Game Development for 2nd graders TeachNow Module 3 Unit 3

This project was a group collaboration between Conor Town, Adam Ortega, and me. Conor Town is the person who did all illustrations.


Oh no! Our sentences have been scrambled by the monsters in this PAC-MAN style arcade game. Can you find them and reorder them for us? You’ll have to move through the maze quickly to pick up the words, but watch out! If the monster sees you… you’ll waste valuable time in the safe zone when he starts chasing after you. Hopefully, you can gather all the words before time runs out to answer each landmark’s riddle.
Instructional Objective:

I can recognize and order sentences in order to internalize and practice the sentence structure principles.

The game is focused on supplementing these common core curriculum standards for 2nd grade English speaking learners (Common Core Standards Initiative, 2018).

  • Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing and speaking
    • Use adjectives and adverbs and choose between them depending on what is to be modified.
    • Produce, expand, and rearrange complete simple and compound sentences.
    • Use collective nouns
    • Form and use frequently occurring irregular plural nouns
    • Use reflexive pronouns such as (myself, yourself)

The collective nouns and irregular plural nouns are incorporated in the sentences throughout the game for exposure purposes. The rest of the objectives are met throughout the course of the game as we focus on the parts of speech that make up a sentence. The students will have to order the sentences correctly before time runs out.

In addition, this will teach learners how to think about sentence structure. Sentence structure, because of prepositional phrases, transition words, and many other conventions has multiple solutions. By exposing students to the idea that sentences can be constructed correctly in a variety of orders, they will internalize this principle, and hopefully when confronted with a difficult sentence look for multiple solutions instead of getting stuck on a formulaic response (Chris, 2013).
First Level Objective:

I can recognize nouns, adjectives, pronouns, verbs, as well as the period and order them in a statement format.


  1. Momosuke climbed.
  2. He looked down.
  3. Hanon stopped to drink her warm tea.
  4. She enjoyed the hike.

Second Level Objective:

I can recognize adverbs and put them in a sentence.


  1. Seth quietly entered the Pharaoh’s terrifying tomb.
  2. He studied the ancient artifact closely.
  3. Rashida quickly moved through narrow tunnels.
  4. She is carefully wrapped up like a mummy.

Third Level Objective:

I can recognize a preposition and order a prepositional phrase.


  1. Through the ruins, Jose observantly walked.  
  2. The llama stood nobly in front of the mountains.
  3. Alessandra is staring carefully at the terraces.  
  4. From the ruins, she will see how the Inca lived.

Fourth Level Objective:

I can order a prepositional phrase and place it in a sentence.


  1. Gabriela watched as the poison dart frog hopped along the branch.
  2. The blue morpho butterfly landed on the flower.
  3. Lucas is going to see the animals that live in the canopy.
  4. Be careful not to walk through the spider’s web.

Fifth Level Objective:

I can order a prepositional phrase and place it in a compound sentence


  1. The gargoyles watch over the building, but there is also more modern security.
  2. Jeanne stood in front of the rose window, while her friend took a picture.
  3. Pierre couldn’t enter the crypt, so he looked through the window.
  4. Carla won’t see the bells on the floor, but she’ll see the organ.  

Sixth Level Objective:

I can recognize the conjunctions and, so, as well as or. And I can use it to connect two independent clauses.


  1. It was an amazing building, but it didn’t age well.
  2. The arch is next to the colosseum, so it’s easy to find.
  3. Most of the palace is gone, but you can still see some statues.
  4. It burned to the ground, but it was rebuilt.

Seventh Level Objective:

I can recognize reflexive pronouns and transition words as well as use both groups while creating compound sentences.


  1. Xi walked along the wall by himself, then he came across some tourists.
  2. Yiran took a picture of herself, and Keran laughed.
  3. Xingchen talks to herself, but she doesn’t sing.
  4. I am going to space myself to see if I can see the wall.

Eighth Level Objective:

I can recognize the conjunctions but and however and use them to connect two independent clauses. 


