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Using Twine To Explore Environmental Preservation

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Michelle Jilesen

Michelle Jilesen

About the Author

Michelle is an Educator with a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Education from UOIT. Michelle has lead coding workshops with students in JK – Secondary school. She enjoys camping and being outdoors. One of her passions is to inspire girls to take an interest in math, science and technology.

App Development, Computer Fundamentals, Digital Storytelling
Lesson Plan


Students will learn about the impact of climate change on the environment and explore other environmental concerns. They will be writing an interactive story that involves the choices we make and their impact on the environment. Before we start it is important that we acknowledge the sacred connection that Indigenous peoples have to the land, and to Mother Earth. Indigenous peoples believe that all plants, animals and everything in the environment is of equal value, and that nothing and no one is less valuable than the other. While creating an interactive story students will be developing their programming knowledge and using CSS and HTML languages. This module should be completed after the Introduction to Twine Module or if you already have a general working knowledge of Twine.

Note: We want to thank Jaime Fortin who acted as the Cultural Advisor for this module. Jaime is a student at Trent University working on a degree in Indigenous Studies. She is from Chapleau Cree First Nation, a small reserve in northern Ontario.

Learning Goals

The learner will be more comfortable with programming and storytelling by the end of this module. They will display their knowledge on environmental issues and the impact humans have on the environment in their interactive story.


In Twine, a passage is a narrative unit, a building block for full stories.
The process of telling and structuring a story.
Cascading Style Sheets is a styling language used for coding the presentation of a document in a markup language.
Hypertext Markup Language is the standard markup language for designing web pages.
Uniform Resource Locator is a web address and is used to identify any resource on the internet.
Mother Earth
The earth considered as the source of all its living beings and inanimate things.
Traditional Indigenous Knowledge
is the basis for local-level decision-making in many communities. It has value not only for the Indigenous culture, but also for scientists and planners striving to improve certain aspects of the area.

Guiding Questions

  1. Can you list some ways that humans impact the environment? Is it always negative? What ways can we positively impact the environment?
  2. Why is it important for us to honor and respect the environment?

Curriculum Links

This module aligns with the science curriculum and ties into environmental science units. Environmental concerns will be explored and can be examined on a chemical or biological level to link to more expectations. It also can be linked to the English and computer science curriculum through digital storytelling.


Twine – Download Twine

Non-Computer Activity

Select a story from How Things Came To Be Written by Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley | Illustrated by Emily Fiegenschuh and Patricia Ann Lewis-MacDougall (available through Inhabit Media). An introduction to Arctic creation myths for children of all ages.

From the origins of day and night, the sun and the moon, and lightning and thunder to the creation of Arctic animals such as caribou and Arctic waterfowl, this completely revised and re-edited edition – originally published as Qanuq Pinngurnirmata – shares nine classic Inuit creation stories from the Qikiqtani Region of Nunavut.

  • Ask students what this stories teaches them about the environment and how Indigenous peoples value the environment?
  • What can we learn from these stories?

Computer Activity

For this module students will be creating an interactive story. They will use their vocabulary from studying environmental issues within their narrative. This project offers students freedom and encourages them to build their programming knowledge. The main focus of their story should be the environmental issue they choose and tie into the impact humans have on the environment. Teachers can add specific details they want the students to include in their digital story and incorporate Indigenous teachings and knowledge.

Research and Planning Activity

Start this module off by watching this video about causes and effects of climate change. It will act as a quick review of climate change and human impacts on the environment.

Students will choose an environmental topic to research. This will be the topic of their digital story. While researching they should look for information on human choices and impacts on the environment. Some possible topics are listed below. Teachers can add and remove topics to meet their course expectations.

