Favorite Lessons: Box of Destiny

A wonderful question appeared on one of my ELA social media groups the other day, “What was your favorite lesson/unit you created?” and immediately I thought of the (say this in a trumpeting voice): BOX OF DESTINY!

I created this prior to hearing the term ‘role play’ — not being a Dungeons and Dragons person and prior to my time in Azeroth, this idea came organically. While teaching humanities and Ancient Rome, I first create the Voices from the Grave unit, whereby students would draw a card giving them a role in Ancient Rome: it required hours of research on my part, and was a joy to make.

Over the years, I put something new on the box–it has many layers.

Later, turning to Ancient Greece, I created the Box of Destiny. The idea is this: make a box and present with great fanfare and mystery to students*: the box contains 4″x6″ cards with the name of a Greek god, goddess, creature, spirit, etc. The interview questions are the same. From those questions, students research their character and present in first-person. This is important: explain to students if they are male or identify as male and get a female character, they may change, etc., however, writers do not write in purely their own gender or about their own gender. Some brave souls will take a character who is a different gender from themselves, and it is my hope as students’ awareness of gender identities continues this is not an issue. They can work in pairs, but independent presentations are encouraged. They can choose a modern retelling or update story, change the form, but the first-person narrative is key.


After the research, draft their short narrative, time to make props and backgrounds begin. The final presentation includes full role-play gear and a reading of their story. Students in the audience applaud, of course, and then there is a Q&A session and feedback.


*Don’t skimp on this. 

Caution: Satyrs brings students to some questionable information. Be aware of age-appropriate sites.

Some of the characters:

  • Athena
  • Zeus
  • Aphrodite
  • Hypnos
  • Pan
  • The Moirai (good for a team, or have one presenter create a one-woman show)
  • Artemis
  • Zephyr
  • Persephone
  • Demeter
  • Hades
  • Poseidon
  • Eris* (my personal favorite)
  • Circe
  • Nemesis
  • Helios
  • Cronus
  • The Muses/Calliope
  • Eros
  • Prometheus
  • Rhea
  • Cerberus
  • Medusa
  • Ares
  • Dionysus
  • Hypnos
  • Hephaestus
  • Apollo

I am trying to go through years of digital files to locate the original cards, but they’re not hard to make in Word. Use card stock and laminate to give them gravitas. Rubrics? Examples? Well, you will want to update them, of course.

If you have any questions, feedback, or comments, ask away!

Box of Destiny Rubric 2017