My 2018 year in reviewRead More
(This game is no longer available for download. If this changes, we will happily update this as we loved the game!)
Many years ago, monsters and children played together in the Land of Dreams. Slowly, something started to happen, and the children started withdraw from play. That is when the Nightmare took over, turning the Land of Dreams into dark, and making the monsters who lived there seem scary.
Well the monsters have had enough. They want their Land of Dreams back. They want to play once more with the children in their land. They have to travel through children's dreams to fight back the Nightmare and reclaim their home. They have to face scary foes like Math Teachers and Clowns, and outsmart the monsters of the Nightmare in their own game.
The premise of the game is delightfully entertaining. This is a game that can be tailored to any age group or experience level. The character creation system is very simple to pick up, and allows for very customized monsters. They do offer pregenerated characters as well, which are very diverse and fit well within the story.
The system itself is very simple, offering 4 attributes, 16 skills and over 20 monster abilities as well as equipment to help in certain situations. They use a D6 system, which makes math very simple for younger gamers, and at most have 3 dice involved. Everything on the sheet is easy to interpret and has flexibility on use. In order to win, you have to meet or exceed the difficulty level.
The book lays out dream sequences for you to play through, and encourages you to create new ones as well. Many of these are childhood scenario dreams, where you meet scary teachers, have skateboard contests or food fights. You can play through the ultimate childhood battle in the game. Many of the scenes give options for non-combat solutions as well, which makes this ideal for very young children.
This game has the potential to be very fun for any type of gamer. It is easily tailored and has many different options to add to the plot given. I hope they expand the game in the future. I will be reviewing the play type once I get my group to play through it.
Edited by Michael Hansen
First Fable is a roleplaying game tailored specifically to children around the age of 6. It is designed to be run by a GU (grown-up), who leads the characters through the story and helps the players understand the rules. There are many gamers who are now parents and looking to introduce their children to their roleplaying world. This book is set up to do just that! The wonderful part about this book is that the book is written so even grown-ups who have never done roleplaying games before can pick this up and play it.
The book starts off with the basics of roleplaying and why roleplaying can be beneficial to children. Language, math skills, emotional growth and communication skills are all built up in the process of telling a story. It’s also a safe way for children to work out social situations they may not know how to handle. We, as the GUs (Grown-ups), can help guide a child through situations they may face in school or the playground when we aren't there. I will go into this in more detail later in the review.
Character creation is always the hardest part for new players. So how in the world do you get a 6 year old to make up a character? Well, that is where this system comes into play. There are 4 different character types outlined in the book, all of which are easily identifiable to children: a pirate, a warrior, a fairy princess and an animal keeper. Next, you get to pick any 3 things at which your character shines. They then choose one thing they are not very good at. After that, they can pick one item that does something very special; whether it is an animal that talks or a singing crown, it’s whatever they want. They can play characters that cross the different types of characters. Younger players may want to play themselves, which is fine as well! Challenge older kids to come up with reasons why they have their special items. Remember: always assist children with writing where needed!
The rules for challenges and resolutions are also very simple. D6s (six-sided dice) are used with 4s, 5s, and 6s being winning dice. A challenge is determined as an action that has the chance of changing the story. These actions should always have a dice rolled with an action the player cannot actually do in real life.
Tasks are simple actions that help the story move forward. Most tasks are actions taken by the players that can be accomplished fairly easily. These are storytelling opportunities where the players can give details about what their players are doing.
Special things are actions that involve the use of the unique item they possess. Each item gets stars, which the player can use to accomplish extraordinary tasks. It may also require a dice roll, depending on the action, but it is up to the GU to decide.
This system is one of the simplest starter systems to work with. It is open-ended, so children can pick whatever they want for any of the categories. Some kids may elaborate on their items or abilities, others may keep them simple. Always encourage children to elaborate as best as they can. They may need help with words or actions that they want to do. As a GU, help by asking them questions and helping them find the word they are looking for.
The age group I played with was 4, 5 and 6 – so, the younger end of the spectrum. When creating their characters, all of the kids worked together and helped each other. A couple of the kids were not good with writing, so the older kids helped them. I also had them draw their character. The kids I worked with modeled their characters after themselves. Some used their real names, others used a character name. For their official character sheets, I did write down what they told me, so that I had a reference, but allowed them to keep their original sheets. I ran the starter story in the book, and the kids loved it right from the start. The system for rolling dice was easy enough. With a few reminders, the kids quickly figured out how to roll their dice. The children all waited for each player to make an action, and helped each other with the story. They also helped remind each other what was written on their sheet.
