Re-Invent the Play Date



Some of our favorite board games take place in the context of a story, either fantastic or based on real-life scenarios. Other board games lack any kind of narrative structure. In this lesson, students design board games of the first type, and add interactivity using littleBits modules.


Student will be able to write a narrative.


Common Core ELA Standards


– CCRA.W1-3: Text Types and Purposes
– CCRA.L3: Knowledge of Language


– Ongoing peer and teacher reviews
– Class-created rubric

Duration: 3-5 hours

Middle School (ages 11-13)


Makerspace Workshops

fan (1)
slide dimmer (1)
roller switch (1)
branch (1)
dc motor (1)
buzzer (1)
long led (1)
light sensor (1)
bargraph (1)
button (1)
dimmer (1)
power (1)
pulse (1)
vibration motor (1)
pressure sensor (1)
servo (1)
sound trigger (1)
bright led (1)
battery + cable (1)
wire (1)


STEP 1 : Introduction

(5 minutes)

Select a board game that lacks a narrative structure (e.g. checkers, backgammon, tic-tac-toe) and introduce it to your students. They may not all be familiar with the game, so you might have to explain the rules and purpose of the game.

STEP 2 : Brainstorming

(15-20 minutes)

Pair students, and have them brainstorm ideas for a narrative that could be added to the game to make it more interesting. Before they begin, make a list of features of a narrative (setting, characters, plot, etc.)

Students should answer these questions:
What is going to happen? Where/when will the story take place? Who are the main characters? What do they look like? How will the story begin? What will be the problem? How is the problem going to be resolved?

Take time as a class to create a rubric. Begin with the narrative criteria.

STEP 3 : Sharing Ideas

(15 minutes)
Have pairs share one of their ideas for a narrative to fit with the game. See what a wide range of stories they come up with!

STEP 4 : Making Games: Introduction

(5-10 minutes)
Introduce the idea of making their own games, using using everyday materials and littleBits modules. Explain that whatever kind of game they make, there needs to be a narrative structure. Consider demonstrating several board games that have narrative structures (Settlers of Catan, Risk, etc).

Add criteria for the game construction to the rubric.

STEP 5 : Crafting Narratives

(1-2 hours)
Give students time to craft the narrative BEFORE they start designing the game. Writing can be done as homework. Use peer and teacher reviewing throughout the writing process.

STEP 6 : Making the game

(45 minutes)
Give students time in class to design the game. This could be a sketch or prototype. Once their game is approved, they can begin creating the game at home out of paper, cardboard, etc. Consider reversing steps 5 and 6, if you would prefer that the students have access to classroom materials and tools for constructing the physical game board, tokens, etc.

STEP 7 : Adding interactivity


(45 minutes)
Give students the option to add lights, sound, and other types of interactivity to their board game using littleBits modules. If your students are unfamiliar with the Bits, consider demonstrating how the modules work together to form circuits. Distribute materials and allow students time to incorporate the littleBits circuits into their games.

STEP 8 : Play Date


Give students the opportunity to play each other’s games in class. Consider having students fill out rubrics to assess the games.