Story Starters—A Deck of Cards for the Young Imagination

In our book Imagination First, Eric Liu and I write about Oblique Strategies, a deck of cards created by musician Brian Eno in 1975: “Each of the over one hundred cards contains what Eno calls ‘a worthwhile dilemma’—a concise, cryptic prompt….meant to give direction.” Today, I bring news of another novel deck of cards, this one aimed at children: the Spark Your Imagination Story Starters.

The Story Starters, produced by family-run educational toy provider MyToySmart, are cards “that include a large assortment of open-ended…scenarios that are specifically designed to kick a child’s imagination into full gear,” the press release states. Initially created by a company owned by two Canadian mothers, the deck is meant to improve children’s skills of communication, critical thinking, and problem solving. Its deliberate simplicity activates their cognitive functions.

Interested parents should know that two versions of the Story Starters are available, for preschool- and elementary-age kids.

Lincoln Center Institute has long supported the intersection of learning and play, as well as open-ended educational activities in which there is no right or wrong answer. The Story Starters appear to offer just such an experience for young people, one that engages them and, at the same time, develops their cognitive abilities. Each card provides the child with a “start,” and then he or she is free to wonder, think, imagine…

My only suggestion: In the spirit of the digital age, why not follow the lead of Oblique Strategies and turn the Story Starters into a handy iPhone app?

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