Last week I introduced you to the basics of creating your own educational games with TinyTap’s web-based educational game creation tool. In case you missed it, in that post I outlined how you can create an educational game in which students hear you reading questions aloud and then have to identify objects on the screen. This week we’re going to dive into more of TinyTap’s educational game creation tools including how to use some great drawing and design tools.
One of the things that I look for in any creation tool is the ability to help me, a person who doesn’t have an eye for design, make things that do look good. That’s why I use Canva for presentation design and why I like TinyTap’s Creation Packs and other integrated design tools for making educational games.
Styles and Layouts
When you start the process of creating an educational game with TinyTap you can apply any of the many premade styles and layouts to your game. You can apply these styles and layouts to the whole game or to just one scene within your game. You can even mix and match styles and layouts throughout the game.
Some of the many styles that you’ll find in TinyTap include solid color backgrounds, backgrounds that have gradients and patterns, and frames that you can apply to the background of your game. These are great for matching the look and feel of your game to the content of your game. For example, if I was creating a geography game I would probably pick one of the styles that includes a map in the background.
After selecting a style for your game or section of your game you can then choose a layout for your game or section of it. The default is a blank layout and there are dozens of different layouts that you can choose to use to replace the default layout. Some of those layout options are columns of different widths and frequency (two columns, three columns), grids of different sizes, and grids with circles in place of traditional box shapes. You can mix and match layouts throughout your game.
By using a variety of layout options you can create a game that gets progressively more challenging for players. In the case of building my geography game I might start with a slide that has a grid of four boxes for matching flags to the capitals of the countries they represent. Then as the game progresses I might use a layout that has a grid of six boxes to match flags, capitals, and regions of the world.
Images and Animations
The visuals are a critical component of any good educational game. TinyTap provides easy ways to add visuals to the educational games that you design.
One easy option for adding visuals to your TinyTap game is to upload an image that you have stored on your computer. This could be a photograph, drawing, or animated GIF that you created or one that you have the rights to use. Once you’ve uploaded an image you can resize it by simply clicking and dragging the edges of it. Likewise, you can reposition the image by clicking and dragging it on your screen. There are a few image editing tools available as well. You can use those to remove whitespace and to flip the orientation of your uploaded images.
Using your own images in TinyTap is a good way to create a game in which students learn about their school building, school personnel, or the neighborhood around the school. You could upload images of school personnel to create a game in which elementary school students practice identifying the principal, secretary, guidance counselor, librarian, and nurse.
TinyTap offers an integrated image, drawing, and animation search tool. Through this search tool you can locate royalty-free images, drawings, and animations to use in your games. Simply enter a search term then choose whether you want to find photographs, clip art, line art, or animations. When you find something you like, just click on it to add it to the game scene you’re working on.
Just like with uploaded images, you can use the editing tools with images you find through TinyTap’s integrated image, drawing, and animation search. And one of my favorite parts of the integrated search is that you can specify that you only want background-free images so that you don’t have to worry about images that have distracting backgrounds or that simply don’t match with the general aesthetic of your game.
The integrated search option in TinyTap is useful for creating games about things that you might have a hard time drawing or photographing yourself. Games about animal tracks come to mind when thinking about making a game about things that are difficult to draw well or photograph.
If you need some inspiration for a game or you went through the image search process above and didn’t find exactly what you were looking for, take a look at the Creation Packs in TinyTap.
Creation Packs are found in the same place as the styles and layouts in TinyTap’s game editor. Creation Packs feature thematically organized premade game styles and artwork to use in your games. Some of the many Creation Packs that you’ll find include “Back to School,” “Feelings,” and “Seasons.” You’ll also find Creation Packs that contain sets of animated icons, animated diagrams, cartoon faces, and cartoon animals. Harkening back to my days of teaching geography, I’m a big fan of the “Flags of the World” Creation Pack. Finally, if there’s a holiday coming up that you’d like to build a game about, there are Creation Packs that can help you do that. I might use the Halloween Creation Pack to build a game about Trick o’ Treating safety for my kids to play next fall.
It’s important to note that you can use all or just some of the elements from a Creation Pack in TinyTap. Furthermore, you can mix and match elements from multiple Creation Packs into one game. In other words, it’s possible to pick a couple of the flags from the “Flags of the World” Creation Pack and use them with content from the “Travel Puzzle” Creation Pack to create a game in which students match the flag to the corresponding country on a map.
Make Your Text Stand Out
As you might expect, TinyTap includes some text editing tools for you to use on every element of the games that you create. The text editing tools solve two problems for me. First, they allow me to create a game in which my students don’t have to rely on audio prompts. Second, the text editing tools let me create text that is easy to see. By using the text editing tools in TinyTap I can adjust the color, size, style, and placement of my text until I’m certain that it’s easy to see and read when students play my game.
See all of these game design tools in action!
I made a video to provide an overview of all of the game design tools mentioned in this blog post. You can watch the video right here. Or if you’re like me and the best way to learn is to just dive in and try things, you can do so by creating a free TinyTap account right here.
Disclosure: TinyTap is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com