Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Introducing Game Design as Part of an Integrated Project


The opportunities for learning through the use of digital gaming are diverse and massive. The speed and ease in which basic game development can be achieved using apps such as Sketch Nation can provide a platform for outstanding cross-curricular projects and really make an impact on progress, standards and pupil independence. This blog post describes one project (upper KS2) which could easily be adapted to suit Key Stage 1 or expanded to meet the needs of Key Stage 3 pupils, and to support almost any topic/subject. 1:1 use of iPods enabled maximum pupil engagement but fewer devices could have been used if pupils collaborated in groups.


The initial objective of the project was to design, produce and promote an iPod game based on an element of our current topic. In class some of the children wanted to link the game to last term’s World War 2 topic but most chose to base their game on the new topic of African wildlife and diversity. The whole outline of the project was shared with the children at the outset so they could plan and organise their work. The basic requirements were that the children would need to design and produce an original game, create a persuasive and informative marketing display on their learning wall, create online multimedia promotional material on their blog space, and to present and try to sell their game to a class of year 5 pupils at a showcase event.  This would lead to the culmination of what was ultimately a business and enterprise project.

Game Design

The FREE app Sketch Nation was introduced to the children. It is a quick to learn and easy to use game design app which allows users to produce their own unique digital game.  After a brief demonstration pupils were encouraged to explore the features of the app and begin to think about the game they wanted to design. There are simple and advanced levels of the app and most of the pupils chose to use the advanced level. Pupils  were able to design their own characters, a range of obstacles and enemies and platforms and backgrounds to suit the setting of their game. It is possible to create graphical content in the app, to scan in artwork or to use downloaded and edited images.  The extent of how much content be developed is vast. Scoring systems, power-ups, frequency of obstacles, effects of collisions and so many more features are all completely editable. The quality of the completed games was excellent. Some were extremely challenging, some were fun and some were a little easy. In a short space of time the children produced exactly what they wanted. Below are 3 examples of games created by the pupil's using Sketch Nation:

Preparing the Promotional Material

Linking back to previous work on persuasive writing, pupils researched different types of advertising and features of branding and promotion. They were able to create their own display on their learning wall using their own content. Every aspect of their work was also posted to their own blog space using the Posterous Spaces app.

Class 6W's advertisements

Class 6A's advertisements

Titles and Logos

Following research in the App Store, pupils designed their own app logos and titles. Most chose to do this by hand with felt-tips (Where do all the reds disappear to?) but some used Brushes on the iPod. Font ideas for many came from

A pupil's advertisement for their game

A pupil's advertisement for their game

A pupil's advertisement for their game


Posters were made in Strip Designer and Pages where the templates proved to be powerful tools in quickly creating high quality work.

Video Adverts

Pupils swapped devices to film each other playing the games so that they could capture examples of the excitement of the game play. iMovie was used to make advertisements and this allowed easy editing and combination of images,video,captions and titles. Soundtracks were created in Garageband, the smart composition aspects of this app, along with the excellent drum machine and sampling features, make it easy to compose effective music to suit any purpose. It doesn’t take a specialist to produce high quality original compositions with Garageband.


Pupils having access to and ownership of their own blog space has been a central part to the success of many of the iPod based projects. The ability to present to and receive feedback from an audience has a powerful impact in terms of quality, pace of output, promoting independence and resilience along with a sense of pride and ownership. Every element of this project was posted to the Posterous blog quickly and effortlessly with the iPods. Posters, logos, videos, instructions, examples of gameplay and even the initial plans were explained by the pupils as part of the blog post. QR codes linked to any video content were displayed on each pupil’s own learning wall.

Presenting to an audience

As the culmination to this project (which was completed across one week in under 3 hours) the children from the adjacent classroom (year 5) were invited to a New Games Launch Event. The visiting pupils viewed the learning walls, engaged in discussions with  game designers, scanned the QR codes to view the online content and had the chance to test the games. Each visitor had 5 game tokens and was able to “purchase” their favourite games. This session was focused, very interactive and proved to be an exceptional opportunity for promoting speaking and listening, questioning and answering. It also provided valuable feedback to the pupils on the quality of their game designs and promotional material.

