It’s Saturday. Your long-awaited day off at the very end of the year. A new ELT-related article pops up in your blog news feed. 

  • C’mon, it’s Saturday! Who reads blog posts on weekends, anyway? Go to Card 2.
  • Sounds fun, I’ll give it a quick read. Go to Card 1.

There is one type of reading activity that works miracles in terms of student focus and engagement: choose your own adventure stories, or reading mazes. These activities offer students choice and variety, making them essentially the captains navigating the story. Can you think of any other reading activity where students are so willing to read the text again and again until they find all the endings?

I still remember the first maze I brought to my second-year linguistics students. I found it in a photocopiable resource book at the British Council library, and it was love at first read! Since then, I’ve built my own small collection of mazes. Finding good ones is challenging; they need to combine level-appropriate vocabulary and grammar structures, thought-provoking decision-making, and ideally, serve as a springboard for speaking, writing, and further classroom activities.

I’ve already shared a few reading puzzles and mazes on this blog,

and today, I’d like to present my new holiday-related reading maze, Machu Picchu Adventure

How-to tips

If you have ever tried to create such reading activities, you know that the process is quite time-consuming. It requires not only a good story (or several story paths in one) but also a lot of focus to avoid mixing up the paths and to keep the story flowing.

With LLMs, the process of story path creation is a bit easier, as you can bounce off ideas. However, ensuring consistency still falls on you.

A tip: If you choose to use an LLM to help you in the process, go for the raw model (not the chatbot) where you can set the temperature. The higher, the better. 

My Machu Picchu adventure has a more complex structure than I originally planned (see below). Once you introduce a llama into the plot, you never finish the story. There are also a few twists and some Indiana Jones moments.

A tip: Start with the endings first when creating a reading maze for your students. This helps keep you on target.

The maze is designed for upper-intermediate+ level students. It includes quite a number of phrasal verbs related to traveling and adventures, so in addition to a good story, it provides good language material to use further.

The story has three outcomes, which differ from traditional choose-your-own-adventure endings; they serve as starting points for students’ own stories.

I’ve also created a digital version to play on the computer. Technically, it can be played offline, though you’ll need Wi-Fi for setting scene add-ons, such as the YouTube video and Google Street View. You can download the html file, along with the paper-based version – check the Links and Resources section below.

Fancy playing a game? Click the image below to open the maze in a new window.

Procedure:

1. Set the scene: To help set the scene for students, I’ve included a wordless 1-minute video from UNESCO and a Google Street View link. It’s better to see it once than hear about it a thousand times, or so they say.

2. Group students. Once the scene is set, you have a few options for how to group students:

  • Pairs or small groups: Most engaging for discussion. Each group gets a full set of cards, or you may act as the card holder.
  • Whole class: Students discuss as a class and tell you which card they choose next.
  • Solo. Students work individually and share their stories with their peers at ta later stage.

The key is to choose the format that best suits your class size and resources and helps maximise student discussion.

3. Continue the story: When students reach the final card, they’ll be prompted to continue the story on their own. Again, this could be a writing assignment to be completed individually, or students can create their stories together, depending on the grouping format you’ve chosen. 

If you want to try something even more creative, get your students to continue the story in the choose-your-own-adventure format. 

* * *  

Do you have any favourite reading mazes or puzzles? As always, I’d appreciate your feedback if you try this one with your students!

Links and Resources:

Paper-based version: Machu Picchu Adventure Cards.pdf (pdf) (click the link to download the file)

Play online: Machu Picchu Adventure Reading Maze (click the link to play the maze online) 

Play offline or in your learing environment: Machu Picchu Adventure Reading Maze (html) (click the link to download the file)

Try other mazes:

The Holiday Maze (download the paper-based version on the British Council website here)

2 Comments

  1. Dipped into this the other day – you had me at Choose Your Own Adventure! My favourite books growing up. This one will become my new example for Year 7 classes. Cheers!

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