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20 Ways To Play 20 Dreams

In Your Classroom

Girl in Classroom

20 Dreams in Education 

Karen Stallard, the creator of 20 dreams initially trained in performing arts and worked in Theatre and Education. Karen recognises the importance of fresh ideas, new energy and creativity in the classroom and provides some examples on how 20 Dreams can be used in:

Drama Sessions


Creative Writing


Develop EQ Skills

The Drama Department

20 Dreams is a great drama game and can be played as an ice-breaker game, warm up game or for creating some new activities for your drama session.

Below are some ideas to use the 20 Dreams cards to bring imagination and fresh ideas into your drama session.

These ideas can be adapted for all ages. Just remove some of the more complex emotions for younger actors! And of course feel free to be creative and come up with your own ideas of how to use 20 Dreams in your Drama sessions.

Kids in a Drama Session

1.  Play 20 Dreams

Play a game of 20 Dreams with your drama students with them acting out their dreams.

Use a timer as the enthusiastic thespians will enjoy centre stage!

2.  Show Some Emotion

Each drama student picks an emotion card randomly. 

Start the improvisation with each drama student playing a character in the emotional state written on their emotion card.

At the end of the improvisation the group works out who played what emotion.

3.  Fairy Tales & Other Stories

Split into groups of three drama students

Each drama group picks three random picture cards

Spend 10 minutes spend 10 minutes creating a fairy tale, with the 3 pictures, in three scenes, a beginning, middle and end.

The story is rehearsed and then performed in front of the other drama groups.

4.  Create a character with the picture and emotion cards

Spread the emotion cards and picture cards around the space.

Invite all the drama students to pick a picture or emotion card they like.

Use the card as inspiration to build a character. Ask questions like: How old are they? What might they wear? What food do they like? etc.

As the drama students move around the room invite them to greet one another in character.

Hot seat each character.

Split into drama groups of four, give each group four picture cards 

Each group devises a play which includes their characters and the four picture cards.

5. Warm Up game

The drama group sits in a circle

Select three picture cards and one emotion card.

The first drama student starts with “Last night I had a dream”

Each drama student says one improvised sentence to build up the dream

All three picture cards must be referred to and the emotion conveyed.

The dream ends with "And I woke up feeling…."

Everyone says together the emotion named on the emotion card.

6.  Ice-Breaker Game

Everyone finds a space in the room

Use both picture cards and emotion cards

The leader randomly picks a card and calls out the card: eg. Be a sports car, or be hysterical 

Everyone becomes the picture card or emotion card for a few seconds

Use a whistle to freeze people before they move onto the next card.

Add Emotion to Your Drama!

Add Emotion to Your Drama!

The Creative Writing Department

Creative Writing Class

Karen, our 20 Dreams creator loves creative writing.  20 Dreams can be used in numerous ways to help young or older creative writers tap into their imagination and create something uniquely theirs.


It is also a great way of helping unconfident creative writers realise they can create something amazing! 


Here are some literary challenges to try to develop your creative writing skills.

Creative Writing

7.  The Limerick Challenge

Pick a random card for the whole creative writing class to work with or allow each creative writer to choose their own picture card to inspire a Limerick poem.


There once was a man from Cheam

Who had an incredible dream

He woke up and cried

I’m really inspired 

And left with a bag and a dream.

man walking
3 Picture Cards from 20 Dreams: Water, Tap, Tree

8.  The Ultimate Haiku Poem

Invite your creative writers to write a Haiku poem by selecting 3 picture cards

In Haiku you have three lines to create a poem 

The whole poem has a total of 17 syllables. 

The first and last lines have 5 syllables. 

The second line has 7.

Water, Tap, Tree


The sea crashes down

The tap drips with a slow drop

alone the tree stands

9  The Song Lyric Challenge

A fun way to encourage creativity is to try our lyric challenge.

Ask your creative writers to change the lyrics to Twinkle Twinkle little star by replacing the 'star' with one of the picture cards.

Only use the picture cards that have one syllable names.

Always begin your song with the words Twinkle twinkle little…… if your creative writing class is enthusiastic then you can sing your new Twinkle twinkle poems at the end of class!

Twinkle twinkle little cat, now I know just what you’re at, glaring at me from afar, lying underneath my car, twinkle twinkle little cat, now I know just what you’re at.

Popart cat

 10. The Dream Creative Writing Challenge

Choose three picture cards and one emotion card


Invite your writers to come up with a story that is 4 sentences long, each sentence should include a reference to one of the cards


Eg. Picture cards: Castle, Stocks, Rose

Emotion card: Surprise.


I dreamt that I was locked in a castle.

Down below I could see a beautiful girl locked in the stocks.

I threw a rose out the window and it landed at her feet.

She twisted her head, smiled, turned into a butterfly and flew away.

