio has been using Rory’s Story Cubes® Cheese in a pre-release trial. ‘‘These cubes are amazing, for the first time in two years there has been calm at the dinner table, we roll our cheese cubes, tell a story and then add them to our pizza. The kids love the gorgonzola flavour the best and always want to tell more stories. I know they’re getting their daily calcium intake which really puts me at ease’’

What are StoryCubes? Rory’s Story Cubes® is a pocket sized story generator. Simply roll the nine dice and begin your story, ‘Once upon a time….’ and use the embossed images (fifty-four of them) to spark your imagination. They are a fantastic, fun way to inspire creative thinking, encourage social confidence, develop language, improve vocabulary and promote problem solving skills for ages six and above.

For StoryCube recipes and to learn more about Rory’s Story Cubes® you can get in touch with their brand manager, Jamie Stinson, [email protected] or check out their website storycubes.com

Queen Victoria Fights Genghis Khan in Space!

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We bet that's a headline you didn't expect to come up in your feed? Well, let us explain and you'll see how we got there...

Last weekend The Rory's StoryCubes® team attended London Super Comic Con at Excel for the very first time and what an event it was. Fans were given the first sneak peaks of our new StoryWorlds range which includes Dr Who, Scooby Doo and Looney Tunes. London Super Comic Con was packed full of fans, writers, illustrators, collectors and much much more; ultimately it was a giant Smörgåsbord of comic fun and fandom.

We met lots of artists from different genres and styles who loved our new StoryWorld sets, so much so that they were inspired to roll the dice and create some terrific and wonderous new artworks, some of which clashed a few worlds together.

KATIE COOK @katiecandraw

Katie Cook rolled our Moomin, Batman, Dr Who and Original range Storycubes to create these quirky and endearing illustrations. Kaite is an American comic artist/illustrator who is also a writer on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

Mr Hope www.misterhope.com

Mr Hope is a British Illustrator who is currently working with New York Times bestselling author, Thomas E Sniegoski and is a frequent exhibitor at the Leeds Thought Bubble Sequential Art Festival. Mr Hope rolled our Batman StoryCubes to create a scene with Dr Harlene Frances Quinzell and the Joker.

Mike Collins @mikecollins99

And here is how we arrive at the title of this Article. Mike Collins is a British comic book artist, a penciller for Dr Who Magazine and has worked on DC and 2000 AD titles. Mike also introduced Gambit into the Marvel Universe and is a storyboarder for Dr Who and Warhammer 40K. Here he rolls our Dr Who set to create a truly fantastic scene featuring Queen Victoria fighting Ghenghis Khan in Space. To the BBC, if you happen to be reading this, we need to see this episode happen.


As it has only been a few days since London Super Comic Con, we still have a few more artworks to receive, so stay tuned and watch out for part two of this article. As a taster lets see if you can imagine the scenes from these rolls?

What Are Rory's StoryCubes?

Rory’s Story Cubes is a pocket sized story generator. Simply roll the nine dice and begin your story, ‘Once upon a time….’ and use the embossed images (fifty four of them) to spark your imagination. There are no right or wrong answers, anyone can become a great storyteller. They are a fantastic, fun way to inspire creative thinking, encourage social confidence, develop language, improve vocabulary and promote problem solving skills for ages six and above. Presented in a compact magnetic box Rory’s Story Cubes are perfect for travel, waiting in a restaurant in the classroom, as an icebreaker, for idea generation, or to make learning a new language more fun – the uses are endless. Each set can also be added to with Mix sets. Mix are three cube sets that introduce a new theme or genre to your storytelling. Craft tales of cracking crime with the Clues set, conjure fantastic fairytales with Enchanted and weave tales of primeval predators with Prehistoria. Rory's Story Cubes also have their own licensed sets including Batman, Moomin, Dr Who, Looney Tunes and Scooby Doo.

