Press Start: Useful Websites for Game Design

Is your child at the age where all they want to do is play digital games? As educators or parents, we want to restrict this type of game-play, but that should not always be the case.  What if I told you that playing and creating digital games is a productive and educating moment for the child? Well, it is–and we want to talk to you about it.

Here at the Wonder Workshop, we want to inspire children to make their own digital games. It is a valuable outlet for them to learn more about coding, mathematics, design, planning, and creativity.

How can my child and I  create a game?

Doing so is easier nowadays with all the free resources available online (a heads-up that you might have to download some software). Below is a list of our 3 favorite websites for game making.

Sploder 

Lets you create different types of games from 8-bit arcade games and flash games such as puzzles, 3D adventures, and classic creator.  It is a drag-and drop interface, where you can drag pre-designed graphics and add pre-written coding.  It is a super easy–I created this game within 20 mins.

Screen Shot 2017-07-20 at 5.47.32 PM

 

 

 

If they are more confident, they can create their own graphics through the graphic editor.

The best part is that child can share their work with friends and loved ones. The platform is free on computers and laptops. However, there is a fee of $1.99 for those downloading through the App Store and Google Play Store.

TIP: There are several Youtube tutorials videos for this game creator. For example: Jaction Rowe, a kid, created this video for the Retro arcade game creator. It is easy to follow and shows how child-friendly this game creator is.

Construct 2

This HTML game creator is an easy program that lets anyone design 2D games. Here is a mini preview:

It is super easy. The drag and drop design makes it child-friendly, which makes it perfect for users who are not familiar with creating graphics for the games. You can purchase add-on graphic packages for a small fee.

The limited Construct 2 is available for Free for Windows here. If you want to create applications for Android and Apple products, you will need to purchase the download for about $129.99. Of course they have also an Education discount for educators and schools (prices vary).

If you do not know what version of the program to get, check out the Compare Features section here.

Stencyl

This drag and drop interface makes it easy for anyone to make their own 2 dimensional game. Stencyl Starter download is free for Macs, Windows and Linux computers, and laptops. If your child is very invested, you can upgrade to Indie for $99.99 per year. Here is a preview and tutorial of how to make your own game.

You can build your own apps on multiple platforms such as Android and iOS. Download Stencyl Studio for a fee of $199.99 per year.

With these tools, you and your child have an opportunity to not only create, but build confidence. It’s also an opportunity to brag about your child genius and show off their digital creations to loved ones. Of course, you can show off on this blog post, too! Please feel free to comment below with a link to your child’s creations. And don’t feel like it’s only limited to your child–we’d love for you to share your work as well! Remember, Everyone is a Maker, so even adults can create their own games and learn.


About the Author

12994313_10153754492989398_3332096439278684403_n

Maria Renteria, AmeriCorps VISTA 

 

Maria comes to us from the South Bay of Los Angeles. She has been a Maker since she can remember. She is excited to share this passion with Grass Valley Elementary students because she wants them to create their best memories of school through making like she did when she was little.
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Part Two of Summer Making Events

Maker events are popping up left to right this summer–there was simply too much to fit in the five-page document we posted earlier this month! We’ve expanded it to include other cities in the Bay Area. Without further ado, here is “Part Two of  Free Summer Maker Events”:

Alameda

  • We Love Legos! at the Alameda Main Library on July 8, 2017, from 2:00 pm
  • Thursday Craft at the West End Library on July 13, 2017, from 3:30 pm  (Ages 4-8)
  • We Love Legos! at the Bay Farm Island Library on July 20, 2017, from 3:30 pm
  • Playdough Play at the West End Library on July 20, 2017, from 3:30 pm 
  • Thursday Craft at the Bay Farm Island Library on August 3, 2017, from 3:30 pm

Berkeley

  • Makerspace at the North Branch Berkeley Public Library on the following dates from 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
    • July 1, 2017
    • August 5, 2017
  • Legos at the Library at the Central Berkeley Public Library on the following dates from  3:30 pm – 5:00 pm
    • July 7, 2017
    • August 1, 2017 
  • Family Fare: Enter the Otherworldly at the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive on July 8, 2017, from 11:30 am
  • Legos at the Library at the Claremont Berkeley Public Library on July 14, 2017, from 10:15 am – 10:45 am
  • PlayWell TEKnologies at the Central Berkeley Public Library on July 17, 2017, from 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm (Ages 5-9, registration needed)
  • STEM Workshops: Think, Make, Try  at the West Berkeley Public Library on July 18, 2017, from 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm (Ages 3-9, registration needed)
  • KEVA Open Play Day at the Central Berkeley Public Library on July 22, 2017, from 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm 
  • Experience VR at the Central Berkeley Public Library on July 24, 2017, from 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm (Registration limited to 30 people)
  • PlayWell TEKnologies at the North Berkeley Public Library on August 9, 2017, from 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm (Ages 5-9, registration needed)
  • STEM Workshops: Nature Studio at the Central Berkeley Public Library on August 11, 2017, from 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm 

