A couple semesters ago a group of students was really struggling with the difference between the adverbs too and enough. The explanation in the book was clear, we had a good discussion, but after completing the provided practice exercises they still weren’t feeling confident. Since I too was tired of the book’s practice exercises, I decided to make a fun game for them to play instead.
The paper version of the game has two different forms: a board game and a cover up version. Cover up is played in pairs. Students share a board (pictured on the left) and take turns drawing cards, reading the sentence, and then covering up a square that lists the correct word to complete the sentence (I use milk jug lids as my covers, they’re free and come in a variety of colors.). The first player to cover four spaces in formation (straight line, a square, four corners) is the winner. In the board game version (playable by groups of 2-4 students), students draw a card, read the sentence, and determine if the blank should be completed with too or enough. If correct, the student rolls the die and moves his/her piece on the board. The first person to reach the finish square is the winner.
Since class has been moved on-line, and even if we were in the classroom students wouldn’t be allowed to sit close together or share materials, I needed a digital version for this fall. I had already created a couple of different digital cover up games, and I really wanted to do something different this time. I had also recently seen a YouTube video about making magic reveal answers, and I really wanted to try it for myself. Enter the digital board game, complete with game play script. Before I tell you about how I made the game, here’s a quick video showing you how it works:
The first part of the process was very similar to other board games I’ve made. I started by designing the various slides in PowerPoint. In order to make everything fit I like to resize my slides to 17×11 (in PowerPoint click on Design, Slide Size, Custom Slide Size, enter your desired dimensions and cick OK, choose Ensure Fit). This allows me to simply take my already-designed paper game board, save it as an image, and insert it on half the slide. The second half of the slide is where I type instructions for how to play the game. After setting up the game board slide, I then set up a slide for every question. Each question slide includes the sentence prompt and a box called “Game Board.” Once all of my slides were designed, I saved them all as images (Save As, choose .jpg or .png, Save, All Slides).
In order to have my magic reveal answer I needed to create and save three more images: “too,” “enough,” and a magnifying glass. For the two text answers (too/enough), I created a text box in PowerPoint, typed the word too, changed the color of the text to be the same as my background, right clicked on it, chose “Save as Image,” and saved it. I then repeated the process for enough. The magnifying glass was slightly harder because I am not an artist. I do, however, know of a great source for royalty-free images and clipart, Pixaby. I simply went there, searched for magnifying glass, chose one with a clear background, and saved it to my computer.
I was now ready to start setting up my game in Google Slides. First, I needed to upload the game board and sentence slides I designed in PowerPoint and set them as the backgrounds of individual slides. Designing in PowerPoint, saving as images, and setting those images as backgrounds prevents students from accidentally (or accidentally-on-purpose) moving, changing, or deleting things you don’t want them to. This process of uploading and setting all these images as backgrounds used to be very tedious and time consuming. Then I was introduced to the add-on Slides Toolbox. This add-on allows me to import images and set them as backgrounds on separate slides in about seven or eight clicks, rather than the seven or eight clicks per slide it used to take.
After getting all of my backgrounds in place, I needed to make my Game Board button functional. In order to do this, I drew a rectangle over the button on the first question slide, made the rectangle and border clear, and then hyperlinked it (use the link button in the toolbar) to the slide with my game board. I then copied the box and pasted it onto each question slide. The nice thing about this copy and paste method is that the hyperlink is also copied and pasted and Slides automatically pastes it in the same location on ever slide. So I literally copied it, clicked on the next slide, hit ctrl+v, and clicked the next slide to repeat the process. The entire operation only took me about 30 seconds.
It was now time for the part I’d been waiting for: creating the magic reveal. Starting with the first question slide, I inserted the image for the correct answer (too or enough). I then positioned the image over the black line, making sure no part of it covered anything black. Because the word is typed in the same color as the background it became invisible. I then inserted the magnifying glass image that I’d previously saved and set it to go to the back (right click on it, choose “send to back,” or click on it and click alt+shift+b). By sending the magnifying glass to the back I told the program that any time it’s sharing space with another object on the screen the other object should be on top. In other words, when I drag the magnifying glass over the answer line, the word on the line is put on top, the magnifying glass is put on the bottom, and the word becomes visible because something that is a different color is between it and the background. Very cool! I then went to each question slide and repeated the steps:
- insert answer image (too or enough)
- position answer over line in sentence
- insert magnifying glass image (actually I just copied and pasted it from the previous slide)
- send magnifying glass to the back (unfortunately this setting does not copy and paste with the image)
The last big task I had to complete was adding the game play script that my husband wrote for me. This script adds a menu item to the top that says “Game Play.” Under that menu are additional menus that say “Draw Card” and “Roll Dice.” The “Draw Card” menu will randomly jump a player to one of the question cards (similar to drawing a card from the top of a pile). The “Roll Dice” menu will produce a pop up window that says, “You rolled a __,” and give a randomly generated number between one and six. This script (as well as others) is available in my store and includes a video giving step-by-step instructions on how to install and use it.
All that was left to do now was create the pieces for my students to move. On the game board slide I made a circle, copied it, pasted it three times, recolored them to be four different colors, arranged them where I wanted them, and I was finished.
Just a couple of quick tips/reminders for using them in your classroom:
- Make a copy and assign the copy. Despite all of our efforts, students will have problems and you don’t want your original file messed up.
- In order to play together students will need to share a single file. That means you will need to make a copy for each group of students and then share that copy (with editing rights) with each of the students in the group. So if you have 28 students, playing in groups of four, you will need 7 copies of the game. Each copy will then have to be shared with each student in that particular group (so yes, you will have to set your groups up ahead of time).
- Students need editing rights to play. If they don’t have editing rights they will not be able to move any of the playing pieces.
- Google Slides must remain in edit mode. Once in presentation mode you are unable to drag/move any of the game pieces (you will also lose access to the game play menu).
Digital board games take a little bit of work to create (though it is getting easier as I go and learn new tricks, such as Slides Toolbox) and set up, but I really think it’s worth it. My students always respond so positively to games and I was very frustrated last semester when I couldn’t use them. Now that I have learned how to do all of these cool things I can’t wait for on-line instruction this fall!