Fifth Grade SEL Games

By the Integrated Learning and Information Sciences Department
Fifth graders have spent time in ILIS designing, collaborating, building and coding to create interactive video games for 1st grade students that weaved in social-emotional learning (SEL). Students worked in design teams using different conductive materials and technology tools to code games that would help teach 1st graders about emotions and feelings.

First, the teams brainstormed to come up with ideas about the type of game they wanted to create, using an emotion from the SEL mood meter that 1st grade students have learned about. Then, they assigned tasks to each group member to design and build their game. The students who focused on coding created and tested all the code to make their game design work. For the coding component, 5th graders used Scratch, a free online coding program designed at MIT’s Media Lab. Scratch coding is a way for students to learn coding language, as well as how to design, solve problems, iterate, share their work and amplify their voice.

The game board electricians concentrated on wiring and building their interactive game boards. They used conductive materials like copper sheets, foil and conductive wires they cut, stripped and connected to a MakeyMakey, an external plug-and-play circuit board that allows conductive materials to connect with a computer and coding. They triggered the game boards by tapping on the conducted materials and connecting to the instructions in the code. The electricians worked closely with the coders to make sure the controllers and interactive elements worked with the code.

The designers and art directors worked on the theme of the game, including background, characters, art and game design layout. The designers coordinated and worked with the coders to find background images, characters and objects for the players to collect points in the game. They also worked with the electricians to make sure the layout of the game boards worked and added images and art to decorate the game board based on the game’s theme.

After their games were finished, 5th graders had a big share-out in the Kovler Family Library, where 1st graders played the games their 5th grade buddies had created for them. First grade students offered feedback to the 5th graders and had fun spending time with their buddies and thinking about how to work through big emotions (mad, sad, happy and calm) through game play. Fifth graders did an awesome job hosting their 1st grade buddies and creating fun interactive games for them to play.

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Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.