11 Great Game Making Tools for Schools

July 04, 2014
Ellen Holderman
Common Sense Education

CATEGORIES Tools, Technology Integration

For this week's Top Picks List Friday, we're featuring game-making tools for schools. Game development is fun and challenging, energizing classrooms and getting students thinking in new and exciting ways. And by creating games, students can show what they know -- and have fun doing it. These picks are all great options for entry-level game creation, easing kids into building games that are a blast to play.

To see the rating of each app, game, or website, visit the Top-Picks List, Game Making Tools for Schools.


LittleBigPlanet 2
LittleBigPlanet launched as Sony’s flagship game under their “Play, Create, Share” initiative. Think Super Mario Bros. with some physics and Rube Goldberg flavoring mixed in. This is a game that oozes DIY charm! Read full review.

Minecraft is a sandbox game that rewards players for collecting and combining resources into new and useful items that enrich gameplay and encourage exploration and creativity. Although an “End” zone allows players to fight the game’s boss, Minecraft has no plot -- the story is up to the player to define. Read full review.

Sound Shapes
Sound Shapes is a video game with great learning potential. While the arcade action part of the game provides a rich musical track that's influenced by a player's actions, the real learning happens in the mode in which players experiment with creating their own musical games. Read full review.

Portal 2 Puzzle Maker
Portal 2 Puzzle Maker is a game-design and learning tool that allows educators and students to create test chambers -- or puzzle levels -- in Portal 2, a hugely popular and influential first-person physics puzzler with a great sense of humor and mindbending challenges. Read full review.

Stencyl, a code-free cross-platform development tool, provides infinite sandbox-style learning opportunities, ranging from game-design theory and basic programming to graphic design and student collaboration. It also facilitates digital project-based learning that helps students build career and life skills. Read full review.

Scratch can help kids of all ages learn essential programming concepts. It's great for bringing together pieces of student learning into a multimedia product. Students can create narrated vocabulary animations, mathematics models, or multistage games. Read full review.

Code HS
CodeHS is a website that features programming lessons, puzzles, and challenges to help teens learn to write and use code. Kids can watch short videos (or slideshows) that explain design concepts, and then complete online programming challenges. Read full review.

In Codecademy, older kids and teens write computer code. They set their own pace through lessons on every major modern programming language, including PHP, Javascript, Python, Ruby, HTML, and CSS. Read full review.

Kodu Game Lab
Kodu Game Lab is a tool for making 3-D video games without all the toil and complexity of hand coding. Kodu's visual menus let students act as game designers, pointing and clicking to create objects and define their behaviors in the game world through visual, Lego-like "if this, then that" statements. Read full review.

MinecraftEdu transforms Minecraft into a teacher-directed virtual-learning environment. All the open-ended possibilities of the base game still exist in MinecraftEdu, but its bundle of mods and dashboard features gives teachers more control. Read full review.

Gamestar Mechanic
Gamestar Mechanic is an online toolset, game, and community that teaches kids how to build games and shows teachers how to use games to teach. It focuses on the art of visual design rather than on programming. Read full review.


What game making tools to you use in the classroom? Sign in to comment below.