The Vampire Strikes Back

I have mentioned before my vampiric nature when it comes to borrowing ideas from other teachers.  This post is my experience of teaching Luke Neff’s “story keys” idea.

Luke’s original idea can be found here

Whilst I am bigging up Luke’s ideas – I would also highly recommend his writing prompts.

In the UK it feels like we have less classroom time for instant writing or journaling as seen in the US, but this year my yr 9 class spent the first 15 minutes of every lesson completing a piece of creative writing.  I used Luke’s prompts every time.  They are excellent.

Anyway, back to the story keys idea.

It all started with these which I found at a junk shop in Rye.  My girls and I spent a car journey thinking up all of the places the keys could unlock, which villains would steal the keys and how our heroes would snatch them back.


By coincidence, not long after that I saw Luke’s story key post on Pinterest and decided I wanted to teach this activity to our incoming year 7s attending summer school.

The only snag with this activity was getting hold of 60 keys.

I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, so I went and sweet talked a few people.  First the caretakers at school, who gave me a collection of old locker and door keys.  Then my parents, in-laws and friends and my collection grew,  Finally, as I needed to get my daughter a front door key I sweet talked our local locksmith and he gave me some old keys and some rather tragic broken keys.  I ended up with over 40 keys.

Then a friend of mine who organises weddings showed me some keys on Etsy and I feel in love.

Once you have your key collection, the rest is very simple, I used some of the tiny charm keys and some of the normal ones donated by friends.  You can make the tags from paper and string or buy some.  I got these tiny red ones to match the key charms.

keys 2

I used Luke’s story starters and added a few of my own:

  • The sign read “213 locked doors.  Which will you choose?”
  • 43 locks, 15 numbers, 9 seconds, 1 key.
  • The last page of the book contained two words “Page 45”.  Underneath was taped a key.
  • The cinema was pitch black, the exit locked.  Where was the key?
  • Claudia awoke and slipped her hand under her pillow, expecting a coin, she found only a key.
  • The lock was shaped like a gun.  The barrel faced towards me.
  • The lawyer spoke quietly, “His last will and testament stated you should receive this key.”
  • Since Jacob had disappeared, I no choice but to find the key myself.
  • “Regrettably, you cannot proceed without choosing a key” he declared.
  • Perhaps it was the rain, or the darkness, but should a key glow like that?
  • The blood dripped down, pooling around the tiny key.
  • Mary Jane promised she would never give away the location, but that wouldn’t matter if she couldn’t find the key.
  • Stumbling down the mountainside, the key guided me onwards.
  • The instruction read “The key is not the key.”
  • Despite the crowds in the museum, I was the only one who saw the velociraptor’s key.
  • Like Charlie, I was nervous as I opened the wrapper, would I get the last key?
  • Jamie slumped on the roof, where was the key?
  • “Whatever you do, don’t touch the key, it’s cursed.”
  • The soldier holding the gun, stepped closer, “Turn the key, now” he ordered.
  • The key’s tag said “Thank you” on one side and “Run!” on the other.

As you can see, each key had a different story starter, meaning I got a huge variety of amazing, funny, terrifying and adventurous stories to read.

I am falling more and more in love with teaching creative writing and this activity is particularly fun and engaging.

I hope you enjoy it too.  Don’t forget to check out Luke’s writing prompts.


3 thoughts on “The Vampire Strikes Back

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