Game-Based Learning: A Beginners Guide For Elementary Teachers

Game-based learning is an educational approach that uses games to teach and reinforce academic concepts to your students. This teaching approach offers students a number of benefits and can be easily integrated into other lesson plans.

Ready to put your game face on and learn more about this type of teaching? Then let’s get started!

What is game-based learning?

Game-based learning incorporates games, both digital and non-digital, into the learning process to engage students, enhance their understanding, and motivate them to continue learning.This teaching approach is all about making learning fun, interactive, and immersive!

This style, however, is not to be confused with gamification. Gamification in education involves adding game elements, such as points or badges, into non-game contexts to make them more engaging. Game-based learning, on the other hand, is centered around usual actual games as a core part of the instructional process.

Creating a point system for class participation would be considered gamification while having students play a computer science game like Kodable to reinforce problem solving skills would be game-based learning. More on Kodable later…

Benefits of game-based learning

Game-based learning offers students a number of unique learning benefits including:

Increases student engagement and motivation

When students are having fun and actively participating in games, they are more likely to retain information and grasp complex concepts. This is backed by a recent study that found that key game-based learning elements including feedback, choice, and collaboration have a positive impact on student engagement. The more engaged students are, the more motivated they are to continue playing and learning.

Builds problem solving skills for students

Game-based learning also helps promote problem solving and critical thinking skills by requiring students to think strategically, make decisions, gather and respond to new information, and more as they progress through playing a game.

Introduces students to situational learning

Being able to apply past knowledge to solve a new and unique problem is a critical life skill for students to learn. This situation learning doesn’t happen overnight but game-based learning can help students start to build this skill set in a safe classroom setting by applying lessons learned to new real-world situations.

Overall, game-based learning can help your students change the way they approach learning and make school much more engaging and meaningful.

Game-based learning examples

There are a ton of great game-based learning examples to choose from and help you get inspired. To get you started we’ve picked a few different examples broken out by grade level below:

Kindergarten game-based learning examples

Alphabet Hunt - Hide letters of the alphabet around the classroom or in a designated play area. Students must find the letters and say the corresponding letter sound when they discover them.

Number Line Hopscotch - Create a giant number line on the floor using tape. Students take turns hopping on the numbers, and as they land on a number, they have to say the number that comes before or after.

1st Grade game-based learning examples

Sight Word Bingo - Create Bingo cards with sight words instead of numbers. Call out sight words, and students mark them off on their cards as they hear them.

Math Fact Race - Design a racing game where students solve math problems to move their game piece forward. For example, "2+3" or "7-4".

2nd Grade game-based learning examples

Fraction Pizza - Use paper or cardboard to create fraction "pizza slices." Students have to assemble a whole pizza using fractions like 1/4, 1/2, or 3/4.

Kodable’s Beach Cleanup - Have students program their fuzz to navigate a series of challenges to pick up litter to help clean the beach in this fun activity that also helps introduce students to programming!

Your students can play online today or you can create your own free Kodable account to have your students explore more fun learning activities!

3rd Grade game-based learning examples

Historical Scavenger Hunt - Create a scavenger hunt with historical facts hidden around the classroom or school. Students search for the facts and match them to the corresponding historical event or figure.

​​Multiplication Puzzles - Design puzzles where students have to match multiplication equations with their correct answers. For example, connecting "3 x 4" to "12".

4th Grade game-based learning examples

Grammar Ninja - Turn grammar practice into a game where students act as "Grammar Ninjas" and identify parts of speech (e.g., nouns, verbs, adjectives) in sentences.

Geography Challenge - Use a map-based game where students locate countries, states, or landmarks based on clues provided, helping them reinforce their geography knowledge.

5th Grade game-based learning examples

Science Jeopardy - Play a Jeopardy-style game where students answer questions related to various science topics they have studied. Here’s a great Jeopardy game template in Google Slides to get you started!

Decimals Duel - Create a competitive game where students compare decimals and decide which one is greater or lesser.

Game–based learning platforms

Our above examples are some of the more creative ways to incorporate games into your classroom but thankfully there are a ton of great game resources available to plug and play right away!

Kodable Kahoot! Screenshot


Kahoot! is a game-based learning platform that allows you to create interactive quizzes, discussions, and surveys to help reinforce learnings from your lesson plans.

Quizlet screenshot


Quizlet’s platform lets you create flashcards, quizzes, and study games for your students to reinforce material or just to have a fun study game!

EdPuzzle Screenshot


EdPuzzle is an interactive video platform that allows you to customize and enhance educational videos by adding questions, quizzes, and notes to engage students and assess their comprehension.

Online Teaching Tool Kodable Screenshot


Kodable is a programming game that helps teach students from kindergarten through 5th the basics of computer programming in a fun and engaging way. This easy-to-use activity uses self-paced lessons, immediate feedback, and unlimited creative activities to help you bring game-based learning into your classroom this year!

Create your own Kodable account today to get started!