Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Mr. MEN Re-write Assignment 


So I got an assignment idea for this semester for my educational game design module. I am increasingly focusing less on game design per se in teaching this module and trying to have learners experiment with generally thinking of what makes young people learn and with challenging what already exists. I am co-teaching this semester w a colleague whom I consider really strong on teaching the game design part (and who is also a great pedagogue). I may use this idea during our upcoming Creatopia event so more students can try it (not just mine).

Basically, people would read a Mr. Men book and modify the ending or storyline. There are some particular ones I would love to modify. The exercise would be as follows

  1. Read the book title e.g. “Mr. Nobody” or “Little Miss Helpful” and predict/imagine what the story might be about. Note this down.
  2. Read the book and note down your reaction to the book. What did you like or dislike?
  3. Re-write the ending or any part of the book to make it more educational or to make the book promote different values that you consider important. Note which age group you are targeting 

What do you think? I think the focus of Mr. Men books on character traits of individuals would be helpful for game designers as they build characters in their games (though not all my students develop games with special characters)

Thanks to Amy Burvall for pointing me to the whole Mr. Men in history lesson plan that Michael Gove had critiqued in his Mr. Men speech 


  1. Hi Maha – an interesting and worthwhile assignment I would think – do let us know how it goes>
    An assignment type that might also intrigue you has been suggested by Fiona English in Student Writing and Genre… she suggests that rather than setting a range of ‘re-gurgitative’ assignments for students, we require them to choose an assignment already done – say an early anthropology essay – and then ask the students to re-present it in another genre – say, an episode of The Simpsons or a short story or a play. The students then develop genre understanding whilst they also deepen their knowledge of their topic as they must decide which bits of the earlier assignment they want to dramatise in the new genre…

  2. Interesting… I’ve been following your discussion about the Little Men books. I remember reading the Timbuctoo series (same author I think) as a kid and then reading the same books to my kids. My kids didn’t fall in love with them the way I did. I’ve never really thought about why. If I can still find them, maybe I’ll get a couple of my kids to do your assignment – Might learn something 😉

  3. Maha, the assignment certainly sounds fun. In particular, I image situations where students rewrite the “best” ending for a story and compare how the author told the story versus themselves. Thinking about ways students could focus on character choices that lead down separate paths would be a fun way I’d tackle that.

    Also just thinking of this exercise as an activity to scaffold into game design later.

    Just a few initial thoughts. 🙂

    • Yeah 🙂 I have had students “hack” fairytales before after I give them examples of e.g. Cinderella finding the prince arrogant and falling for his valet instead ; or of a Snow White told from her stepmother’s perspective. But I like the idea of the Mr. Men series rewritten because students won’t have as many preconceived ideas about them, I think, and I honestly think many of them can have so much more pedagogical potential than they currently do

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