Game On

In general, playing board games are a fun way for students to engage with peers and learn a variety of skills and topics.
Creating the games can offer unique STEAM opportunities, and getting feedback for the games offers the ability for advancement and growth.  Join us as we describe our journey, and tell you how you can participate too.  Come play with us!
Board games can be used in multiple ways in educational institutions for cross-curricular learning.  Playing board games creates a unique hands-on learning experience that meets the needs of a variety of learning styles.
In addition to playing board games, giving students the opportunity to create and construct their own board games meets all of these goals and amplifies them. Creating games themselves fosters creativity and innovation, encourages independence and mastery of a topic, and provides an amazingly fun environment for learning.
Also, students learn from playing the games, but the multitude of benefits achieved by making games is lost.  Teachers can incorporate time and supplies for making games, but current technologies and innovations make STEAM opportunities available for creating games and offers multiple opportunities for tech and engineering exploration while also learning about the subject of the game in conjunction.   Our students created a game library by creating some board games.  We used a variety of art media and methods to create boards and designs for the games.  We also used 3D printing technology for creating game pieces and steps for the pieces to jump on.
Board games were used to help students master a variety of topics, from parts of speech, literature concepts and novel comprehension to math and science topics.
 The games created are ‘tester’ games that other classrooms can request to play as part of their lesson.  Their feedback and constructive criticism was used to improve on the game, which offers other students the opportunity to play the game and test their knowledge while also problem-solving technological and engineering issues.  Our students have had their games tested in real life situations, and received the integral feedback and be able to improve their games.
Other schools can request our games to be part of their lessons.  This website will teach and  guide other teachers  to build their own games. Their games can also be listed on this website. Martin J. Gottlieb Day School will help facilitate the connection of schools that have more technology available to them to help schools with less technological opportunities, in turn aiding them in the creation of unique high tech pieces, and also to encourage growth-mindset practices in a collaborative and fun environment.


Learning the parts of speech starts in early elementary school…by the time they hit MS, they know the majority of the parts except for complex adjectives, adverbs, and pronouns.  There might be a few other new terms or higher level skills involved with the prepositions and conjunctions, as well.  We covered a multitude of standards that are listed here.
These cross-curricular lesson can be modified to include a variety of standards. Math and visual art standards are  some of the standards taught while creating the language art games.

Language Arts

Learning Goals for Language Arts: Students worked on one or two of the following parts of speech and create a variety of questions to show understanding of the terms. They created 8 classroom charts (one for each part of speech) which included definitions, explanations and multiple examples… The next step was to come up with a concept that they all could agree on…some were basic board game ideas of moving pieces around the board, while others came up with much more complex ideas
Once they came up with their concept, they began to create the questions to accompany their game…They had to have all questions approved by me…they had to be in certain format (multiple choice, true/false, or fill in the blank).
They discovered that creating questions that were challenging enough for the players was much more difficult than they had anticipated. This took about 3 days of class time.

One of the requirements on the game rubric was to use the 3D printer for one part of this process…some used it to make game pieces, some to make card holders, some to add decor to their board and some for balls to be maneuvered in their game.
Once they completed the “research” part of the project, they shared the charts with the class and received feedback in the form of compliments, questions, and suggestions. Next they chose were assigned a part of speech to create their games…



Student Reflection

At Martin J. Gottlieb Day School, students have “blogfolios”. A blogfolio is a portfolio of their work on a blog. Teachers from kindergarten to second grade post student’s work on their blogs. In third grade, students take ownership of their blog. They learn how to post their projects to their blog.
With parents permission, the blogs are open to public to comment. Comments need to be approved before they are published. Families and friends comment on students blogs. This helps encourage student’s writing.
Students were given a rubric for writing their reflection.
 The first blog entry is sample of Jack’s blog from third grade in 2013. The second is an entry from Jack in 2017.

        2013                                2017

Here is one more sample of a student reflection:

Allie B.

