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Kids Listen Activity Podcast, Episode 37:

This Week in the Multiverse Presents Word Tweaking

This Week in the Multiverse is a podcast of skits and stories about alternate Earths. Recommended for the middle-grade set, ages 8+. More info at This special Kids Listen Activity edition of the show springboards from a play, "The Perfect Al Capone," into a lesson on world building writing exercises for kids. Listen to the episode here
After the episode, do the activity!  Build words with word tweaking. Details below!
World Building Made Easy: The Simplicity of World Tweaking


Try these world-building exercises to help make alternate Earths for stories and for fun!


  1. 9 ¾ It! 

Take something totally common on our Earth and think about what fun thing it might be in a different reality. 


For instance, a Mini-Van may become:


  • Futuristic Earth: A hover minivan with a sassy robot driver 

  • Magic Earth: A double-wide flying carpet with cup holders 

  • Post-apocalyptic Earth: A flame-spouting, spike-covered mini-van 


What would the best equivalent be on an Old-West Earth, or a Pirate Earth, or a Steampunk Earth?


You can do this with other things, places people:

  • What would the United States be named and what sort of government would it have on a post-apocalyptic Earth? 

  • What would Justin Bieber be doing in a Steampunk Earth?


If you do this enough times with enough people, places and things, you’ll eventually come up with some ideas you really like, and a story might start to appear in your head.


2. Mad Lib It!

Transform recognizable people, places and things by swapping out words in their names. 


  • The White House could become the Pink House, The Tight House or the Fight House. Then ask yourself what sort of government would call its White House the Fight House?


When you apply this to people, historical figures with titles are always easy to start with. Just change their adjectives:


  • Alexander the Great could be Alexander the So-So. Or Alexander the Gassy

  • Ivan the Terrible could be Ivan the Warm-Hearted. Or Ivan the Kinda Intense But Pretty Okay When You Get to Know Him


Or you can attach a title to an unlikely person: 


  • Emperor Taylor Swift

  • Pope Justin Bieber


Check out for worksheets to help get you thinking!

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