Standard Lesson

Technical Reading and Writing Using Board Games

3 - 5
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Three 50-minute sessions
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Students work in small groups to create a game based on a novel they have read. Each game must be directly related to the novel, contain at least 25 questions, and be neatly created and contained within a folder. Each game must also include a brochure with student-written directions for how to play the game. Once the game is complete, students play it to test their instructions. Students then rotate through the room, playing all the games and leaving constructive comments at each. After discussing the results, each group has a chance to revise their game and/or instructions.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

In her article "Fifty Alternatives to the Book Report," Diana Mitchell writes: "Students tire of responding to novels in the same ways. They want new ways to think about a piece of literature and new ways to dig into it." This lesson invites students to respond to texts in a new way while also helping them focus on key points in their books and challenging them to write concisely and to "read like writers." By focusing on the key elements of fiction, this lesson  reinforces the reading-writing connection.

Further Reading

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Materials and Technology

  • Blank file folders
  • Colored paper, markers, crayons, glue, scissors
  • Note cards
  • Envelopes or zipper-seal bags
  • Paper clips
  • Writing Instructions Handout



Included in this site are the rules to many popular board games.

This site offers background information on technical writing, specifically instructions.

Links to the rules for a variety of games can be found here.


  1. For younger students, create several different "game board" formats on the computer. Have enough variety for students to choose from. Possibilities include the following:
    • Boxes or circles could be arranged to form pathways
    • One large circle could be formed for students to work their way toward the middle
    • A "Chutes and Ladders" format or a "Monopoly" format could be used.
  2. Additionally, you may wish to have younger students create some game questions on their own ahead of time to avoid a lull in activity when their groups first meet.
  3. Assemble classroom supplies and make copies of handouts for each group.
  4. Open the  ReadWriteThink Printing Press on your computers to familiarize yourself with the tools and ensure that you have the Flash plug-in installed. You can download the plug-in from the technical support page.
  5. For background information on technical writing, see Online Technical Writing: Instructions. Links to the rules for a variety of games can be found at Wikipedia's List of Board Games.

Student Objectives

Students will:

  • improve technical writing and reading skills through the process of creating a board game.
  • work together in small groups to accomplish a common goal
  • review ideas and events from fictional reading.
  • exercise creativity in the completion of a board game.
  • read and interpret the technical writing of other students.

Session One

  1. Separate students into small, heterogeneous groups (no more than five per group).
  2. Write the following ideason the chalkboard:
    • Design
    • Directions
    • Questions/Answers
  3. Explain to students that each group will be responsible for creating a board game with the following requirements:
    • The design covers how the game board, cover, cards, and pieces will look.
    • The directions, properly written and published using the ReadWriteThink Printing Press, explain how the game will be played.
    • Questions/Answers refer to the plot, characters, etc., from the class-read novel.
  4. Explain that the entire group will decide what the game will look like, how it will be played, and the number of questions and answers the game will include. Group members must be able to answer the questions and give input on how and what questions should be asked.
  5. Either assign or ask students to choose roles (ie. Designer, Director, Questioner) for the project. Emphasize that all members of each group should contribute to all aspects of the game.
  6. Give each group the Board Game Rubric that shows how each requirement will be assessed and discuss the requirements with students. The rubric will be kept by the students and turned in with their project.
  7. Show students all of the materials and explain the general game format.
  8. Demonstrate how to create the game board and related materials:
    • Open the folder and draw the game board or glue a game board handout to the inside of the folder. The layout should cover as much of the inside of the folder as it can with the game board. Stress that the boards should be neat and information complete.
    • Write the name of the game on the folder tab.
    • Write a draft of your game's instructions using the Writing Instructions handout. On this sheet, write a title, materials needed, game play steps, and any diagrams that will help people play your game.
    • Decorate the front cover of the folder with the game title and, for example, a scene from the novel.
    • Use the brochure option in the ReadWriteThink Printing Press to publish the instructions for playing the game. Place the finished brochure in the file folder.
    • Place all game pieces and question cards in envelopes. (Paper clips with colored paper attached to them make great player markers, and I provide dice for students to use when playing. Zipper-seal bags attached to the game board with tape also make great pockets to hold question cards and game pieces.)

Session Two

  1. In their groups, students will continue to work on the creation of their games.
  2. Once students have finished designing their games, suggest that they spend the rest of the class period playing their games to see if everything makes sense and works how they intended it to work.

Session Three

  1. Students may continue to play their own group's game, as well as those of the other groups. [Note: This only works if all students in the class have read the same novel for which they created their games].  Have them check against the Board Game Rubric for their own and others' formats, applying the rubric as a prompt for feedback.
  2. Rotate around to each station in the room, playing each game for about ten minutes. Students should leave comments on a piece of paper at each station and at the end of the class period vote on which games had the best design, were the most fun to play, had the most easily understood directions, the most creative concept, etc.
  3. The following questions can be used to prompt a post-lesson discussion and reflection:
    • What would you do differently to your game now that you've played everyone else's?
    • How do you think your group worked together?
    • How do you think you could have gotten things done more efficiently?
    • What was it that made some games more fun to play than others?
    • How important was it to write good directions?
    • What did you learn from this project?
  4. Give students the opportunity to make changes to their games after having the above discussion. You also may choose to use the Student Rubrics that they handed in with their projects as an assessment tool.


  • If students read different novels for this project and created a variety of games, they can be kept in the classroom "game closet" to be used as review when other students complete the respective novels.

Student Assessment / Reflections

  • Students are assessed informally through their group work and post-lesson discussion and reflection, and formally using the Board Game Student Rubric.