Top Pick

Game-Making Tools for Schools

Playing games is a surefire way to engage students, but making games can be just as absorbing. Game design and development builds art, math, and coding skills, and offers students an outlet to show what they know. These great game-making apps, games, and websites are great examples of this, balancing the fun of play with the challenge of coding and design. With these tools, students will embark on creative, energizing experiences that'll get them thinking in new, exciting ways. On this list, we've curated great options for entry-level designers that ease kids into building stuff that's a blast to play. We've also made sure to include tools that help students create games that feel authentic and that help students obtain skills they can use when they level up to more pro-grade software. 

TinyTap, Create & Play Educational Games Publisher: TinyTap Ltd.
Book-and-game builder empowers creativity, boasts vast content library
Grades Pre-K-5
Type App
Price Free to Try
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
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Scratch Visit Website: http://scratch.mit.edu/
Jump-start future programmers with adaptive sandbox tool
Grades K-12
Type Website
Price Free
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The Infinite Arcade by TinyBop Publisher: Tinybop
Simple game-design app has endless creative potential
Grades 2-5
Type App
Price $2.99
Platforms iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Bloxels: Build, Play, & Share Your Own Video Games Publisher: Pixel Press Technology
Making games using physical cubes is fun, despite execution issues
Grades 2-7
Type App
Price Free, Paid
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Kindle Fire, Fire phone
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Kodu Game Lab Publisher: Microsoft
Open-ended game design and programming tool for visual thinkers
Grades 3-12
Type Game
Price Free
Platforms Windows, Xbox 360
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Minecraft Publisher: Mojang
Spiraling sandbox of adventure and creation gets kids to dig deep
Grades 3-12
Type Game
Price $26.95 for desktop, $19.99 for consoles (except Wii U at $29.99)
Platforms Linux, Mac, Wii U, PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
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Adventure Time Game Wizard - Draw Your Own Adventure Time Games Publisher: Cartoon Network
Terrific option to teach basic game design in-app or on paper
Grades 4-8
Type App
Price Paid
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
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Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Codesters Visit Website: https://www.codesters.com/
Differentiated text-based coding makes for truly authentic experiences
Grades 4-8
Type Website
Price Free to Try, Paid
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Gamestar Mechanic Publisher: Institute of Play and E-Line Media
Captivating manga romp teaches kids game design
Grades 4-9
Type Game
Price Free, Paid
Platforms Mac, Windows
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LittleBigPlanet 2 Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Accessible yet deep game creator will dazzle and challenge
Grades 4-12
Type Game
Price 19.99
Platforms PS3
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Ready Maker Publisher: Ready Makers, Inc.
Fun and easy game design yields surprisingly complex creations
Grades 4-12
Type App
Price Free, Paid
Platforms iPad, iPhone, Chrome, Mac Apps
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Sound Shapes Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Jazzy music game lets kids design levels and create music
Grades 4-12
Type Game
Price 14.99
Platforms PS3, PS Vita
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Swift Playgrounds Publisher: Apple
Fun, intuitive iOS-coding app great for newbies or pros
Grades 4-12
Type App
Price Free
Platforms iPad
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
GameMaker: Studio Publisher: YoYo Games Ltd.
One of the best creation tools available for aspiring game developers
Grades 5-12
Type Game
Price Free, Paid
Platforms Mac, Windows
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LearnToMod Visit Website: http://www.learntomod.com/
Effective springboard to coding for dedicated Minecraft fans
Grades 5-12
Type Website
Price Free, Paid
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Stencyl Publisher: Stencyl, LLC
Code-free game development tool helps kids program and publish
Grades 5-12
Type Game
Price Free, Paid
Platforms Mac
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CodeHS Visit Website: http://www.codehs.com/
Computer science curriculum offers great feedback, fun challenges
Grades 6-12
Type Website
Price Free to Try, Paid
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Textadventures.co.uk Visit Website: http://textadventures.co.uk/
Play or design text adventures, but creation can get technical
Grades 6-12
Type Website
Price Free
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Twine Visit Website: https://twinery.org/
Cool interactive story creator can both dazzle and baffle
Grades 6-12
Type Website
Price Free
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Codecademy Visit Website: http://www.codecademy.com
Terrific hands-on coding practice with live feedback
Grades 7-12
Type Website
Price Free, Paid
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Construct 2 Publisher: Scirra
Standout, pro-caliber game-dev tool still great for novices
Grades 7-12
Type Game
Price Free, Paid
Platforms Windows
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
GameSalad Publisher: GameSalad, Inc.
Great interface, flexible publishing options make game-making a snap
Grades 7-12
Type Game
Price Paid
Platforms Mac, Windows
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Level Up! Visit Website: http://www.scholastic.com/createvideogames/
High-level lesson plans aspire to turn classrooms into game studios
Grades 7-12
Type Website
Price Free
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Portal 2 Puzzle Maker Publisher: Valve
Mind-bending level editor for beloved physics game
Grades 7-12
Type Game
Price $19.99
Platforms Mac, Windows
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Codea Publisher: Two Lives Left
Well-thought-out coding platform for real game programming
Grades 8-12
Type App
Price $14.99
Platforms iPad
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