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Terra Fabula - The Story of the Land

Building empathy for the plight of First Nations people, through an immersive classroom game.

This project was born out of a desire to give students a deeper appreciation of the impact of colonialism on Indigenous cultures. Terra Fabula is a play-based experience where students tell the story of an imagined Land through mapping, narrative writing and other activities. Across eight chapters they create a landscape, build a community, share resources - and then the Settlers arrive.


Information on this page is provided by the innovator and has not been evaluated by HundrED.

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Target group
Students lower
June 2023
Our vision is that Terra Fabula will give students greater empathy for the experience of First Nations people, as they study Indigenous culture and colonisation. This deep appreciation and understanding is critical to achieve the reconciliation we are striving for as a nation. We also hope that the game demonstrates the breadth of curriculum outcomes that can be met through play-based learning.

About the innovation

Why did you create this innovation?

Learning about the culture of Indigenous Australians and the impact of European colonisation is a key part of the Australian curriculum for students in Year 4. While many teachers appreciate the importance of the topic, some feel uncomfortable because of the potentially sensitive nature of the material, and others struggle to help students engage on more than a superficial level.

What does your innovation look like in practice?

Terra Fabula is designed as a stand-alone pen-and-paper play-based experience lasting 4-6 hours. It guides students through the process of creating a land (through map making), and the arrival of the first People (through narrative writing). They augment their map as they build a community, imagine the culture, and connect with the communities of their classmates. Throughout this process they become invested in the story of their People, over which they have control.

Toward the end of the game, Explorers and Settlers arrive - based on dice rolls they rename landmarks, clear land for crops, raise cattle, and establish towns. Depending on further chance, the People may continue to coexist amongst the Settlers (though some perish from disease), they may be relocated into reservations, or they may be reduced to a handful of survivors hiding in remote parts of the Land.

In the final chapter each student writes a Resolution describing how they want their story to end.

How has it been spreading?

The project is in early stages. After developing the core design last year, we have refined it to a playable version, and earlier this year piloted this with a cohort of Year 4 students. Since then we have run a second pilot with a cohort of Year 3 and 4 students at another school.

If I want to try it, what should I do?

The game is still very much in 'beta', but particularly brave educators are welcome to pick up what we have so far and try it in their classroom - we would love to work with anyone interested in doing further pilots in this way.

Beyond that, we are working to refine the materials and produce a (free) 'easy to deploy' kit over the next year or so.

Implementation steps

Playtest the game in your classroom
The material required to play Terra Fabula can be downloaded from the website ( If you are interested in helping us pilot the game in different contexts, please get in touch (

Spread of the innovation

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