Guest Blogger Caryn Swark Shares Tips and Tricks for Game Design in the Classroom

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Most games – card, board, or video – require students to think, solve problems, create, and adapt. But why not go a step beyond playing games and have students actually create games? Game design requires students to…

  • ORGANIZE themselves, their thoughts, and their information as they make rules
  • ANALYZE  information, and become very familiar with the learning objectives
  • ENGAGE with information in an active, creative way

The great news is, there are lots of simple ways to use game making in your classroom, and kids are so engaged in the process that they don’t require a lot of teacher intervention. Once they get going, their own imagination takes over and directs the process.

You can use games for a variety of purposes. Just a few assignments I’ve given around game design: an end of unit novel study board game, a video game that will teach people about a social issue, and a card game that uses prime factorization. Basically, anytime you have a topic that requires students to demonstrate knowledge about a topic, you can have them create a game.

Game design is easy and doesn’t require a lot of materials. Gamestar Mechanic is an awesome resource for video game design, and its user friendly interface teaches effective game design with minimal teacher intervention. You can have kids make up card and dice games with almost no preparation, and all you need for board games is some cardboard – you’ll be amazed what they do with it.

Remember, too, that games are meant to be played. After your students finish, make sure they get a chance to share and explore. I usually do this by having an hour long class and dividing them into two groups. For the first half hour, half of the students stay with their games to explain them while the other half of the group travels around, and then we switch.

Making games isn’t just fun and engaging for students of all ages – it’s a fantastic way to review knowledge and apply skills!

Caryn Swark is an elementary school teacher with a focus on games based learning, creativity, and arts education. Visit her online at www.gamifymyclass.blogspot.ca

Get in touch!: St Patrick Fine Arts Elementary School, Lethbridge AB, swarkc@holyspirit.ab.ca