Exploring Game Design Project-Based Learning Unit

A Combination of Design Thinking and Language Skill-Building Power a Game Design Project

Build background knowledge of thinking, learning, and collaboration styles, explore the design of different types of games, build a word bank of vocabulary words, and apply design thinking, learning styles, and game design to create and play an interactive vocabulary game with friends and classmates.

Your students will combine design thinking with language arts skills to complete a game design project in this project-based learning unit for grades 3-5 language arts. They'll learn about different thinking and learning styles, dive into how games and game rules are designed by carefully researching the rules for the game "Words with Friends," work together to build a word bank of vocabulary words, and then design an interactive word game to practice vocabulary with their friends and classmates.

What's Inside

Packed with hands-on inquiry-based activities, extensions and enhancements, cross-curricular independent and group work, and engaging and interactive challenges, this 56-page project-based unit comes complete with:

  • For the Teacher: A complete Game Design Lesson Plan with step-by-step instructions for all activities, teaching tips, assessment guidance, and inquiry questions.
  • For Students: A full-color Student Pack complete with all of the printables, slides, photos, and instructions students need for the research, experiments and activities - just print (or share) and teach!

A complete, ready-to-teach Teacher Pack that includes:

  1. Teacher versions of all the student printables with step-by-step annotations and notes for teaching game design;
  2. Formative and summative assessments, answer keys, and a full project rubric;
  3. Instructions and guidance for the extension activities and project enhancements;
  4. Materials and resources lists, links to articles, videos, and research, plus additional resources for lecture and presentation.
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Lesson Plan - Exploring Game Design Project-Based Learning Lesson
Teacher Pack - Exploring Game Design Project-Based Learning Lesson
Student Pack - Exploring Game Design Project-Based Learning Lesson


This project-based learning lesson is designed to support and reinforce the concepts taught as part of a social studies lesson or unit on Native Americans. It is built around 5 inquiry-based milestones that incorporate cross-curricular hands-on projects, formative and summative assessments, independent and group activities, and extensions.


In the course of this project-based learning unit, students will:

  • Build background knowledge about learning, thinking, and collaboration styles using a learning and thinking styles inventory;
  • Explore how games are designed by playing the "50 States" game and researching the rules for "Words with Friends";
  • Work collaboratively in groups to build a robust word bank of vocabulary words to be used in building a game;
  • Use the learning and thinking styles information and design thinking to create an interactive word game from start to finish;
  • "Show what they know" by playing the games they created with friends and classmates to build vocabulary skills.


Students will acquire necessary background knowledge of designing games as part of this project, and instructional materials for providing that background are included in the Teacher Pack. 


This project-based unit is divided into 5 milestones. The minimum suggested duration for completing this project-based unit is 5 class periods. However, the unit is completely flexible can be lengthened or shortened as necessary or desired, based on available class time and interest level.


  • Internet access


These activities support the following CCSS curriculum standards:

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