Fun STEAM Challenge: Create a board game
We were recently stuck at home (imagine that) and I challenged the boys to come up with their own game for us to play together as a family. They could each come up with one or create one together. They decided to collaborate and I was shocked at how well they worked together. In the design phase, they got super excited about the swamp, doing something with Native American Figurines, and speaking in Australian accents… I don’t know, but they were into it.
As with most of our STEAM and Maker Ed projects, I can give you supply list suggestions, but your creativity and resources will make your project totally unique. Look through that old toy chest or your craft drawer and you’ll find lots to spark ideas. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to improvise!
Supplies will vary and everyone’s games will be different, but I’ll help you get started.
These are some basics you’ll probably need for your game. But there are plenty of other elements you can create as well. Does your game involve cards like Candy Land or Monopoly? Maybe there’s a spinner like Shoots and Ladders — it’s up to you!
- Game Board: flat cardboard is perfect. Have some Amazon boxes you haven’t taken out to the recycling bin? Cut off a piece and you’ve got the base for your game. Can’t find anything sturdy enough? Try taping paper securely to a flat surface.
- Game pieces: Small plastic animals are great for this. You can also make your own players using oven bake Sculpey clay. If you access to a 3D printer, you could make your own players with that. My boys took pieces from another game to use… if you do that make sure you put them back when you are done!
- Rules: This is a big part of it and I have to say, they spent A LOT of time coming up with the rules. They should be written out clearly so you can’t go around changing the rules as you play — no one likes that.
How to get started (and keep going)
For this project, your child will need time to plan, design, gather materials and execute their ideas. There are also some questions you can ask to help move them along when they’re feeling stuck.
Gather materials and plan the game
It’s okay if planning and gathering happen at the same time. You may get all the materials you think you need, but then it becomes clear that the game needs something else — colored tape, Barbie’s shoe, no problem! Be flexible and let the game evolve.
Brain storm: What’s this game about? What age is it for? How many players can participate? Who are the players? What’s their goal?
Sketch / Blueprint: What will the game look like? Sketch a rough draft before you move to the game board. Does the game have a start and an end? How do players advance? What are the rules? Like I said, this is an important one. Write out the rules.
Ready to create!
Now you’re ready to work on your game board and any other elements that need to be created. Remember, creativity is the key here. Taking inspiration from games you have in the house is great, but this game is awesome because your kiddo created it.
Try playing the game. Does it work? Is it too hard? Too easy? Do the rules work or should some be changed or adjusted? Once you’ve ironed out the logistics, I recommend taking the rules you’ve decided work and making an Official Instruction Book.
Time for Family Game Night
Now it’s time to pop some popcorn and settle in to play the game together as a family. And lucky you — the creator of the world’s newest game is on hand to show you the ropes!