  • Air pollution
  • Water pollution
  • Soil pollution
  • Fossil fuels
  • Biofuels
  • Renewable energy
  • Non-renewable energy
  • Overfishing
  • Overhunting
  • Shoreline development
  • Greenhouse gases
  • The Greenhouse effect
  • Invasive species
  • Initiatives to conserve energy
  • The earth’s spheres

Students should also ask themselves what it means to love and cherish the environment and see what traditional Indigenous knowledge they can incorporate into their story. Many times in environmental issues it is important to combine both traditional Indigenous knowledge with western scientific knowledge to come to certain conclusions. An example is the Aboriginal people of a certain region might know the migration patterns of moose for the past few decades whereas Scientific Western knowledge may only look at numbers and not fully understand why.

Once students have researched their topic and thoroughly examined human choices and impact they should start a rough plan of their story. Things students need to consider when planning their story include how they want it to start, what vocabulary they need to include, what choices they will have in their story and their consequences, and how the story is going to conclude or wrap up. Included with this module is a planning handout for students to organize their information. The students should have their research and plan reviewed by the teacher before starting the Twine portion of the project.

Getting Started

  • Open Twine and start a new story.
  • Name your story something relevant to your topic, this can be changed later.
  • Change the “Story Format” by selecting the arrow beside the story title. Select “SugarCube 2.21.0” 
List of five Story Format available with the format SugarCube 2.21.0 selected
  • Start typing out your story and linking passages together. Remember to link passages type the title in double square brackets [[ ]]
  • The little green rocketship will be on your starting passage. To change this to another passage hover over the passage and click the three dots and choose “Start Story Here” 
Updating where the story starts in Twine. There is a menu that displays delete, edit, play and ellipsis. Below the main menu is a drop down menu where the story can be set to start and the size can be adjusted.

Changing the Default Appearance

Once you are happy with the layout of your story and have an ending for each path you can start changing the appearance of your story. Click the arrow beside the title of the story and select “Edit Story Stylesheet”

There are a variety of colours that can be used in CSS and HTML programming. W3Schools has a list of colours.

body {
  background-color: MediumSeaGreen;
  color: white;
  font-family: Futura,Impact,Helvetica,sans-serif;
  font-size: 120%;

Line 2 changes the background colour to Medium Sea Green.
Line 3 changes the colour of the text to white.
Line 4 sets the fonts. You will want to pick multiple fonts incase someone does not have the font you have programmed.
Line 5 makes the font size a little larger.

a {
  color: LightBlue;

This script changes the link colour to Light Blue.

a:hover {
  color: LightSteelBlue;

This script changes the colour of the links when you hover over them to Light Steel Blue.

Changing an Individual Passage’s Appearance

To change the appearance of an individual passage you will need to add a tag to that passage. To add a tag double click the passage and select “+Tag” under the passage title. Name the tag something that relates to the passage. For example I have added a tag called “Water” because the passage talks about oceans and I might want to use this tag on other passages that include the topic of water.

.water {
  background-color: CadetBlue;
  color: Coral;

To program a class for water we need to have a period in front of the name and then format the same way we did our default settings.

Adding Images

To add images to you story there are two different ways to do it. You can add pictures from the internet by adding the URL to your script. The problem with this is you are limited to images on the internet and you do not have control over the sites they come from. If the site is no longer up you picture will disappear. The other way is what I recommend because it gives you more control over your images. When you publish your Twine story to file you are choosing a location to save it to. Create a folder to save your story in and save the images you are planning on using here as well. Now we can call on these images within the passage we want them to appear.

<img src="ocean.jpg">

This script has the image named ocean.jpg appear. If you test your program your image probably won’t appear. To see if the image is going to appear you need to publish to file then go to the folder where it is saved and open the story in a web browser. I noticed my picture was too big. The size of the image can be adjusted.

<img src="ocean.jpg" width="50%">

This script sets the size of the image to be 50% of the original.


Students should present their stories to the class or go around trying each other’s stories out. This will give the students an opportunity to showcase their work and learn from each other’s interactive stories. When students discuss their story with others they should start by explaining why they want to protect the environment and what it means to them.


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