Last week I introduced you to the basics of creating your own educational games using TinyTap’s online educational game creator. In case you missed it, in this post I showed how you can create an educational game in which students hear you read questions out loud and then have to select objects on the screen. This week we’ll explore more educational game creation tools from TinyTap including how to use some great drawing and design tools.
One of the things I look for in any builder is the ability to help me, someone who doesn’t have an eye for design, to make things look good. That’s why I use Canva to design presentations and why I love TinyTap’s creation packages and other integrated design tools for making educational games.
Styles and layouts
When you begin the process of creating an educational game with TinyTap, you can apply any of the many pre-made patterns and layouts to your game. You can apply these styles and layouts to the entire game or just one scene within the game. You can even mix and match patterns and layouts throughout the game.
Some of the many styles you’ll find in TinyTap include solid color backgrounds, backgrounds with gradients, patterns, and frames that you can apply to your game background. These features are great for matching the look and feel of your game with your game content. For example, if I was creating a geography game, I would probably choose one of the modes that includes a map in the background.
After you select your game style or section of your game, you can then choose your game format or section. The default is an empty layout and there are dozens of different layouts you can choose to use to replace the default layout. Some of these layout options are columns of different widths and frequency (two columns, three columns), grids of different sizes, and grids with circles instead of the traditional box shapes. You can mix and match layouts throughout the game.
Using a variety of layout options, you can create a game that gets progressively more difficult for your two players. If building my geography game, I might start with a slide with a grid of four squares to match the flags with the capitals of the countries they represent. Then as the game progresses, I might use a chart with a grid of six squares to match flags, capitals, and world regions.
Pictures and animation
The visuals are a crucial component of any good educational game. TinyTap provides easy ways to add visuals to the educational games 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 may be a photo, graphic, or animated GIF that you have created or have rights to use. Once you upload an image, you can resize it simply by clicking and dragging its edges. Similarly, you can change the position of the image by clicking and dragging it on your screen. Some photo editing tools are also available. You can use these to remove whitespace and reverse the direction of uploaded images.
Using your own photos in TinyTap is a good way to create a game in which students learn about the school building, school staff, or the neighborhood around the school. You can upload pictures of school staff to create a game in which elementary school students practice identifying principal, secretary, guidance counselor, librarian, and nurse.
TinyTap provides an integrated search tool for images, drawing and animation. With this search tool, you can select royalty-free images, graphics, and animations for use in your games. Simply enter a search term and then choose whether you want to search for photographs, clip art, line art, or animation. When you find something you like, just click on it to add it to the game scene you’re working on.
Just as with uploaded photos, you can use editing tools with the photos you find with TinyTap’s integrated image search, drawing, and animation. And one of my favorite parts of the integrated search is that you can specify that you only want background-free images so you don’t have to worry about images that have distracting backgrounds or that simply don’t match the overall aesthetic of your game.
TinyTap’s integrated search option is useful for creating games about things that you might find difficult to draw or photograph yourself. Animal track games 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 the game or went through the image search process above and didn’t find exactly what you were looking for, take a look at TinyTap’s build packs.
The build packages are found in the same place as Styles and Layouts in the TinyTap Game Editor. Creation packs feature thematically organized game modes and artwork to use in your games. Some of the many build packs you’ll find include Back to School, Feelings, and Classes. You’ll also find creation packs with combinations of animated icons, animated diagrams, cartoon faces, and cartoon animals. Back in the days of teaching geography, I’m a huge fan of the “Flags of the World” creativity pack. Finally, if there’s a vacation coming up and you’d like to build a game around it, there are creation packages that can help you do just that. I might use the Halloween Creation Pack to create a game about Trick o’ Safety tackle for my kids to play next fall.
It is important to note that you can use all or only some of the items from the TinyTap build package. Moreover, you can mix and match items from multiple creation packs in one game. In other words, it is possible to choose two 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 with the corresponding country on the map.
Make your text stand out
As you might expect, TinyTap includes some text editing tools for you to use in every element of the games you create. Text editing tools solve two problems for me. First, they allow me to create a game where my students don’t have to rely on voice prompts. Second, the text editing tools allow me to create text that is easy to see. Using TinyTap’s text editing tools, I can adjust text color, size, style, and position to make sure it’s easy to see and read when students play my game.
See all these game design tools in action!
I made a video to give an overview of all the game design tools mentioned in this blog post. You can watch the video here. Or if you are like me and the best way to learn is to dive in and try things out, you can do so by creating a free TinyTap account here.
Disclosure: TinyTap advertised on FreeTech4Teachers.com