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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. 

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TinyTap, Create & Play Educational Games

Book-and-game builder empowers creativity, boasts vast content library

Bottom line: With some patience and planning, this game maker can be a classroom game changer.

Scratch

Jump-start future programmers with adaptive sandbox tool

Bottom line: With plenty of time and support, Scratch can help kids of all ages learn essential programming concepts.

The Infinite Arcade by Tinybop

Simple game-design app has endless creative potential

Bottom line: Letting students design, play, improve, and share their own games opens up opportunities for learning potential in many subject areas.

Bloxels: Build, Play, & Share Your Own Video Games

Making games using physical cubes is fun, despite execution issues

Bottom line: Designing games with physical manipulatives, while fun, can ultimately lead to frustration.

Kodu Game Lab

Open-ended game design and programming tool for visual thinkers

Bottom line: The 3D game-making environment and fun, visual logic will definitely grab some students, but others will need support the game just doesn't provide.

Minecraft

Spiraling sandbox of adventure and creation gets kids to dig deep

Bottom line: An irresistible and seemingly limitless incubator for 21st-century skills that, with a little guidance, can chart new courses for learning.

Adventure Time Game Wizard - Draw Your Own Adventure Time Games

Terrific option to teach basic game design in-app or on paper

Bottom line: A highly engaging hook, along with the ability to design games on paper, make this a great option for STEAM teachers.

Codesters

Differentiated text-based coding makes for truly authentic experiences

Bottom line: The well-designed Python lessons and user interface make this a great choice for serious coding instruction.

Gamestar Mechanic

Captivating manga romp teaches kids game design

Bottom line: This terrific and affordable toolset teaches kids how to design games and shows teachers how to use games to teach.

LittleBigPlanet 2

Accessible yet deep game creator will dazzle and challenge

Bottom line: A deeply charming experience for teachers and students interested in pushing boundaries, making things, and participating in a healthy community focused on boundless creativity.

Ready Maker

Fun and easy game design yields surprisingly complex creations

Bottom line: With teacher support, a creative introduction to coding and game design.

Sound Shapes

Jazzy music game lets kids design levels and create music

Bottom line: A visually stunning music game that inspires creativity by providing simple but powerful tools to build your own music games to share with others.

Swift Playgrounds

Brilliantly designed iOS coding app great for newbies or pros

Bottom line: If iPad devices are available, this is an inspired choice for learning how to create and tweak code.

LearnToMod

Effective springboard to coding for dedicated Minecraft fans

Bottom line: For students who already know and love Minecraft, this is a valuable way to hook students into coding.

Stencyl

Code-free game development tool helps kids program and publish

Bottom line: It ups the sophistication of building block coding by connecting student work to major publishing platforms.

ARIS

Create valuable Pokémon Go-style learning games for iOS devices

Bottom line: A teacher who is willing to learn ARIS can create robust mobile experiences that will resonate with students.

CodeHS

Computer science curriculum offers great feedback, fun challenges

Bottom line: Effective tools and clear lessons teach real programming, but you'll have to spend some cash to help kids master it.

Construct 3

Ideal 2D game builder supports students to create, innovate

Bottom line: Limitless game options, reasonable cost, and extensive support make this programming environment perfect for an educational setting.

micro:bit

Code games or fun displays with mini piece of hardware

Bottom line: This versatile tool for learning how to program with blocks or text is a nice fit for STEM classes and clubs.

Textadventures.co.uk

Play or design text adventures, but creation can get technical

Bottom line: Text adventures can be a blast to play and make, but the Quest game-making tool, while offering some decent support, can be tough to use effectively without coding experience.

Twine

Cool interactive story creator can both dazzle and baffle

Bottom line: Twine is a fascinating tool to build interactive stories, but the "function first" interface means it'll take patience and time.

Codecademy

Terrific hands-on coding practice with live feedback

Bottom line: In this excellent coding application, in-game practice and real-time guidance crack open the world of programming and turn your students into whiz kids.

GameMaker Studio 2

One of the best creation tools available for aspiring game developers

Bottom line: Provides teachers with the best choice for a full unit or class on game design, and gives students a tool to help them realize their game-making dreams.

GameSalad

Great interface, flexible publishing options make game-making a snap

Bottom line: Engaging interface and tutorials will empower budding game designers, but the price tag could be a deal-breaker for tight school budgets.

Level Up!

High-level lesson plans aspire to turn classrooms into game studios

Bottom line: A great starting point for teachers looking to teach game design, but by no means everything you'll need.

Portal 2 Puzzle Maker

Mind-bending level editor for beloved physics game

Bottom line: For STEAM educators with the right tech and know-how, it'd be puzzling not to use this tool.

Codea

Well-thought-out coding platform for real game programming

Bottom line: Codea is a professional tool that has enough help features that kids can learn programming hands-on.

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