  1. Some people call it the Kimberly Diamond Mine, however Australians call it the Argyle Diamond Mine.
  2. The diamonds from this mine are pink or red, but the diamonds in Arkansas are brown.
  3. It may be a diamond mine, but it was found by people searching for gold.
  4. The diamonds are mined in Kimberly, but sold in Perth.

Ninth Level Objective:

I can recognize the six different question words and create sentences using them.


  1. Who designated the park as a national park? President Hoover designated the park in 1932.
  2. Where are the tallest sand dunes? The tallest sand dunes in North American are in Colorado, but they’re not the tallest in the world.
  3. Who were the first people to live there? The Ute Tribe lived there over 10,000 years ago.
  4. What is the climate like? It is a desert, but it can snow in the winter.


Our target audience is students at a second grade English level in Japan. On average, they are between 7-9 years old. They all come from a high socio-economic class, and the majority are Japanese, so English is not their native language. The average student will have access to a computer and potentially a cell phone. Therefore, this will likely not be their first experience with a computer. The gender between classes is about 50:50. Most would be considered high-achieving students due to the entrance exam they must pass to enter our school.


From our personal observations, sentence structure can be very difficult for non-native English speakers. This is particularly true for those who speak Japanese as their first language, because the sentence structures are almost inverted. Also, important concepts for English, like prepositional phrases, don’t have a corresponding Japanese grammatical structure.

Good learning involves students believing that what they do matters. A game can really be a good way to create this belief. Since the students are a main character, they will feel more invested because they are in charge of moving the story along. What was previously an arduous task, has now become a tool to move the story forward. So, the students are more motivated to repeat and practice the sentence formation skills (Chris, 2013).

Furthermore, we hope to provide an environment that is positive and low risk. Many students feel anxious when they respond incorrectly to a question- this can be particularly true for students that are high-achieving. With a game like this, the students are given positive and constructive feedback quickly. This immediate feedback, which is difficult to give in a class of fifteen, has been shown to be critical for students’ learning. Plus, it reduces the embarrassment the students feel when giving an incorrect answer. The feedback can also reduce the amount of errors that the student makes, since many students make the same error consistently (Shapiro, 2014) (Chris, 2013).

Finally, the game keeps the students at a “pleasantly frustrated level”(Chris, 2013). Because students cannot advance until they master the principles are able to produce them within a time limit, a good game acts as an automatic scaffold for their learning. By keeping them challenged but not overly frustrated, the students are more likely to enter that cognitive flow state that is optimum for learning. A game automatically moves higher-level learners up faster, reducing the chance that they will feel bored and check out, while not moving other learners up before they master the sentence structure concept (Chris, 2013).

Context of Use

We for-see it as a supplemental tool that can be used as a reward while preparing for testing. Games are exciting. Students view video games as fun, and we plan to commandeer those positive emotions, and harness them for learning about sentence structure! In this way, the supplemental tool also becomes reward.

The teacher still explains the principles of sentence structure, but repetition is key to internalizing sentence structure rules. If playing a game provides a fun, positive way to do normally mundane repetition, then we’re all for it! Furthermore, the game will provide key, individualized support for students who need it, while also allowing us to identify who is falling behind by whether they can advance through the levels with only moderate difficulty (Shapiro, 2014). This way, we know whom to give quick, more personalized feedback to before the achievement gap becomes too wide.


The goal of this arcade game is to explore all the different landmarks around the world going to: Mt. Fuji, pyramids of Egypt, Machu Picchu, Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Brazilian rainforest, the ruins in Rome, the Great Wall of China, Kimberley Diamond Mind, and the Great Sand Dunes of Colorado. After completing each maze, the character gets a word that can be used to complete the riddle at the end of the level to get past the guardian.

At first, we hope the students will be unable to complete the entire game before the end of a 45 minute class. During the first semester, we would hope that students could complete the first three stations’ riddles. By the end of second semester, we would hope the students could complete the first six stations’ riddles, and by the end of the three semesters, we hope that they will be able to quickly complete all the word scramble mazes before the end of class. A hard mode could be used for very advanced students that leads into third grade sentence structure.
Object of the Game

The goal of the game is to explore all the landmarks while successfully picking up the words in their correct order to master the principles of sentence structure. Students will complete sentences in roughly 5 mazes per level, avoiding the monsters to receive the words that can be used to answer the riddle to get past the guardian at the end of the level. At the end, they see the sun rise at the top of the mountain in the land of the rising sun. They’ll also get the satisfaction of outsmarting the monsters.

