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How to LARP in the Classroom

Updated: Jan 16

Bare with non-English teachers with this example, but can you imagine recreating Stratford Upon Avon in the classroom? Students are now physically walking the streets of where Shakespeare himself grew up. Each student has been given a character with a background, an income, and basic profile information- they get to BE this person- transported through time to imagine life as a person from the time of Shakespeare?!

If you want to know whether I believe LARPing (or Live Action Role Playing) would be an option in the classroom, the answer is YES! I wholeheartedly support this idea!

LARP in the Classroom

What You Need to LARP in the Classroom or Outdoors on Campus:

Set Ground Rules

While LARPing is doable, teachers must carefully lay the ground rules to ensure no one gets out of control and gets hurt. You need rules for combat (if combat is a part of the world your students will enter.) Here are the basic rules of combat while LARPing to give you an idea of creating a safe environment.

If your classroom isn’t the right size, do research- find the space needed. Go outside- find a field or courtyard where the room is plentiful. Utilize the cafeteria, auditorium, or gym. Combat or not, have rules and expectations for student behavior and performance in the activity.

Create Basic Character Sheets

Students need to know who they are in the world you’ve recreated to interact with it. You can assign them character sheets or allow them time before choosing who they want to be. Ensure that the characters reflect the time and place students are entering.

For historical pieces, students need a name, gender, age, occupation, background, and income. The purpose of having them be in character throughout the activity is to engage them and make them think about how someone from this place and time would act and react to various situations, places, and people. It gives them a more profound understanding than if they took a passive role.

Create the Setting

Wherever your LARPing adventure takes place, you need photos for visuals, signs, and props that give the students a feeling of being in the place and time you have designed.

Sheets make great walls, and clotheslines and pins are your friends. Maybe you know someone who is a historical reenactor who can help you create the setting and possibly let you borrow some authentic props. You will need… props and materials students can interact with.

This adds to the realism of the setting and helps students to better role play and immerse themselves into the activity. Students can even make the props earlier in the unit that you display and interact with during the Larping session.

Materials that can help your LARPing experience!

Create Activities: They will get a grade.

Throughout your setting, each place should have tasks and events for students to collaborate and complete either independently or in teams. Some stores may need a scribe or someone to deliver information.

Maybe you have a sign outside the sheriff’s office asking to help them solve a crime. Some tasks will send them on a scavenger hunt, while others may have clues to help them unlock a box. Each activity teaches them something you want them to know.

The Larping lesson is like an escape room or scavenger hunt on steroids. As students complete various tasks, they come to you and show you what they’ve done, and you mark down their grades. Depending on time constraints, you may want to tell students they have to complete a specific amount of activities to earn their “A,” and anything above that is extra points. My tip is to give them a role-playing grade. Be sure to walk around, watch, and listen to how each student interacts with the world.

Collaborate within Your Department

If more than one teacher is on board, they can help you set up and break down your student LARPing event. Teachers can be active NPCs (Non-Player Characters); they can own shops, play the sheriff, be townsfolk in need of help… Adding NPC to your LARPing event will enhance the setting and realism.

These teachers can take names of students who’ve come to their area and write a percentage of the tasks these students completed on a designated sheet categorized by teacher name. This way, multiple classes can participate, and teachers will get their class sheets back at the end of the day to give their students a grade. If everyone in your department is in the exact location, then each classroom can become a place with one or more activities assigned to that classroom.

Students are given their character sheets in their classroom and released to start the LARP at the designated time agreed upon by all the teachers involved. Each classroom would have a sign letting students know what place they are entering, and the whole event would be inside AND in a large space.

Once you have these things in place, you can reuse them repeatedly. The initial work is a lot (my advice- set it up over a summer). After that, you’ll have a blast with your students every year. This could turn into a department tradition!

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