Oakland

  • Jack of All Trades Oakland at Jack London Square from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm (kids’ activities and DIY workshops available)

    • July 8
    • August 12

San Francisco

San Francisco Main Library can be easily accessible by BART (exit at Civic Center Station)

  • Zine Workshop at the San Francisco Main Library on the following dates from 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm:
    • July 7, 2017
    • July 21, 2017
  • Lights Up Your World with Lightbots! at the San Francisco Main Library on July 8, 2017, from 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
  • Art All Around at the San Francisco Main Library on the following dates from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm:
    • July 9, 2017
    • August 13, 2017
  • Knit Happens at the San Francisco Main Library on July 15, 2017, from 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm 
  • Scribble Bots at the San Francisco Main Library on July 15, 2017, from 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm (Ages 8 and up, registration needed)
  • Lego Simple Machines at the San Francisco Main Library on July 22, 2017, from 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm (Ages 8 and up, registration needed)
  • The Exploratorium: Naturebots at the San Francisco Main Library on July 28, 2017, from 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm 

San Leandro

  • READ – IMAGINE – DESIGN with Legos at the San Leandro History Museum on the following dates (All films start at 1:30 pm):
    • July 5, 2017 – “Lego: The Adventures of Clutch” (NR, 1:18)
    • July 12, 2017 – “Lego: Scobby-Doo!: Haunted Hollywood” (NR, 1:15)
    • July 19, 2017 – “Lego Justice League: Gotham City Breakout” (NR, 1:15)
    • July 26, 2017 – “Lego Justice League: Cosmic Clash” (NR, 1:16)
    • August 2, 2017 -“Lego Justice League: Attack of the Legion of Doom” (NR, 1:12)
  • Design Lab: Drop-In Crafts for Kids at the San Leandro Main Library on the following dates from 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm:
    • July 11, 2017
    • July 18, 2017
    • July 25, 2017
    • August 1, 2017
  • Tinker Tots at the San Leandro Main Library (for ages 2-5) on the following dates and from 10:30 am -11:30 am (Caregiver needs to be present):
    • July 10, 2017 – Everything goes by Sea! Build a sea-worthy vessel of your own imagination. Will it sink or float? Listen to a book then try for yourself.
    • July 24, 2017 – Toddler Runway! Design an outfit for a cut-out doll that is totally you. From high-art fashion to practical stand-bys, show us your fashion chops.
  • Library Explorers at the San Leandro Main Library (grades 1-5) on the following dates and from 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm (Call to register one week in advance of each date):
    • July 27, 2017 – Build! Legos, Kevas Planks, Straws and More!
    • August 3, 2017– Hands-on Chemistry
  • Lego Club at the San Leandro Main Library on the following dates from 3:30 pm – 4:45 pm (Ages 5 and up):
    • July 27, 2017
    • August 24, 2017
  • Girls Who Code at the San Leandro Public Library (Application open in August 2017)

 


About the Author

12994313_10153754492989398_3332096439278684403_n

Maria Renteria, AmeriCorps VISTA 
Maria comes to us from the South Bay of Los Angeles. She has been a Maker since she can remember. She is excited to share this passion with Grass Valley Elementary students because she wants them to create their best memories of school through making like she did when she was little.

 

 

Apps for Makers

Taking making to another level or to your home has never been so easy. Today’s technology makes it easier for parents and educators to provide another mode of making that doesn’t need a makerspace.

We encourage you to introduce technology such as your smartphone or tablet to your child or student to start making.  These mobile devices have made software practically free and in abundance and are a great resource for creative education.

So what apps do I encourage to download?

The Foos Coding

the-foos-app

Does your child ever wonder how games are made? Now, your child gets the insight by making their own game using The Foos. This app lets them learn simple coding to make their game the way they like it. The animation is cute and bright that it will definitely catch their eyes. Plus your child can get a certification of completion for “The Hour of Code.”

 Ideally for ages 4 and up 

Available on the App Store and Google Play, FREE (In-app purchases available) 

Hopscotch

hopscotch-app

Do you want your children to make their own game, website, animation or app? Those things are now possible with this app.  Children will learn through color and simple commands that will set their foundation in the language of coding for the future.