If you have used StoryCubes and have a story to share with us, then we would love to hear from you. Simply drop an email to [email protected]

Australian Unleashes Creativity in The Heart of China

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T.E.F.L EDUCATOR IGNITES CREATIVITY IN CHINESE SCHOOL WITH RORY'S STORY CUBES

Today, Australian expat Chris Edwards based in the Shenzhen in China teaches English as a foreign language to over two hundred students at Beihuan Middle School in Guangdong province of China. Using Rory’s Story Cubes®, a nine dice story-telling game, Chris has broken down barriers and climbed the proverbial Great Wall to unleash creativity in his students, leaving them inspired, empowered and ready to develop their full potential.

Thirty four year old Chris Edwards left his home town Perth in Australia two and a half years ago, crossing the South China Sea to teach English in China. Residing at Beihuan Middle School in Shenzhen, the fourth largest city in China in Guangdong Province, Chris teaches a class size in excess of twenty grade 7 (12yrs) students at a time.

English as a foreign language is taught across schools in China and is seen as a necessary tool in the young academic's toolkit. As the gates of China are unlocked and slowly opened opened to the western world, the need to converse in the language of business is apparent. Children educated in monochronic cultures have little exposure to creative outlets and have less opportunity to explore and express themselves creatively; but as we find out, as a linear culture does not primarily focus on creativity and empathy this does not mean it isn’t there, lying dormant, awaiting to be awakened.

Enter Chris Edwards, a champion of change and a beacon in the mist for creative wanderers. As we sit on our video call, you can see and hear the clear enthusiasm and passion Chris has for teaching and for his students. If the meeting were in person, we just know he would be gesturing and leaping across the room, acting out sequences, re-telling the tales of his students and his experiences. Edwards frankly comments ‘’People think Chinese students are not creative, but this is not true. They aren’t allowed much opportunity to be creative’’. Edwards sees the potential in creative expression and knows it imbues qualities such as resilience, self-esteem and empathy. Using Rory’s Story Cubes, Chris holds group story-telling sessions in his classroom, where students can learn English through the medium of Story-telling. Chris tells us that ‘Rory’s Story Cubes unleashes creativity in my students’ and has found a change in some of his students as they find their creative fires are ignited and demonstrated in all areas of their creative work.

‘’People think Chinese students are not creative, but this is not true. They aren’t allowed much opportunity to be creative’’


What are Rory's StoryCubes?

Rory’s Story Cubes is a pocket sized story generator. Simply roll the nine dice and begin your story, ‘Once upon a time….’ and use the embossed images (fifty four of them) to spark your imagination. There are no right or wrong answers, anyone can become a great storyteller. They are a fantastic, fun way to inspire creative thinking, encourage social confidence, develop language, improve vocabulary and promote problem solving skills for ages six and above. Presented in a compact magnetic box Rory’s Story Cubes are perfect for travel, waiting in a restaurant in the classroom, as an icebreaker, for idea generation, or to make learning a new language more fun – the uses are endless. Each set can also be added to with Mix sets. Mix are three cube sets that introduce a new theme or genre to your storytelling. Craft tales of cracking crime with the Clues set, conjure fantastic fairytales with Enchanted and weave tales of primeval predators with Prehistoria. Rory's Story Cubes also have their own licensed sets including Batman, Moomin, Dr Who, Looney Tunes and Scooby Doo.

Back to the story. We are a good hour into our call and have yet to hear how Chris uses Rory's StoryCubes, but finally we reach that point. How does one create stories with students whilst maintaining egalitarianism and that notion of the group working as a whole, a notion so strong in Chinese culture? This is where Chris takes over in the article, I’ll step out and make a cup of tea, while you read this

Idea Generation

‘I decided to start with the Original set as the base, with occasional forays in to other sets as occasions dictated. The classroom breaks up into six groups with a maximum group size of four students. Encouraging group work is something that all teaching methods agree on. Using a digital projector, I would roll the cubes on the projector, which would then display the dice and their icons on to a smart board for all students to see and interpret. I would give students two to three hints about what the pictures could represent to encourage alternative thinking. If they have their own ideas about what the pictures mean, the students would be encouraged to use those instead of my thoughts – and some students did; independent thinking is always encouraged.