Overall, this book was perfect for younger kids. It was challenging enough to make them think and engaging enough to keep them interested for about an hour, which is long for the younger age groups I worked with. I would recommend this book to parents and teachers alike. Experience in gaming is not necessary, though it may help. Just remember: it is not about the rules but about the story the kids tell.
Edited by Michael Hansen
So why use RPGs in a classroom? What benefit does it bring to their education?
Roleplaying games, or RPGs, have traditionally been associated with teenager or adult crowds and will generally follow complex stories and include things like violence or other themes. Recently, there have been several RPGs have been created with young children in mind. These RPGs use simple stories and mechanics to help introduce younger children to the world of RPGs. As a grown up, or GU, leading these children through these stories, you play a very important role. To understand that role fully, it is good to keep in mind the skills that RPGs help to strengthen in children. RPGs have faced many differing opinions and have worked hard to overcome these stigmas and present themselves for what they are, a powerful tool that can be used to help teach children. As a GU, you are a very important teacher to every child.
Kids learn best through play. Period. However, there is a difference in quality of play, directed play and free play. RPGs offer a safe environment for children to explore social situations with the benefit of an adult there to help them navigate as needed. The quality of play can be as rich or simple as you would like it. If you are new to this whole gaming thing, keep your story easy to follow. Base it off of fairy tales that the kids know and recognize. Free play options in the world will allow children to explore naturally, using language to navigate through their story. This may take some practice to get used to, but adds a great benefit to the children's experience.
In a classroom setting, RPGs offer a much needed break from traditional classroom expectations. They provide enriched learning in math, language, social and emotional skills, and imagination. RPGs offer a very quick way to grab the attention of young minds whose attention spans have not been fully developed and uses several different approaches to help lengthen those attention spans. We will discuss each of these areas separately now.
Math skills are the most apparent skills in this game. The use of dice helps with counting. Children need to figure out: 1) how many dice to roll, 2) what numbers are on the dice, and 3) how many dice in the roll succeeded. These are 3 very important , basic skills a child will benefit from in the long run. Counting dice. Pass/fail rates and one to one counting skills are all included in these skills children learn how to 'count out' as well. This is a skill that can be forgotten, but is a very important skill in understanding what counting is actually for. To do this, tell the child, before they roll dice, how many successes they will need to win their roll. Then have them count out how many dice meet the winning condition, then compare their numbers. The children go from counting and comparing greater or lesser numbers to counting up numbers and comparing those. The math skills for younger children are very complex and build up early skills for more difficult math later in life.
Language skills are one of the most underrated skills that roleplaying games utilize. Children have to learn to tell stories and describe actions, which is hard for adults to grasp. Letting children do this at a young age helps to build up those skills early. Sequencing stories is a great language building skill and will help children follow grammar rules and story understanding in the future. Children love to tell stories to begin with. Think of how big of an impact that would have if their stories actually did something. Being an active character in a story and affecting the other characters around them is magical for children. It encourages them to use language to describe the world around them, what they are doing, and how they are interacting with everything. This gives them control over the story, and in turn, control over language. To have words and sentences actually have effects on things is powerful.
Social and emotional skills are extremely important for young children to have. Children use play to work out social situations or emotions they may not yet understand; it is a safe way for them to explore these feelings. Learning how to cope with the emotions they feel, empathize with others and recognizing things that may bring out these emotions are all skills that can be strengthened through RPGs. Everything from bullying to gender rolls can be explored and, as the GU, it is a great opportunity for you to help answer questions for your children or observe and see how your children will react. These are the skills that kids will remember and take with them the rest of their lives. You play a very important role in leading them through this, and can help them become stronger individuals in this area.
The imagination is the last skill, and one that is largely forgotten in this day and age of standardized testing, common core and fitting square pegs into round holes. Imagination drives innovation. Kids need to have a safe place to explore new ideas that may or may not work, without the fear of failure. Kids should be allowed to try and connect the dots in a story in new and interesting ways. Sometimes it will work, sometimes they forget a step and it fails. Encourage them to keep trying. By encouraging our kids to solve problems in unusual ways, we are openly encouraging them to think outside the box. New technologies, innovative practices, and many other successful endeavors stem from the creative mind. Kids are natural builders and thinkers. Sometimes they think SO far beyond our comprehension that we see it as wrong and discourage that type of thinking. As educators, that handicaps children in the future. There are many child inventors, and all of them had an adult that encouraged them along the way.