Year 6 pupils fighting for business from Year 5 pupils.
A year 5 pupil spends one of his tokens to play a game.
Cross Curricular Links

Although each pupil’s starting point was a history or geography objective such as “Demonstrate an understanding of the main threats to wildlife in Africa” or “Recognise the implications on the Battle of Britain in WW2” the opportunities that to expand learning in a project like this are numerous. There were many opportunities for writing in terms of persuasive texts, summarising feedback and reporting on the New Games Launch Event. During the event records of scores were kept for each player of the game allowing investigations into averages and data handling opportunities. There was a significant impact of the pupil’s ability to orally present and explain their work using appropriate styles and vocabulary. The integrated of the iPods has allowed them to become a tool to support and enhance learning. The pupils only use it when it is needed and will often choose other methods of presentation and research.

© 2013 Mr Andrews Online Ltd


  1. hi
    im really keen opn this idea and to start wouls like to set up a wall with qr codes. We have recently got a set of class ipads and i am struggling to find a good app that we can use to set up a blog. Posterous looks great but its only available as an ipod/phone app any good ideas am hitting a wall.

    1. Hi Simon,

      Posterous is still available to download on an iPad. It's just not been designed to fit the iPad screen - you'll still have the same function. Other good blogging hosts are workpress and blogger.


  2. Brilliant idea! Really inspiring and I would like to do something like this with my students. I'm amazed that you did it in a week! I think it's a great way to stimulate children's learning and the learning wall is visually stunning and shows off the kids' creativity. I love it!

  3. Thanks Conchifm. I appreciate you taking up your time to leave a comment. It would be great to hear what you get up to with your students.

  4. Thanks for the suggestions. Have had a go with kidblog but suspect we will hit problems with the qr codes as we need a login. Will investigate your ideas.

    Have you had any problems justifying this use. I can clearly see the benefit and have been promoting the skills and capabilities but I have had a lot of problems with a lack of vision from teachers who are questioning where it fits with their learning intentions. At present this is prooving to be quite a stumbling block that no matter how I have approached is just not getting through.
    Anyway will keep fighting the good fight.

  5. Hi Simon,

    Thanks for the comment. To justify the use of mobile technology I would argue that children need now, more than ever, to be skilled in the use of digital technology - these are the skills they will need for the future. The children love using these devices and therefore they have more of a passion for learning because the lessons are fun and engaging. The use of the devices can allows the children to be more be creative, increase the opportunities for speaking and listening, allow them to become more of a critical thinker, learn how to solve problems for themselves, develop skills to become an independent learner, teach them how to become responsible citizens in the digital world and allow them the ability to be able to drive their own learning.

    As educators in the 21st century learners surely we a right to teach children 21st century skill and we have to make decision which tools (technology or otherwise) will prepare our children for the future.

    Keep up the good fight, you have many people on your side. I would recommend twitter - it's a great place for CPD.

    Best Wishes,

    Mr Andrews

  6. Thanks for the advice i'll have a look at twitter. You know how things happen in schools and I think what you say (I couldnt agree more) is quite a big shift in thinking for some. It is essential but still creates the fear in the tried and tested why should I change crew!
    Look forward to hearing about more projects

  7. Hello David,
    When I found your blog, it felt like I'd struck gold! I have nominated your blog for the Liebster Award! Please check out my post to see the guidelines for accepting this nomination!

  8. Great blog and article.. thanks buddy..

  9. Great Read! Thanks for the informative post. We at Hassenbrook Academy are trying to embrace technology in learning and feel Academies in Essex should! And this is very persuasive

  10. Brilliant job you are doing here, the ability to present to and receive feedback from an audience has a powerful impact in terms of quality, pace of output, promoting independence and resilience along with a sense of pride and ownership.