Design Details

Universal Elements

Overall, the game is supposed to have a cartoony, retro-arcade vibe. The illustrations are cute and colorful since the target audience is second graders. And the graphics overall have a cheeky, cheerful vibe to them. The sounds will change to reflect the level your exploring.


The sprites consist of two different types:

Class A) The main characters all look vaguely like students. The character design is the same among all the levels.

Class B) The monsters of the stage look a lot like the Japanese style oni. The character design is the same among all the level.

The guardians don’t move, and are static images on the screen; therefore, they aren’t sprites.


What is the environment like?

The characters move on each level in a maze. The maze is PACMAN like. The maze stays the same but changes colors and has a landmark in the center reflective of the location as the game moves on. This landmark in the center is also the guardian that you have to answer the riddle for. There is always a safe zone at the bottom right corner of the screen where you can flee if a monster is chasing you.

However if a monster is chasing you, you’ll sacrifice time waiting in the safe zone for approximately 15 seconds until the monster loses interest and resumes its patrol.

The time and location breakdown is as follows:

  • Level 1 (Mount Fuji): Each maze has a time limit of 5 minutes.
  • Level 2 (Egyptian Pyramids King Tut’s Tomb): Each maze has a time limit of  5 minutes.
  • Level 3 (Machu Picchu): Each maze has a time limit of 5 minutes.
  • Level 4 (Brazilian Rainforest): Each maze has a time limit of 8 minutes.
  • Level 5 (Cathedral of Notre Dame): Each maze has a time limit of 8 minutes.
  • Level 6 (The Ruins of Rome): Each maze has a time limit of 8 minutes.
  • Level 7 (The Great Wall of China): Each maze has a time limit of 10 minutes.
  • Level 8 (The Kimberly Diamond Mines): Each maze has a time limit of 10 minutes.
  • Level 9 (The Sand Dunes of Colorado): Each maze has a time limit of 10 minutes.
    • Each level is composed of 5 mazes.

(*** The times are really long to prevent newer learners from stressing)


Character Movements

The main character sprites will model their motion after PACMAN. They will be able to move up, down, left, right,  and backwards. The sprites do not press a button to pick things up instead they run into the item to pick it up.

Sprites can also run around an item to avoid picking it up when fleeing. This is the slight difference between PAC-MAN where you must pick up every item. But our words have to be picked up in the correct sequence, so we need the option of side stepping a word and saving it for later. If you pick up an unnecessary word, an alarm sounds alerting the oni to find you. If you pick up a word out of order, an alarm sounds alerting the monster to find you as well.
We generated this graphic to show what keys are necessary for movement. Additionally, the enter key can be used to pause the game. And the mouse is used to navigate the achievement screens. On a touch screen, instead of using arrow keys, the spaces on the board become touchable objects and characters are moved by touching adjacent squares.

Monsters move in a pre-programmed patrol. They chase after the character when the character enters their line of sight. Monsters will eventually lose interest if you can stay out of their line of sight for longer than 20 seconds. They also lose interest if you stand in a safe zone, but you receive a 15 second penalty on the clock.  Monsters increase in speed as you advance through the mazes. Monsters are always fastest during the fifth maze in a level since this is the boss level.

Other Rules

There are a couple of rules during gameplay

  • If you’re caught by a monster, you have to restart the maze stage. You can be caught by a monster an infinite amount of times. It will never send you back to the start of the level.
    • If you get sent back to the start of the level, you also have to complete the mazes that you previously have done. For instance, if you’re on the 4th maze of the 5 maze level and you get sent back to the start of the level, that means you have to do the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd stages again.
  • If you pick up a word out of the correct order(s) for the sentence 1-3 times, the monster will chase you.
  • If you pick up a word out of the correct order for the sentence more than three times, you have to restart the level.
  • If you run out of time 1-5 times, you have to restart the maze stage each time you run out of time.
  • If you run out of time more than 5 times, you are sent back to the previous maze stage.
    • For example if you are on maze 4 of level 2, you will be sent back to maze 3 of level 2.
  • You will receive a word or phrase that will help you answer the riddle at the end of the 5 mazes. Once you answer this riddle, you will unlock the next landmark map.
  • Anytime you enter the safe zone, you receive a penalty of 15 seconds.
  • You have to complete all 5 mazes within the time limit to advance to the next level.
  • There are 9 levels in the game.


