If you aren’t using board games in your classroom, you’re missing out! Board games are an easy way to get students excited about learning. Most of the time, they’ll forget they’re actually practicing skills or learning new concepts when they’re playing board games. I’ve used board games in my class for several years for small group work, early finisher activities, review, and to help reinforce new skills. When I introduced student created board games though, it was a total game changer!
I’m sharing more on exactly what student created board games are, how to create a board game creation assignment, and how to use the board games in your classroom!
What are student created board games?
Student created board games are just that – a game that students create by designing a game board, coming up with questions and answers, and writing gameplay instructions. You may provide a game board template to your students or have them design one from scratch.
You can implement student board game creation as an individual assignment, partner project, or in small groups. Board games can be made for any subject area also:
- Math problems
- Reading comprehension
- Vocabulary terms
- Spelling lists
- Science topics
- Geography quizzes
- History questions
There are dozens of types of board games that your students could create. While it’s fun to create more intricate games, it can easily become overwhelming for both the student creator and the students playing the game. I suggest focusing on more straight-forward board games in the classroom.
Assigning a board game creation project
One of the most important steps to assigning a board game creation assignment is to ensure your students are familiar with educational-based board games. Offer plenty of opportunities to play the games in class so students are comfortable with how they are designed, how to play, and the types of questions that work well for games.
If you’re looking for board games to play in the classroom, I have over 200 board games in my Teachers Pay Teachers store!
Once your students have experience playing different board games in the classroom, it’s time to expand and allow them to get creative.
Assigning a board game creation project can be a big undertaking as a teacher. Make the process easier on yourself by providing things like templates, art supplies, and even sample questions. If you’re allowing students to choose things like what type of pawns or game advancement tool (dice, spinner, etc) they will be using, be sure to have those on hand! Keep board games available for students so they can refer to them and use them for guidance when creating their games.
Although it can be fun to get super creative and give your students lots of freedom, you may want to set some basic guidelines. Consider using a rubric for the student created board game assignment. Even if you aren’t grading the board games, it can be used as a tool for guiding students.
You can assign the project as a small group, partner, or individual project. If this is the first time you’re doing a board game creation assignment in your class, I would suggest setting it up as a partner project. Working with a partner isn’t as intimidating as working alone for some students.
Steps to Creating a Board Game
First, you’ll want to decide which skills you want students to focus on when creating their board games. It’s best to stick to just one skill so the game isn’t overwhelming and can be easily used as a study tool or review activity for a specific skill.
Once students know which skill their game will be created around, have them create an outline of how their game will be played. It’s important for them to decide on aspects of the game before they get started.
Students should decide:
- What the game board will look like
- How players will advance on the board
- What types of questions will be asked
Review their outline and provide feedback before permitting them to start on any game board creation or question writing. This will help them understand areas where they may need to be more specific or make adjustments to their game.
If you’re completing the games completely in class, set timeframes for them to complete each phase of the game creation.
Phases of board game creation
- Game board design
- Question writing
- Instruction writing
Setting these guidelines will keep students productive and moving at an acceptable pace. If they start to struggle or fall behind, they can ask for assistance. Checking in frequently is important during the entire process so you don’t end up at the finish line with games that were stalled during one of the steps.
Once the games are completed, it’s time to start implementing them into the classroom. I suggest having students “test” their games with their peers in small groups. This helps iron out any kinks and allows the creator to receive feedback. Reinforce that this isn’t a “judging” of the games, but rather a test group in order to help the creator make any tweaks and improvements that are needed. You can create a form or checklist so students can write down 3 things they like about the game and 1 thing that could be improved upon to give to the creator. This will help students receive both positive and constructive feedback.
Once the game has been tested with a small group it’s ready for use in the classroom!
Using student created board games in class
There are so many ways you can use student created board games in class. Obviously, they are great for centers, small group activities, and for early finishers. You can also use them for reviews and extra skill practice if needed.
You may find that some of the games created work really well in class. If you come across a student made game that you may want to hang onto for other classes or future years, be sure to ask permission from that student to add their game to your “board game inventory”. Not only will this be a great achievement for the student, but you can also share with other students who use that game later that it was a student created board game. Show an example of a student created game to help other students build confidence when it’s their turn to create their own games.
Do you use board games in your class? Have you given your students the opportunity to create their own games? I’d love to hear about your board game creation process! Share in the comments below!