Game Jam Teacher Resources

What is a Game Jam?

The goal of a “Game Jam” is for a small group to get together and prototype game designs (online, pervasive, tabletop, or other formats). Participants share a common theme and create a working prototype in a short amount of time. The brief time span is meant to help encourage creative thinking to develop small innovative games.

Games are increasingly used in educational settings to help inspire curiosity, creativity, collaboration, optimism, and problem-solving skills among a wide variety of audiences. Serious games address real-world challenges, compress time and space, encourage systems thinking, and promote active engagement, making them particularly well suited to conservation education.

Teacher Timeline

Suggested Teacher Timeline

Step 1: Content Exploration

  • Help students to understand foundational concepts of the content areas through classroom lessons.
  • Introduce students to game design principles. (p. 12 of Design Pack)
  • Help students to explore different game types (board game, card game, simulation, digital game, role-play).
  • Consider playing games as a class and then discuss how the game was constructed, how it was played, how you can win, and what makes the game fun to play.

Step 2: Game Brainstorm

  • Allow students to explore resources in their chosen content area.
  • Have materials available to aid brainstorming.
  • Encourage students to list ideas that they have for game types and then a list of game content.
  • Help students to narrow the focus of their game to allow for easier development.

Step 3: Game Design

  • Ask students to complete the game design form (p. 15 from Design Pack)
  • Have students finalize their game ideas and begin to build components.
  • Have supplies available for the creation of the game.

Step 4: Play-Testing

  •  Students play their own games.
  • Allow time for students to edit and adjust their game.
  • Have students play-test each other’s games.

Step 5: Prep to Submit

  • Have students create 4-minute videos about their game showing the main ideas, the components and how to play.
  • Submit for judging by the due date.

Design Pack Games and Learning from the Institute of Play (52-pg PDF)


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Suggested Materials

Your materials needs will vary depending on the type of game that your students will create. The following are some materials that may be helpful for a game jam:

  • Index cards
  • Spinners
  • Pens, pencils, markers
  • Paper (white, construction, large format, etc.)
  • Small sticky pads
  • Large sticky pads
  • Dry erase boards and markers
  • Art supplies
  • Game pieces
  • Dice (many kinds)
  • Mathematics cubes
  • Buttons or old game markers

Tips and Tricks for Jamming

  • Play other games first. Discuss how the games are played and what makes them fun.
  • Review these current topics to get familiar with the subject.
  • Narrow the focus – direct team members to think about one aspect of their chosen topic.


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Formative Assessments – Process

A formative assessment looks at student progress through a unit. These are typically an ungraded activity that allows teachers to gain a gauge of where students are in their learning process.

  • KWL in groups: Students get into groups of 3-4 where they label what they know before, what they want to know, and what they have learned since starting.
  • Quizziz or Kahoot, here is an example from quuizziz.
  • Informal discussion: Students begin in small groups and run through discussion questions then the teacher brings all the students in to have a full discussion.
  • Assessing the Game Making Process (PDF)
  • Group and self-assessment tool (PDF)

Scoring Rubric – Product

NGSS Standards

Elementary School Standards

  • 3-LS4-3 — Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular habitat some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.
  • 3-LS4-4 — Make a claim about the merit of a solution to a problem caused when the environment changes and the types of plants and animals that live there may change.

Middle School Standards

  • MS-LS2-1 — Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem.
  • MS-LS2-5 — Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services.
  • MS-ESS3-3 — Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.

High School Standards

  • HS-LS2-6 — Evaluate the claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms in stable conditions, but changing conditions may result in a new ecosystem
  • HS-LS2-7 — Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.
  • HS-LS2-8 — Evaluate evidence for the role of group behavior on individual and species’ chances to survive and reproduce.
  • HS-LS4-6 — Create or revise a simulation to test a solution to mitigate adverse impacts of human activity on biodiversity.


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Game Examples