Game Reflection

In Language Arts we all created a game with a part of speech that our teacher gave us. Before getting the part of speech for the game, we all researched a different part of speech. Austin and I got verbs. We got a poster and wrote everything you need to know about verbs. My job was looking up action verb, tenses, and helping verbs. Austin did linking verbs and the definition of a verb. When we all finished we presented. The action verbs and helping verbs weren’t hard, but the tenses were challenging. The present, past, and future tenses were confusing, but now it makes sense. I learned that present usually ends with an “ing”, past usually ends with an “ed”, and future usually starts with will before the verb. I’m glad I got verbs because I didn’t know about those before.

Later, we assigned the part of speech for our game creation. I got adverbs! My partner for this process was Julia, and she had adjectives. The first job we had to do was make sixteen questions for adverbs and adjectives. I made eight questions for adverbs and Julia did eight for adjectives. Then we came up with a game idea. I thought about the tv show The Wall and thought we could create that T.V. show. Julia wanted to make a board game, so we combined them. Then we had to think about a game name and theme. For the theme, I came up with candy. Then we needed to come up with a game name. Julia thought it would be cute to use an adverb and an adjective. I came up with the name Spectacularly Sweet! Then, I did the game pieces using Tinkercad so that they could be printed on our 3D printer. I had to measure each piece to make sure they would fit and squish into the places they needed to be. While I was doing this, Julia designed the board. When I was waiting for the pieces to be printed, I made the instructions. Then Julia printed out the questions and cut them. The last step was creating The Wall. I printed out pieces to be glued on it ahead of time. All I had to do was make the sides and put bags on the bottom for the balls to go into. After I finished hot gluing all the pieces on, we were done!

Once our game was finished we had to create the rules to play. First, pick a number where you want to drop the ball from. Then pick up a card and answer the question. If you get the question correct, then pick up a green ball and put it on top of  circular tube that you picked earlier and let go. If you get the question wrong, pick up the red ball and drop it from the top of the number on the wall that you picked before. The ball will fall into a bag with a number. That number will be how many steps your character will move. Then, move your piece on the board either forward, if it’s a green ball or backwards, if it’s a red ball that many spaces.  If it’s a green ball move it forward. If it’s a red ball move it backwards. The goal is to get to the end to save Kisses, our game mascot! The most difficult part of creating the game was figuring out the sizes that each piece had to be. I had to measure the board for The Wall, see how many pieces and how big they have to be, then test it out.  The easiest part was coming up with the name of the game. All we had to do was come up with a theme and base the name on it. My favorite part of creating the game was coming up with the game pieces, even though they were hard, it was still enjoyable. I liked coming up with the donuts and figuring out how to put sprinkles on them.

When I played the game I created, I thought it was fun. It didn’t always go the way I planned when I dropped the ball because it sometimes didn’t go in the bag. I realized since there is no cover in the front, it could easily bounce out. This incident occurred every so often but not all the time. I also saw that the ball got stuck between the game piece and the edge of the wall. I didn’t like that there wasn’t a lot of pieces for the balls to go bounce off of. If I could change something about my game, I would put more game pieces on the board of The Wall. I would also make them smaller so they can be closer together and have more options to fall through.

I believe this game is the best for middle school students because you learn the answer to  the questions in middle school. I feel like not a lot of fifth graders know about quantitative adjectives and manner adverbs.  I think the questions for the game are advanced because it’s going into deeper meanings of adjectives and adverbs. In elementary school your learn what an adjective and adverb is, but in middle school you learn about them more in depth.

I think this is a reasonable project because you receive a deeper understanding of your part of speech and other parts of speech when playing the classmate’s games. It also teaches partnership and how to solve problems. On Tinkercad I had to test game pieces multiple times to make sure they were the size I wanted. It also teaches you to think about the problem ahead of time and then figure out how you can make it possible. It can also be helpful for middle school students to learn about adjective and adverbs and have fun at the same time! In conclusion, I enjoyed creating this game and learning more about adjectives and adverbs.


