Make your own adventure

Make your own adventure

We certainly post a lot of cards – Oracle cards and Tarot – at the Sanctuary of Joy.
Anyhow, today we want to talk about a different type of cards: these are the ‘Propp cards’. They sometimes are also referred to as ‘story cards’ and are based on the work of Vladimir Propp. Who was Vladimir Propp?

“[…] Vladimir Yakovlevich Propp was a Soviet folklorist and scholar who analyzed the basic plot components of Russian folk tales to identify their simplest irreducible narrative elements […] Vladimir Propp broke up fairy tales into sections. Through these sections he was able to define the tale into a series of sequences […]. Usually there is an initial situation, after which the tale usually takes the following 31 functions. […]”
[source: ]

These functions are those events that seem to be recurring (sometimes all of them, sometimes only a few of them) in all fairy tales, such as ‘the hero departs from home’ or ‘the hero is tricked’ or ‘the hero is helped by magic (an angel, an animal, a magic item he was given by a fairy…) and so forth.
These events do not have to follow a specific order, and that’s what makes the stories varied, but typically they do occur to designate turning points.

So, in the ‘Propp cards’, each of the cards represents one of these ‘functions’ of scenes. With such a deck, you can pick a set of cards (typically between 5 and 10) and then arrange and re-order them to construct a story line, which you can then enrich with the actual details (names, colors, places, etc).
This is a very fun game to play with your children: a game which is collaborate rather than competitive, which stimulates fantasy and free association of ideas as well as socialization and growth, outside of the logic of winning and losing that is so embedded into almost everything (including games) these days.

In the photo you can see the cards I prepared some time ago – I got the nice images from this site. Yes, that site also offers a ‘software’ version of this concept, but I really invite you to leave all technology behind, if you can, and just go with the ‘old school’ version and did what I did: I downloaded the images, then I printed them, cut them to the same size, added a colored paper of the same size for the back and finally plasticized them. Your mileage may vary.

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