Category Archives: Let’s Make Games

My TEDx Talk: Let’s Make Games

For the past couple years I’ve been teaching game design to kids. As part of TEDx Jersey City I presented my work and some of the games my students created, explaining how the curriculum helps students develop higher order creative skills. Game design is an alternative form of teaching math, story telling and art and in the end, it’s a lot of fun.

View video at TED.com

Read transcript →

See posts about individual classes →

My TEDx Talk Transcript: Let’s Make Games



Back in November ’13 I gave a talk at TEDx Jersey City about the game design class I’ve been teaching to children in northern NJ. Below is the transcript of my talk, including some of the images I used to showcase the work of my students.

Watch the video →

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Let’s Make Games: Board Game Quest


For our final class in “Let’s Make Games” we created board games based on the idea of a quest. We spent a couple of Friday afternoons drawing a maze, creating playing pieces and dice, and developing a story for our game boards. Students created rules to follow and made short cuts and dangers. During our final class we had snacks and played our games together using 10 sided dice.

It’s been a fun trimester at HOLA and we’ve had a good time mixing art, design and craft to make enjoyable, colorful games. The kids created imaginative and decorative pieces and it’s been a blast. I’ve loved having such enthusiastic creators and I know they’ve enjoyed the projects too. None of my students wanted to leave our last class!

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Let’s Make Games: Polyhedra



In anticipation of creating more complex board games we constructed paper dice. Everyone is used to 6 sided cubic dice so I brought in templates for 8 sided and 20 sided. We had enough time to make the octahedra but the students had to take the icosahedra templates home. Hopefully they were able to employ a parent to help because constructing a 20 sided dice is quite a challenge!

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Let’s Make Games: Picaria



Picaria is a two person game that originated from the Zuni or Pueblo Indians in the American Southwest. The play is similar to tic-tac-toe, but consists of two stages: laying down pieces, then moving them to try to form three in a row. It’s a quick game and after the students finished creating and decorating their boards we all had an opportunity to play a few rounds.

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Let’s Make Games: CD Jewel Case Maze


I found this project on the Bloesem Kids blog and it’s a wonderful way to recycle old CD jewel cases.

Before class I emptied out some old cases from boxes of CDs I had stored in the attic. I had to reject a few that had parental advisory stickers attached (doesn’t Prince’s Purple Rain seem kind of quaint these days?), as well as a few that were cracked. The Bloesem blog advises using Fimo dough to create small balls to navigate the maze but I used ball bearings instead. Luckily our local hardware store has a drawer with loose steel ball bearings for $.20 each. A diameter of 5/16″ was perfect; bigger than that and the ball would get stuck in the case, smaller and it would jump the sides of the maze.

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Let’s Make Games: Play in the Pumpkin Patch



This week our class laid out board games. Based on a Halloween theme of a pumpkin patch, each student created a meandering path across a poster board, divided it into sections and filled it with four colors. We then decorated the board with pumpkins, gravestones and haunted houses. One child even made a pumpkin lake, a huge oval filled with pumpkins, which he thought was hilarious. Next week we’ll make four-sided dice to roll and create a set of playing pieces from Crayola model magic.

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Let’s Make Games: Pick Pairs



For our second class of “Let’s Make Games” we created a set of memory match cards. Each student received a set of 16 cards on which to make 8 pairs of images. I had printed a drawing of a pear with the words “Pick Pairs” onto one side of the cards, making them a little harder to see through. Using fruit as the theme I walked everyone through the steps of drawing graphical fruits, from apples and oranges through strawberries and lemons slices. The children then duplicated their images and everyone had a fun set of cards to play with. One child bragged about how well he could remember and proceeded to demonstrate with a quick game of pair picking.

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Talking Games for TEDx Jersey City


I’ll be auditioning this weekend for the upcoming TEDx conference in Jersey City. Saturday, June 29th from 2:30-5PM the Jersey City Art School will be hosting 2 minute presentations by artists, creative thinkers and educators. I plan to explain the game design curriculum I developed last year and the results of my classes. If accepted I’ll be creating a longer presentation for the TEDx Jersey City conference coming up in October.

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