In math, eighth grade geometry students were handed the Game-On rubric. The rubric explained the expectations of the project. The rubric was essential. It allowed the students to be as creative as they wanted to be and still meet the requirements of the game.
Students had a choice to work in groups or by themselves. They were also able to choose the target market  of the math game. The game could be made for kindergarten through eighth grade.
The role of the teacher was to facilitate, proof questions and instructions and problem solve.

FAIL- First Attempt In Learning. Failure was inevitable and student took it with great stride. They had to redo the board, 3d printed pieces  and directions several times before it was correct.
The 3D printed pieces were challenging since the 3D printing was a new skill learned. Some of the obstacles were to make the spinner work and fit the lid to the box that holds the cards.
The Most challenging part of the project was writing the instructions. Students were given the example “How to Make  a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich”  to help them learn how to write instructions.  They had to write clear accurate and concise procedures for their instructions.
This project combined  language arts, math, visual arts and engineering.

Go to Thingaverse to download 3D printed pieces.


Students had a variety of tools to create their game logo, game board, dice and cards. Google Draw is a free with a Google e-mail. Procreate is a design app for the iPad. The cost is $9.99.The size of the board game is 11″ x 17″. This size gives the teachers and students the ability to run test prints. The final prints were made at Fed-Ex/Kinkos using cardstock. Then they were glued to illustration board.

3D Printing

Students used Tinkercad and the app, Morphi, to create their 3D printed pieces. Tinkercad is free online tool. In tinkercad, you add ans subtract shapes to create 3D objects. The age to join Tinkercad is 13. We have school accounts that students use.
Students learn how to use Tinkercad by following tutorials . Tinkercad is great for fourth grade and up. Once the design is created, students can send the design as an STL file to their teacher.

Some 3D printers are open others are closed. Closed printers are better for schools. This prevents hands getting inside of it while it is running.
We have three 3D printers for 100 students. This helps with the time management of the prints.
Martin J. Gottlieb was able to purchase the printers through donations and grants, like the DeWitt E. & Vera M. Hooker Fellowship Grant
The filament is from Flashforge. It costs $29.00 Flashforge uses a specific diameter spool holder. A universal spool holder for $17.99 makes it easier to use other vendor’s filament on spools. PLA os the preferred filament for our school. White filament is purchase and decorate using Sharpie Oil-Based markers, Medium Point, Assorted Colors, 5-Count $8.00
The first project students make in Tinkercad is a key chain because they learn the important 3D printing techniques making it: merging items together, measuring  and creating holes.

These techniques gives them to create their game pieces.
  • The signature is MERGED onto the key chain
  • The hole is made to hold the chain
  • Measurements are given as part of the rubric

Morphi can be used in all grades, including kindergarten.Students can draw in it and the app turns their drawings into 3D printed game pieces.3D printing takes a long time. Items are tweaked to make printing go faster. Changing the fill will change the printing time. Less fill equals faster and lower quality print. More fill equals a slower and higher quality print.
Our rule is that if it takes  more than four hours to print we may pass on printing the piece. However, there are a lot of tricks to reduce printing time
Once the piece is designed, the teacher brings it into a program called Simplify. Simplify is $100. With one click, you can get the STL ready to print. Simplify comes with two licenses. Play with the fill setting and infill percentage in Simplify to speed up or slow the print in addition to changing the quality of the print.Simplify also inform the user of the print time and how much filament will be used.
Students learned to troubleshoot their 3D printed pieces. An example is that the plastic that held the arrow (on the spinner) was too thin and continued to break. They students had to engineer a way for it to spin. Other failed prints were warped card holders and pieces that had parts that were too thin.
The pieces were revised a few times which helped encourage the engineer design process:
  1.  Identify the problem
  2. Identify criteria and constraints
  3. Brainstorm possible solutions
  4. Generate ideas
  5. Explore possibilities
  6. Select an approach
  7. Build a model or prototype
  8. Refine the design.