RPGs also fulfill another crucial role when used correctly. Many school districts are adopting the Common Core curriculum standards. Leaving personal opinions out of it, when used correctly, Common Core can help guide educators on teaching children of every age group. RPGs are, by their very nature, adaptable. RPGs can be used to teach in compliance with these guidelines without stifling children's creativity. You are able to tailor skills and information to what you want to teach at any level. Older children can use dice to figure out more complicated math structures. They can also write out their own stories to share with their classmates.
RPGs present a very diverse and useful tool in every GUs arsenal in teaching children many different things in a fun and new way. There are many different ways to present information, and stories can be tailored to each child's interests, development progress and needs. RPGs have come a long way in the past couple of years, with many new games coming out with children in mind. It will be well worth the time to find one that suits your needs.
Written by: Crystal Mazur
Edited by: Mike Hansen
Comic books have been around for a long time. They carry a stigma for some: they are blamed for illiteracy and delinquency, and are wrongly seen as a sign of uneducated minds. Time has proven this to not be the case, but the perception exists with individuals. This is a missed opportunity for exposing children to different types of literacy. Comics can reach out to children who have difficulties reading. While it may not be a form everyone will like, offering the experience of reading comics gives kids one more option in their reading arsenal. As an adult, it is important to understand the basics in the world of comics. This can be a very confusing adventure. Here are some tips to help adults navigate the world of comic books.
Make it special
Reading should be special for both the parent and the child. It is a chance for children to use their reading skills to understand the story that is taking place. Reading should be a fun experience and children have a natural desire to read. Go to a local comic store or book store with your child and involve the sales people in helping find the perfect comic for your child. There are comics that can be perfect for kids as young as 3.
It takes all of 3 minutes tops to look through the comic book before your child does. If it makes you uncomfortable, you have the right to look for another comic book that fits your comfort levels and still excites your child. Marvel does have a rating system, but it is only mandatory for Marvel Comics and optional for all others. There is NO standard for rating comics!
Ask for Help
Whether you are in a bookstore or a comic store, the salespeople are there to help. Many times the stores will have a special area for early readers. If they don't offer comics for young readers, talk with them about possibly doing so, and feel free to go to another store. Never feel like you have to wander aimlessly around a store looking for what you want.
Talk with Other Parents
You would be surprised to discover which of your friends read comics. Or which parents use comics with their kids. They may have wonderful suggestions for you, or be willing to help you find the perfect comics for your child. Ask around your local community for comic book stores, or groups who will help you out with comics. There are parent reading groups and cafes in my area that teach children about comics and help parents get excited about it.
Learn HOW to Read a Comic Book
Many parents decide not to use comics because they don't understand HOW to read them. Once you get some practice in it, it does get easier. First, basic boxes go from left to right, top to bottom on the page. If there are odd shaped enclosures, follow left to right, top to bottom. One good way to look at comics is that if you read it over and it makes NO sense, scan the page to figure out the direction. Most of the time the art will support the direction of the words. If you are having trouble still, the art sometimes leads your eye to the panel that should follow it.
Talk to Your Library
Many libraries carry comics, or will carry comics if there is enough interest in the local area. They can always borrow from other libraries, so you don't have to track down older issues in a mad chase around town. If your library does not carry comics, speak with your librarian about acquiring them.
Know Your Issues
There are different TYPES of comic books?! Why yes! The two major types are issues and trades. Issues are a series of stories and are generally paper covers. Trades are a larger collection of issues and tend to have a sturdier binding. For children, issues are easier to handle, but rip very easily. Trades are much sturdier but more expensive, and younger children have a harder time holding them. Pick which one is best for your child.
Take Time to Teach Kids How to Handle Comics
Comics are fragile, especially the issues. You will need to take time with your child and teach them how to hold their comics to make sure they last as long as possible. They will rip comics and they will fall apart, so don't freak out. Some simple repairs can be done to help them last longer. Once the comic has seen its last days, don't throw them away. Reuse them as comic themed art for your playroom or bedroom.
FREE COMIC BOOK DAY!!!
The first Saturday in May is Free Comic Day! This is where local distributors or community organizations provide free comics for everyone. You can visit www.freecomicbookday.com to find local stores in your area. Many stores will have costumed actors (CosPlayers), cake, sales on merchandise and movies running all day, celebrating the importance of comics in literacy.
Where Else Can You Find Comics?
I'm glad you asked! Here are some links to find awesome comics just perfect for your family! DriveThruComics is an online distributor that offers both PDFs and print on demand! They always have offers going on for free comics or sales on comics. DriveThruComics