 

 

Ideally for Ages 9 and up

Only Available on the App Store, FREE (In-app purchases available)

Lego Creator Islands

lego-creator-islands-on-the-app-storeDo not want to carry a bag of Legos everywhere you go with your child. Well, let me introduce you to this app that lets your child build their own island using digital Legos.  Your child will learn what he/she need to build an environment and let his creativity run wild with his own type of world.

 

Ideally for Ages 9-11

Available on the App Store and Google Play, FREE

DIY  App- Creative Community for Kids

diy-app-creative-community-for-kids-on-the-app-store

Go beyond the coding apps, this app shows and help develops manual making. The app explains different types of making such as leatherworks, homebuilding, film, and the list goes on. Children learn by watching videos, gathering experience points, doing challenges and getting encouragement from fellow app users. Children gain online patches for each type of making completed.

Ideally for Ages 9-11

Available on the App Store, FREE

Robot School Programming for Kids

robot-school-programming-for-kids-free-on-the-app-storeKids love robots. This app lets your kid use coding to guide the robot to complete the task. There are multiple levels with each one getting more complicated by the time they complete the app they will be experts in coding. Sounds a bit complicated, no worries the app teaches the student how to use the app and the different coding commands.

 

Ideally for Ages 9-11

Available on the App Store, FREE or for extended version $3.99.

Also available on Google Play, $2.68.

There you have it, 5 great STEAM Making apps, that any parent, educator or maker enthusiasts can download. Remember,  Everyone is a Maker, so even adults can download these apps to learn.


Featured Image is Designed by Freepik

About the Author

12994313_10153754492989398_3332096439278684403_n

Maria Renteria, AmeriCorps VISTA 
Maria comes to us from the South Bay of Los Angeles. She has been a Maker since she can remember. She is excited to share this passion with Grass Valley Elementary students because she wants them to create their best memories of school through making like she did when she was little.

Finding Resources

Making does not have to be expensive for the educator to incorporate it into the classroom or for a parent to bring it into the home. It can be relatively cheap–you just have to know where to look for.

You can basically make a makerspace at no cost at all.  Below are some great places to look for free or cheap materials to bring making to your classroom or home.

Unconventional Resources- Creative Capacity Building Handout_To Pass out after talk

Download the Unconventional Resources document.

Don’t just stop with the places above, here are more great places to visit in the Bay Area:

  • Building REsource
    • This San Francisco non-profit usually carries all different types of wood, tools, tumbled glass and ceramics
  • FabMo’s
    • A creative reuse center in Mountain View, CA that rescues design fabric, wood, tiles, wallpapers, leathers and trim

For smaller scale projects these are some great places and tips to great free or cheap materials:

Home Depot, Lowe’s, and other hardware stores

  • Look for scrap piles of  wood, usually located by the cutting area.
  • If you ask them nicely and tell them it’s for a kid’s project or you are an educator, they can cut the pieces of wood.
  • Ask to speak to the manager so you can setup a date to stop by and collect as much as you can from the scrap pile (of course, flash your educator badge).

Local Stores

  • Ask if you can collect some of the cardboard. They usually are willing to work with you to get rid of cardboard. I recommend setting up a specific day you will stop by (for example, the second Monday of the month).
  • Stop by after the holidays during their clearance sales and ask if you can have any of their leftover holiday theme items. Again, flash your educator badge, and most of the time they will give you items for free.

These are just a few places and tips to help you get into making without breaking your budget, and it is a great way to start exercising your creativity by looking for supplies in random places.

Remember,

Our world is what we make it

 


About the Author

12994313_10153754492989398_3332096439278684403_n

Maria Renteria, AmeriCorps VISTA 
Maria comes to us from the South Bay of Los Angeles. She has been a Maker since she can remember. She is excited to share this passion with Grass Valley Elementary students because she wants them to create their best memories of school through making like she did when she was little.

 

 

 

 

Wonder Workshop debuts at Maker Faire

Wonder Workshop will be attending its first Bay Area Maker Faire on Saturday, May 20, 2017, from 10:00 am – 7:00 pm.

We will be a featured Maker copartnering with The Creativity Lab. Our booth will feature information and video about our makerspace and a small hands-on activity.

Our student buttons will be on available for a donation.

Culturally Responsive Making

Grass Valley Maker Night

Join us for the April East Bay Maker Educator Meetups (EBMEM) at Grass Valley Elementary in Oakland for a night of culturally responsive making!

We’ll begin by learning about Grass Valley Elementary’s recent event, Black History Month Family Making Night, an event that included students, parents, and teachers in a convergence of both traditional and new forms of making. Teacher on Special Assignment, Paula Mitchell, and Maker VISTA members Crystal Le and Maria Renteria will provide a presentation on this event devoted to honoring and exploring historic and modern contributions of African American innovators. After this presentation, we’ll dive into a hands-on making activity inspired by an African American innovator and explore culturally responsive making. 

