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Kids Listen Activity Podcast, Episode 14:

This Week in the Multiverse Presents Video Games from Other Earths

This Week in the Multiverse is a podcast of skits and stories that aims to find laughs and thrills in the idea of alternate Earths.  Recommended for the middle-grade set, ages 8+.  This special Kids Listen Activity edition of the show takes clips from past episodes to help set up a guided lesson in creating your very own parallel earth! Listen to the episode here
After the episode, do the activity! Create your own alternate world - and evil Santa. The activity is below. 
This Week in the Multiverse Kids Listen Activity Podcast Activity
World Tweaking 101: Put a Goatee on It


This Week in the Multiverse is a podcast of skits and stories that aim to find laughs and thrills in the idea of alternate Earths. It’s geared toward kids old enough to read middle grade fiction, which is typically 8 to 12, but there’s some wiggle room there before 8 and after 12, depending on the listener/reader.


In the process of doing a podcast about the multiverse and writing the middle grade novel, ME VS. THE MULTIVERSE, I’ve thought a lot about how alternate Earths get made. You might call the process world tweaking—it’s like world building, but different. I get into these differences and other details in the longer video version of this lesson at, but suffice it to say that World Tweaking is what it sounds like – you take our world, tweak it in certain ways, and voila, you've got an alternate Earth.


One of the easiest and most fun techniques for making an alternate world is something I like to call “Give It a Goatee.” (Inspired by the famous Star Trek episode where the crew of the Enterprise meets the evil version of themselves from the Mirror Universe and the evil Spock has a goatee.)


Making a character their opposite creates instant conflict and is a great tool for character development. It's also simply a fun activity!


Of course a mirror world doesn’t have to be about good and evil. You can make other stuff the opposite too, like gender or personality. And you don't have to limit this to people. You can hold up the mirror to places as well. In my middle grade novel coming this August, ME VS. the Multiverse, the main character visits an alternate America that never won the revolution, so instead of being an independent democracy, it’s still a British colony.


And THINGS are fun put through this process too. Instead of a hair dryer, a hair wetter. Instead of a swimming pool, maybe a sand pool. You get the idea.


So why don't we practice putting a goatee on some stuff? 


Making Evil Santa:


To put a goatee on Santa, let’s take it step by step. You can download the worksheet version of this from my site at


  1. Name: Does this evil Santa still call himself Santa? (Maybe Krampus?)

  2. Physical characteristics: Does he still have the pot-belly? Does he still have the bowl full of jelly and the beard and the hat? Are his clothes the same colors? 

  3. General demeanor: Angry? Or is he still jolly but in a creepy, scary way? Any other traits that stand out? Is he smelly?  

  4. Background? How did he become evil Santa? Who were his parents?

  5. Relationships: Is there an evil Ms. Claus? Does he have friends or co-workers like elves working for him, or maybe something more appropriate to an evil Santa, like goblins? 

  6. Enemies: Who wants to take down Evil Santa?

  7. Goal (Ambition): What does Evil Santa want? To end Christmas? To STEAL toys from kids?

  8. Conflict (Problems): What obstacles stand in the way of Evil Santa reaching his goal?

  9. Philosophy: Why does Evil Santa do the awful things he does?

  10. Strengths: Magic?  

  11. Faults: Is his fondness for cookies more of an uncontrollable addiction? 

  12. How he sees himself:

  13. How he’s seen by others?

  14. Sense of humor (or not): Wouldn’t it be creepy if his “ho ho ho” was an evil “ho ho ho?”


You can run through similar exercises for places. Like the Evil North Pole. Ask yourself:

  1. WHERE is it? The dessert? 


  3. What SIZE is it? 

  4. WHO OCCUPIES THE SPACE? Evil Santa and Evil Mrs. Claus and the Goblins and evil Santa’s pack of flying raccoons? 


  6. What sorts of ROOMS and OTHER AREAS does it contain?  

  7. WHAT HAPPENS THERE? The goblins make stink bombs and slingshots and other dangerous things for kids? 


Lastly, think about holding a mirror to objects. For instance, what does Evil Santa ride? A flying hearse? A Hummer? What does it do and how does he use it? 


Once you put a goatee on other people, places and things, the rest of your alternate Earth will come into clearer focus. 


And that’s just one of many way to start an alternate Earth. In coming weeks, I’ll get into other methods you can use at, and I’ll share a few on a future episode of the Kids Listen Activity Podcast as well. 


I’d love it if you could share what you’ve come up with! Use hashtag #kidslistenactivitypod to post a photo on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

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