3 Picture Cards from 20 Dreams: Castle, Stocks, Rose

11.  Write 20 Dreams

You may need 2 packs of 20 Dreams depending on the size of your creative writing class


Each creative writer randomly picks three picture cards and one emotion card.

They then have 20 minutes to write a dream story using all the picture cards but not mentioning the emotion card.


Starting the story with “Last night I had a dream” and ending with “And I woke up feeling….?” The emotion needs to be expressed in the story.

In pairs or three’s, each creative writer reads their story to the others, the others have to select the correct emotion card in the story.


Any brave creative writers may want to read their story to the whole group!

3 Picture Cards from 20 Dreams: Gun, Plane, Tennis Bat

12.  Beginning, Middle, End

Each creative writer gets three pieces of A4: Beginning, Middle and End.


​Select three picture cards from 20 dreams for your whole creative writing class to use. 

Place the picture cards in the order, Beginning, Middle and End.


Each writer then creates a story using each picture card as inspiration for each section.

A short paragraph is written on each A4 page.

All the A4 beginning paragraphs are all passed to the left

All the A4 ending paragraphs are all passed to the right


The new stories are compiled in the right order and read out to the whole creative writing class.

Creative Writing Challenge: Begining, Middle, End

Write from the Heart!


Develop Your EQ Skills with 20 Dreams

The following exercises can be used in registration time, for extracurricular activities, detentions or any other moment where you think your class or student might need to take a breather and talk about how they feel. They are also great exercises to use in social science or psychology classes to explore difference and the language of feelings and their expression.

13.  2 Player Game of 20 Dreams

Play a collaborative game of 20 Dreams with a single student who may be struggling


Playing a game of 20 Dreams will help build a relationship, break down inhibitions, encourage creativity and develop emotional language skills,


Playing a game creates teamwork and equality between you and the student

14.  Quiet Reflection

Invite the students to choose two emotion cards from the 20 emotion cards in the pack that feel relevant to them today.


In their own time, they can create a short story or cartoon using the two emotions for inspiration, let them know that they can make it autobiographical or allegorical.


Leave time for each student to share their story.

15.  Art and Emotions

Give each student 5 pieces of A4 paper


Ask them to fold each piece into four and then open the paper out again.


​Invite the students to draw anything, symbols or words that come to mind when they hear an emotion card being readout. Use a new box on the A4 paper for each emotion card.


Shuffle the emotion cards then read out the top four emotion cards, leaving space in between each emotion for the drawing to take place. 


Emphasise that this is not about creating a perfect piece of art, it is about expressing something on paper, which can include scribbling.


For the older students, you may want to ask them to draw with their non-dominant hand, which will encourage the right brain to be more active.


Repeat the exercise until all the emotion cards are gone.


Invite the students to talk about the experience. What do they notice about their images? Were there some emotions that they found difficult to do?

16.  Likes and Dislikes

Show or describe the picture cards one by one 

Invite people to move to the left of the room if they like the image, or to the right if they don’t or the middle if they are indifferent.

Make sure you let them know there are no right and wrong answers and go with their gut feeling.


Encourage participants to just be interested in how they react. 

17.  Start The Day

This exercise can be repeated weekly or even daily, remember structure and continuity is important.


It may take a while for students to get into this but once they get it they will love it.

You may need to print off enough sets of emotion cards so each student has their own set to use.

Invite each student to pick an emotion card that represents how they woke up feeling today.

Go round the class to check in with everyone and acknowledge each emotion, students can just show their emotion card or pin it to a board if they prefer. 

EQ Skills
Classroom Lecture

18.  End The Day

This exercise could be repeated weekly or even daily, remember structure and continuity is important. It can also be paired with Start The Day along with some reflection around how some students feelings have changed during the day.


You will need to have enough sets of emotion cards so each student has their own set to use.

Invite each student to pick an emotion card that represents how they feel at the end of the day.

Go round the class to check in with everyone and acknowledge each emotion, students can just show their emotion card or pin it to a board if they prefer.

19.  The Emotion Emoji Tree

This is an exercise that can be done over time, each student is given a large piece of paper to work on. 


You can even do a giant class emotion tree if you are feeling adventurous!


Invite the students to draw a tree with at least 20 branches on it, each branch is named with one of the emotions from 20 dreams, if they want to add even more emotions then they can just add another branch.


Now invite the students to add some emoji fruit to their trees, on each branch they can hang their own emojis to represent the emotion of that particular branch. 


It is best to do this with cut out circles which they can stick to the branch rather than draw directly onto the paper. 

20.  Adding Colour

Request a black and white version of the game.

Invite students to choose one emotion card and one picture card.


Give them a range of colours to colour the cards.


As they are colouring you might want to go round and ask them why they chose the picture card and emotion card.

Help them to think about any connections they can make. E.g I chose the snake because they scare other people. Affirm their choice even if it seems negative. 


End the colouring break by asking if their picture card and emotion card could speak what would they say to them today.

Promote Emotional Wellbeing

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