Why Ninjas Look After Their Sisters

I had another great afternoon at St. James COE Primary School last week. We talked about a crucial element of stories: goals and obstacles.

A cool thing about stories is that big, cosmic goals can often hinge on small actions. “A few friends have to destroy some jewelry” doesn’t sound like the plot of an epic — but if that jewelry happens to be Sauron’s One Ring, you’ve got the plot of Lord of the Rings.

The kids came up with some huge overarching goals, like “Become a ninja” or “Save the world.”  They came up with some much more modest goals, like “Look after your sister” or “Pack lunch for work.” Then we brainstormed ways the huge goals could hinge on the little ones:

Ninjas must protect the innocent. Looking after your sister could be the first step in learning to do so.

If you don’t pack lunch, you’ll be hungry at work and not be up to doing your job. And if your job is to be a superhero, your rumbling stomach might distract you from saving the world.

Goals sorted, we talked about what obstacles might pop up, and how we’d deal with them:

If you tried to pack lunch but your cupboard was nailed shut, what would you do?

Look in the fridge!

What if the fridge had frozen shut?

Melt it with your heat-vision!

What if the melting ice flooded your flat?

By the time we were done, we had created some truly epic stories. JRR Tolkein, look out!

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