Each group received a small blackboard that was about A2 size and some chalk. I usually gave the students six to seven minutes to meet the target additions to the story (two to four sentences was my normal requirement for the classes). If they could write more, that was even better, and some students could write a lot in a short period.'


Story Collection and Voting


'After some time, each story board was collected and presented, so everyone could see the story ideas everyone had generated. The students would voice their opinions with either “Yes”, “No” or “Maybe”. Three or more ‘No’s’ from the group was considered for removal from the list of potential answers. Three or more ‘Yes’ votes put that story idea in the final list for selection. Three or more ‘Maybe’ votes were allowed in case there were no ‘Yes’ votes.'

'Students voted on how the story continued based on the submissions that their classmates wrote, however they could not vote for their own submissions, thereby eliminating some bias. but obviously, (there will obviously be some internal bias between friends sitting in different groups, such is the dynamic of a classroom)'

'On some occasions, class would run over time, or there would be a tied vote. In situations like this, I would opt to combine the popular submissions into one piece. Many classes enjoyed this approach and it challenged my own abilities to interpret what they had written.'

Hello again dear reader, I’m back. OK so where were we? Ah yes, the story-telling:

After each story-telling session Chris would populate a spreadsheet of all the stories and track their development across the school semester, he initially started populating a PowerPoint presentation, but as each student became accustomed to the story-telling process and more empowered to add their own perspective, story-telling shifted from an arbitrary linking of icons to a deep and contextually rich process, where worlds and characters were being created.

Chris sees the change manifesting in his students. ‘I displayed the stories on the walls of my classroom. Each week the stories grew exponentially like Hedera Ivy. As the stories were displayed physically, students would read them all even it it wasn’t theirs, because they had a genuine interest in what different classes were writing.’

‘Making the games tangible by simply placing them on a wall empowers young students’


Deviating from the normal prescription of teaching English, Chris would soon attract the attention of his peers. Teaching staff would come into his class and look at the work of his students with awe and amazement; they could see the empowerment, the skill and creativity previously untapped now flourishing like a lily in a desert, organically and un-tempered.


A change has happened in China and Chris has seen this manifest in his students and carry into other parts of their lives. He hopes to collate all the stories from his time in China and create a book of stories.


‘I want the students to have something to take home for all their hard creative work over the school year. This shows them what they can do – and for some students, no one has ever told them that they can do it.’


Chris also wants parents to see the work of their children and take pride in them, but also he wants them to see his class, as not an opportunity to blow off steam but as a chance to be creative in a different way. The Foreign or ‘Waiguoren’ teacher is not just there as a foreigner, but there to provide a new perspective; a new way; and a window to other cultures, helping them for their roles in the world of tomorrow and allowing a creative footprint for the future.

If you have used StoryCubes and have a story to share with us, or are an educator interested in learning more, then we would love to hear from you. Simply drop us an email to [email protected] .

Can Children Harness the Power of Play and STEAM to Tackle 21st Century Challenges?

The Creativity Hub Launches Innovative Research Study

Empathy, self-esteem and resilience; not the first thing that comes to mind when you look at a toy or game designed for young people, however, The Extraordinaires Design Studio® seeks to promote just that, empowering young people through a playful experience that distills how professional engineers, designers and architects approach real world challenges.

For this innovative research study, The Creativity Hub have partnered with seven future-thinking organizations, schools and clubs located across the United States to study whether learning, human-centered design thinking can develop empathy, creative problem solving skills and self-esteem among elementary age children. Partners include Baltimore Design School, Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth and Perrysburg Schools.

Starting in February and continuing for three months, The Extraordinaires Design Studio® will be introduced into lesson-focused and free play periods. Students will play at being designers, following the basic three-step design methodology used in the kit to solve design challenges for their ‘clients’, The Extraordinaires. Transitioning from the game to the real world, students will then apply their newly acquired design thinking skills to the immediate environment and local community, designing solutions to a real meaningful challenge of their choosing.

The Creativity Hub will also be teaming up with Microsoft partner Doyenne360, as they enhance their Azure Cortana Analytics Suite to track the progress and measure the impact of play on 1,000 students attending Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth. They will measure the progress of both students and educators along this journey of discovery.

