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Let's Tell A Story: Story Cubes in Art Therapy

by Lauren Fallat, MA LPC ATR-BC

How to Improve Executive Functioning Skills, Problem Solving Skills, and Interpersonal Communication

To tell a story, is to present an imagined, observed or lived experience containing characters and events mapped together. Storytelling occurs in various forms. One can tell a story verbally, using words, songs and poetry. One can also utilize non-verbal forms of expression to present a narrative, such as through writing, drawing, sculpture, painting, music, and dance. To tell a story is to have a storyteller organize ideas, thoughts, objects, symbols, emotions and actions together in a sequence that is witnessed by the observer or listener.

Storytelling is often a process in which we are able to express a feeling, idea or action urge in a safe and protected way, behind the guise of a character or set of characters. From a therapeutic perspective, it is not the content of the story, but the needs and feelings expressed by the characters that becomes important in gaining more information about ourselves and our child or client. When we listen and respond to a story, we are communicating that the problem or worry or need being presented is worth hearing and worth understanding.

Rory’s Story Cubes are a great way to introduce children and adolescents to the art of storytelling. The story cubes described here are sets of different dice or cubes that contain various symbols, images, actions and ideas, such as a lightbulb, a tent, a plane or a footprint. Rory’s Story Cubes are a great way to combine structure, chance, concentration, language skills and imagination. The goal for using these cubes is to develop a new strategy for storytelling by becoming inspired by the dice that you roll. Based on the pictures that one rolls, a character, problem, plot twist and/or resolution can be created, edited and rewritten endlessly.

Here is an example of an art therapy directive that may be given in a session:

“Roll the dice and create a story made up of words, images, movements and/or songs inspired by the symbols on the dice.”

Ways to encourage creativity and engagement with this activity in session or at home:

  • Consider the genre for your story. Will it be a mystery, a drama, a comedy, fairy tale, fantasy, myth, poem and or scary story?

  • Identify the number of cubes that one will roll. We will roll___ number of dice.

  • Add the option to re-roll one or more dice

  • Encourage the storyteller to have the character exhibit at least one feeling in the story.

  • Create a story that could not happen in real life

  • Make the story interactive by having turns where each person goes back and forth in creating one sentence at a time for the story

  • Encourage the storyteller to consider a problem that the character must overcome or solve

  • Pick a one-word theme for the story. This story will be about _______.

In an art therapy session, you may also choose to create comics, story boards and picture books based on the cubes. A child or adolescent might also be inspired to create their own story stones. Following the idea of the cubes, you can have your child collect smooth stones or purchase them online in which they are all similar in size, shape and smoothness. You can invite your child to paint or draw symbols and images onto the rocks as one activity and then create stories as an additional activity.

This is a great way to support planning and sequencing skills, communication skills, emotion identification and problem solving skills in your child or adolescent. The benefit of working with an art therapist is that your child can collaborate with their therapist on ways to change behaviors, negative thoughts or beliefs or understand their emotions in the safety of metaphors and storytelling.

Below is the link in which you can find the Rory’s Story Cubes discussed in this blog post:

To Schedule your first appointment, click on the Boo an Appointment button. There you can select the day and time that works best for you.


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