Basic Tools for Planning and Designing Classroom Games

Planning and designing classroom games doesn’t require boxes of custom Meeples, fancy boards, or a degree in graphic design. Rather, I recommend having the following stash on hand to help you think through your design:

  • Deck of playing cards: card decks are great! You can use suits to represent teams or events, use cards face down to represent a hidden and abstract map, or use cards as randomizers in the place of dice.
  • Dice: in addition to number generation, you can also use dice as markers with count numbers, using the face numbers (pips) to represent the number of turns left, the amount of resources a player has, and so on. I recommend having at least a dozen six-sided dice and one set of seven polyhedral dice (Fig 1).
  • Post-it Notes and index cards: create simple maps, organize a narrative storyboard, and re-create an abstract layout of your classroom so that you can visualize teams and movement.
  • Whiteboard and plain or graph paper: sketch your game. I recommend plain or graph paper since they encourage using the entire sheet and breaking lines.
  • Pennies: pennies are great as general-purpose markers! They’re versatile despite their size and also have some weight and feel substantial (tactile elements are essential, which I’ll cover in a later post).
Figure 1: Polyhedral Dice. Photo by Armando Are from Pexels