"Through this partnership, our hope is that kids from all backgrounds will have the opportunity to have fun, while they discover problem solving in a new way. The Extraordinaires Design Studio is perfect for this, combining experimental learning and creative thinking together in a fun, easy to use activity.” - Daphne Barlow, CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth.

“With over 1300 children taking part in this program, we are equally excited and nervous about this initiative. If we achieve the results we anticipate, these children will come away more confident and better equipped to tackle the increasingly complex challenges our world seems to be throwing at us daily.” Anita Murphy, Co-Founder, The Creativity Hub & Inventor of The Extraordinaires® Design Studio.

About The Creativity Hub
The Creativity Hub publishes games and playthings that foster imagination, empathy and self-esteem. Today over 5 million sets of Rory’s Story Cubes have been sold worldwide. Anita Murphy and Rory O’Connor, co-founders, envision a world where these attributes are valued and fostered in every individual. The couple developed The Extraordinaires® Design Studio to introduce the world of design in a playful way, offering design challenges for extraordinary clients with exaggerated needs. It launched in September 2013 to critical acclaim from STEM/STEAM educators. http://www.creativityhub.com

About Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth
Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth serves more than 11,000 youth ages 6-24 years old through seven branch locations and outreach programs in the schools and community. Its mission is to provide enriching programs for youth from disadvantaged circumstances to develop the qualities needed to become responsible citizens. With access to programs that focus on Academics, Health and Citizenship, they are changing the odds, year after year. http://www.fortworthkids.org.

About Baltimore Design School
Baltimore Design School is a public middle-high school that focuses on design. Students learn the basics of Fashion Design, Architecture, and Graphic Design. The school believes that all students, with good instruction and practice, can learn art and design skills and achieve high standards in their academic programs. It believes that its graduates will be leading designers and architects of the future who see design as a way of thinking, problem-solving, and living a productive and rewarding life. http://baltimoredesignschool.com

About Perrysburg Schools
Perrysburg schools is one of the leading, cutting edge school systems in the United States, serving K-12 students in Northwest Ohio. Research-based and innovative practices help move the mission forward: Ensuring students achieve their greatest potential. The past 4 years, Perrysburg has launched a STEM program across the K-12 curriculum so that all students can explore, create, design, and become the problem solvers of tomorrow.

http://www.perrysburgschools.net/

The Extraordinaires® Design Studio Pro announced as Winner of the 2015 Parents’ Choice Gold Award

We are delighted to receive the 2015 Parents’ Choice Gold Award from the Parents’ Choice Foundation for the Extraordinaires® Design Studio Pro, available in America exclusively with Barnes and Noble.

Established in 1978, the Parents’ Choice Foundation is America’s oldest nonprofit consumer guide to quality children’s media. Experts in learning games across America, they test and review products within a stringent criteria for awards. As a Parents’ Choice Award® winner, we are elated at receiving such an honour and is a strong endorsement of our mission to foster creativity and empathy.

‘We thoroughly enjoyed the challenges and the outcomes; there's lots of learning and play value here. But the most intriguing take-away was to realize that design can be learned: that the questions, approaches and reflection can be trained so that the process can be applied to designing anything. That is where this kit shines brightest.’ - Barbara Chamberlin ©2015 Parents' Choice

About The Extraordinaires® Design Studio Pro

Jump straight into the world of user-centred design. With the aid of our detailed visual guide, use imagination and empathy to solve extraordinary design challenges. Develop key skills as a future designer, inventor, maker architect, engineer, change-maker and more.

Practicing designers and creative teams, use the power of play to get unstuck, stretch your imagination and develop new ideas. You never know you could create something that will change the world.

At its core, design is about solving problems for people and places. We created The Extraordinaires - unique over-the-top personas with amplified human needs - to make the explicit role of empathy in user-centred design. By Solving real wold challenges for the Extraordinaires - a new home for a giant, a flying vehicle for a spy, a source of light for a fairy, or pyjamas for a werewolf, your design and empathy skills will undeniably be stretched.

Find out more about the The Extraordinaires® Design Studio Pro HERE.