What are the riddles at the end of the stage?

Some examples of riddles we’re planning on using are

  1. Q: Mary’s father has 5 daughters – Nana, Nene, Nini, Nono. What is the fifth daughters name?
    1. Mary is the daughter’s name.
  2. Q: How can a pants pocket be empty and still have something in it?
    1. A: There’s a hole in it.
  3. Q: A man was driving his truck. His lights were not on. The moon was not out. Up ahead,  woman was crossing the street. How did he see her?
    1. A: It was a sunny day!

How are we assessing?

This is supposed to be a fun activity that acts as a supplement in their learning process. We will use this game  to have our students practice the sentence structure rules in a fun and practical way. Lots of times rote-memorization is rather tedious; but by using the game, it should be more effective and engaging.

Also if the students are unable to achieve the benchmarks we mentioned in the scope section of our proposal, then we know that they might need extra help when doing other assignments related to sentence structure. In addition, we will be able to identify high-achieving learners based on how quickly they advance through the level.  Knowing which students are struggling with the objective and which students have already mastered the objective is integral because we can use that information to design lessons and groups that are more effective for all the learners in our class.

Example Run Through:

  1. The character arrives at the first landmark, Mt. Fuji.
  2. The learning target for the level appears on the screen.
  3. After that, the game screen with the maze appears. And a prompt appears letting players know they need to pick up the words in the correct order and the consequences of making a mistake.
  4. Next, a prompt appears about avoiding the monster and how to avoid it as well as the consequences for being caught.
  5. Finally a prompt appears about the timer at the bottom and the consequences when time runs out.
  6. The player now is able to enter the maze.
  7. The player picks up the words and is then given the first word in the answer to the riddle.
  8. The player repeats this pattern excluding the prompts appearing at the beginning until they complete 5 mazes.
  9. When they complete the fifth maze, the riddle is finish and appears on screen as solved.
  10. The player moves onto the next level.
  11. The time it took the players to complete the level is also recorded on the scoreboard.

Design Image Details

The game should be light-hearted and fun, with cartoonishly illustrated characters for both the monsters and children. The final product would allow for the selection of children of equal gender balance and diverse race representation for your player avatar.

Here are some mock screenshots of game screens.

Character select:

Stage Screen:

Game Screen:

Technical Elements

The game would be coded using the Love2D engine, which is able to deploy to multiple platforms including computers, handheld devices, and game consoles. The game would be developed for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. Between those four, it should cover most modern devices you would find in a classroom. The screen size is 1920 x 1080, commonly known as 1080p. Most modern devices are at this screen size or share a similar aspect ratio. For smaller screens, the graphics can be seamlessly downscaled in Love2D. The graphics would all be PNG images, which maintain image quality and allow for transparent pixels, and the sounds including music would be OGG files, which are similar to MP3 but can be used without a license.


Chris, T. (2013, November 13).  Jim Gee principles on learning. Retrieved February 27, 2018 from

Common Core State Standards Initiative. (2018). English language standards: Grade 2. Retrieved from

DMLResearchHub. (2011, August 4). Games and education scholar James Paul Gee on video games, learning, and literacy. Retrieved February 27, 2018 from

Dodge, B. (n.d.). EDTEC 670: Exploratory Learning Through Educational Simulation and Games. Retrieved from

Dodge, B. (2002), ET670 Design Template. Retrieved from (URL no longer valid.)

Roggencamp, D.  (n.d.) Outbreak. Retrieved from

Shapiro, J. (2014, June 27). Games in the classroom: What the research says. KQED News Retrieved from


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