Create an Educational Puzzle Game With TinyTap

Disclosure: TinyTap is currently posted on FreeTech4Teachers.com.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve covered the basics of creating an educational game with TinyTap and how to make it look good. This week I’ll start by diving into some of the more interesting game types and formats available at TinyTap. The first is the puzzle game format.

Ideas and examples of puzzle games
When you read “Puzzle Game,” you might automatically think of jigsaw puzzles, and I know I do. You can certainly create a jigsaw puzzle with TinyTap, but there are plenty of other ways to use TinyTap’s puzzle creators.

With TinyTap puzzle game creation tools, you can create games in which students drag and drop game pieces together. By doing this you can create games in which students match letters to pictures as in this game or games where students place animals in the countries, states or provinces they represent as will be done in the game I am creating.

Another way to think about using the TinyTap puzzle game generator is to have students complete the counting activity. In this style of game, students will drag a series of items into position in order to count them. Try it out in this train game.

There are probably an infinite number of identification games that you can create with TinyTap puzzle game tools. Few of the things I can think of are games to identify birds and other wildlife, games to practice recognizing parts of speech, and games to practice recognizing parts of a computer system. And for some reason I can’t pinpoint when I thought about making a puzzle game to practice object recognition, I thought how useful it would be to have a identification game when I was taking an anatomy and physiology course twenty years ago. .

And because each game is built on a slide-by-slide basis, it’s possible to combine the elements of counting, sorting, matching, and object alignment into one comprehensive game. Take a look at this game about fruits and vegetables as an example of using all the puzzle tools in one game.

How to make a puzzle game in TinyTap
In this example, I will create a game where students will drag and drop flags over the New England states they represent. To get started, just like creating any other game in TinyTap, I’ll start by adding a title slide for my game. As a reminder, you can use any of the styles, layouts, and creation packages to design the slides in the game. This video I posted last week shows you how to use these design tools.

The next step in the puzzle game design process is probably the most important one to get started right. Put all the pieces together where they need to be when you solve the puzzle. In other words, think of it like making a jigsaw puzzle by slicing the picture. Another way to think about it is to generate the answer key before writing the test. In this case, I will put a map of New England on my slide and then place the animals of the corresponding state on that map. See the image below for more details.

After arranging the game elements, go to the places where the correct answers are, it’s time to choose the type of activity. The type of activity I use for this game is “shape puzzle”. After selecting the shape puzzle option, it’s time to cut out the pieces that will be pulled into position when the students play the game. Pieces are cut using TinyTap’s tracing tools. When each piece is traced and cut, it must be dragged to the side or bottom of the chip to create a group of pieces. From this bank students will choose pieces to move during the game. It’s also important to note that you can record audio to accompany each puzzle piece you create. In my game, I read out loud the names of the animals in my puzzle pieces. Take a look at the screenshots below for more details.

After cutting out the game pieces and placing them in a bank, you can simply click on Done and the game is ready to play. However, there is a lot you can do to improve the gaming experience for your students. These are found by opening the Options menu when viewing the Shape Puzzle Editor. In that menu you will find options for recording audio. I highly recommend using this option to provide your students with some instructions or clues for playing the game. You can also enable the following gameplay features:

  • Bounce Back – This option returns the pieces to the bank if they are not placed in the proper place.
  • Easy Mode – This option enables students to see the puzzle initially completed and then scatter the pieces to start the game. (Only available on iPad)
  • Disable Hints – This is an illustrative option in itself. (Only available on iPad)
  • Hints – When Guided Play Mode is on, this will give students three attempts before the piece is automatically placed in the correct place. (Only available on iPad)
  • 3D – Displays the 3D pieces or makes them appear as if they pop out of the screen.

At this point, it’s a good idea to preview the game before moving forward. To preview the game, all you have to do is click on the play icon located to the left of the slide. Once clicked the game will load and can be played exactly as the student sees it.

It is also possible to create a puzzle game that does not use a bank of answer options. TinyTap calls this alternative puzzle a “mixed puzzle.” Mixed puzzles are great for creating games in which students match two or more pieces together to create a complete picture. For example, in my game, I created a mixed puzzle where students have to reassemble a map of New England states. So I copied the slide from earlier and then removed the cut pieces. Then I used the tracking tool to keep track of each state and made them their own puzzle pieces.

When creating a mixed puzzle game, as you did with a map of New England, it can be very helpful for your students to enable Easy Mode so they can see the whole picture before having to try to put it together. That’s a lot when you put together a jigsaw puzzle and look at the picture on the box to help you get started.

More puzzle games inspiration and tutorial

The folks at TinyTap were kind enough to put together a collection of puzzle games that anyone can try right now. So if you are looking for ideas for making educational games for your students, take a look at the following examples:

Finally, you can watch the full process I alluded to above explained in this video tutorial.

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