Making Learning a Game

A game lesson can be a way to explore a variety of concepts with your students.

By Cathy Neushul


Making Learning a Game

Everyone loves playing a game. Students look forward to rainy days simply because they want to have a chance to sit and play the board games you have stacked away for indoor recess time. A great way to get students to review language arts, math, and any other topic is to have them make a game of it. There are many ways you can tie a game lesson to classroom standards; it can be an activity to in which students learn how to write step by step instructions, or figure out the probability of an event occurring, or discuss proportion and measurement.

The First Step is Having Students Play Games

Before you have students work on their own projects, you should get students thinking about the different components involved in creating a game. You could start with a game like Monopoly. Have a student come to the front of the class and read the rules and instructions. As you go through the rules, have students identify the verbs used to describe what they are expected to do. At the end, have students list the rules and help them elaborate on their responses if they do not give enough information.

You should introduce students to a variety of games with different rules and strategies. Any game that involves dice could be a way to discuss how math and probability are related to games. Students could figure out the probability of rolling certain numbers. If, for example, you were introducing the game Sorry, students could discuss how important it is to roll the right numbers, and figure out the probability of doing so.

Chess would be a perfect way to get students thinking about how strategy is involved in game playing. Students could talk about the ways that you have to think ahead in order to play a successful game of chess. Once you have introduced a variety of games, you can get students started on their own projects.

Students Create a Game

Creating a game can be tricky. Make sure that you give students some guidelines before they start.

  • You need to remind them to come up with an idea of the type of game they would like to create, and write a description.
  • It is a good idea to have students discuss their idea with a group. This way they can identify areas they haven’t considered and get a better vision of what they would like to do.
  • Once they have a basic idea, they should draw up a set of rules. Once again they should share with classmates to make sure their instructions are on the road to being complete.

Now It’s Design Time

Students can use poster board, cardboard, or any other type of hard paper to create their game. It can be as big, or as small as you would like. You can ask students to design their game board using measurements that they will describe and following a pattern that they are able to identify. Students can bring in or create their own game pieces. Once they are done, they should write a description of their game and their rationale for creating it. Then comes the fun part. They need to play their game with others to help to refine their rules and make sure there is nothing they would like to add.

If you would like, you could have students create games that would provide a review of particular topics. The let the games begin. What follows are more game-related lessons.

Game Lesson Plans and Activities:

Creating a Board Game

In this lesson students discuss how to write directions and create a board game. It provides a thorough overview of the concept of writing instructions.

Jeopardy Review Game: Civilizations Through History

While this lesson provides a review on a particular topic, it could be modified for use with any concept. It provides an overview of how a game can be a review.

U.S. Government Game Shop

In this lesson students play a game to learn about U.S. Government. You could play this game with your students, and use it as a way to model game design.

Way to Go: Create a Roadmap Game

Students create a travel game in this lesson. This would be a great way to get students to think of the many creative ways they could design a game.


Writing Guide

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Cathy Neushul