Register for the event here.

Grass Valley Elementary is located at 4720 Dunkirk Ave in Oakland. There’s always plenty of street parking right out front. Please arrive ready to make!

Catch Us at Lighthouse Mini Maker Faire

We are excited to announce that we will be at the Lighthouse Maker Faire. Our students will be leading a maker station and there will be demonstrations by our Maker Ambassadors.

https---cdn.evbuc.com-images-29928553-85304489563-1-originalLighthouse Maker Faire takes place April 21, 2017, from 10 am -2 pm. Join us for  Wonder Workshop’s first official Maker Faire.

Register here to attend for free.

We hope to see you there and our students can’t wait to share their making knowledge with you.

Remember:

Our world is what we make it

Grass Valley’s Cohort 1 Maker Project Expo

Join us for our Maker Cohort 1 Project Expo, as they explore the question:

How can we, as food scientists, investigate ways to interact with food?

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Hope to see you there!

Intention and Impact at Grass Valley’s Black History Month Family Maker Night

Previously Published on Makered.org

February 27, 2017 by 

GV-Blog-405

This past Thursday, Maker VISTA partner site Grass Valley Elementary School in Oakland, CA held a Black History Month Family Maker Night & Heritage Potluck. This event featured a little bit of everything—making, breaking bread, discussion—and a whole lot of one thing: intention.

From the night’s theme of honoring and exploring historic and modern contributions of African American innovators; to its effect of including students, parents and teachers in a convergence of both traditional and new forms of making; down to the signage that invited youth and adults alike to snap selfies among acclaimed scholars and creators so as to envision themselves as #IAmNext, this event was thoughtfully designed to both engage and reflect the members of Grass Valley’s community.

 

African American Innovators Invite
Maker VISTA members created the invitation for the event

Maker VISTA members Crystal Le and Maria Renteria organized and fueled this event from start to finish, led by their phenomenal, powerhouse supervisor Paula Mitchell, a Teacher on Special Assignment for Maker Ed/PBL & Blended Learning. Together, this team solicited and comprised a panel of professionals, parents, and local makers to kick off the evening by sharing their diverse STEAM career paths, stories, struggles and successes with gathered guests. Then, Crystal, Maria and Paula choreographed a making and sharing progression down the school’s main hallway, utilizing color-coded tabs and music cues to weave students and parents in and out of pop-up classroom makerspaces. In each space, participants could take turns building their own interpretation of an African American innovator’s invention—entirely guided by a student maker. Stations in the spaces included opportunities to create lanterns, guitars, 3-D glasses, pens, three-wheeled vehicles, and even an x-ray.

 

 

First-Grade student Maker
A third-grade student leads the lantern making station

A particular moment of impact emerged when one of those student makers, a giddy and expert first-grader, explained to a handful of friends and peers (and this novice, yours truly) how to construct a lantern. The experience of having us in rapt attention, grouped around her, asking her for advice—in front of her mother and grandmother—made her bounce confidently on tip-toes, eager to answer all of us. She struck exactly the braggy balance between identifying what worked for her, and encouraging us to figure out what worked best for ourselves, all while showcasing to her family what she has been troubleshooting for several weeks. Like the tea-light lantern she proudly held up, she glowed.

 

 

After the hands-on activities, students and parents convened in the cafeteria for presentations by the first-ever cohort of Grass Valley Maker Ambassadors. These four students, from 3rd through 5th grade, had devoted the entire month to researching an African American innovator and developing a project inspired by that original work. They visited the school’s makerspace, the Wonder Workshop, during recess, library time, and after-school in order to devote time and effort to their self-driven explorations. Their completed projects were met with admiration and applause from their peers and parents as they received recognition from Paula on stage—but what’s more, each shared plans for continued making.

Paula and the Maker VISTAs mindfully coordinated this evening so that they could offer varied and numerous entry points for parents, staff, and visitors to engage in the environment and with the approaches that students are diving into everyday. From the materials, to the spaces, to the voices providing real-world context—voices ranging from a PG&E apprentice, to a designer and fashion professor, to a grandmother who started her own crafting business; from a principal, to an after-school specialist, to a first-grader explaining how a lantern functions—the event was structured to include, to invite, to inspire. Whether in small steps, along the periphery of a making station, or in emphatic cheers or laughs of delighted discovery, parents and families joined young makers in homage and in aspiration. Intention, with invention, made for an amazing event.


Maker Ed & AmeriCorps VISTA are the sponsors of the two Maker Ed VISTAs at Grass Valley Elementary School. For more information about applying for the Maker Ed VISTAs program, visit makered.org.