How to Create Games on YouTube

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 11.06.20 AMEvery teacher should work to move students from consumers of digital content to creators of digital content. This step is not as difficult as one would think, especially if students are creating simple math or language videos. When your students are ready for the next challenge, you can take advantage of YouTube’s annotation system to make interactive games or stories. For example, my third grade students put together these episodes of the “homophone game” (must be played on a computer, not mobile):
YouTube Preview Image
YouTube Preview Image

Games like this require time to create, but they are the perfect project for eager students who tend to finish other activities quickly. Students could take YouTube games in multiple directions, but let’s start by focusing specifically on how we produced episodes of the “homophone game”. My students used four applications:

  1. PicCollage on the iPad (any slide-preparing app would work)
  2. Doodlecast on the iPad (another screen-casting app would work)
  3. YouTube Annotations
  4. YouTube Audio (optional but recommended)
Step One – Create the Plan
Instead of breaking out the technology right away, we started with pencil and paper. Students IMG_0281chose a homophone, then created six or more sentences using the different versions of the homophone. We kept the best 4-5 sentences for the game.
Step Two – Create the Slides

Using the application PicCollage, students created colorful slides to illustrate their sentences. We collageused clear and simple slides for the example sentences (solid-color background, easy-to-read font), and they could do whatever they wanted to the “wrong answer” and “correct” slides. To make the game, we needed:

  • A Title Slide
  • An Explanation Slide
  • 4-5 Sentence Slides
  • A Correct Answer Slide
  • A Wrong Answer Slide
Step Three – Create the Videos

Using DoodleCast pro, we made 6-7 short videos for each game. The breakdown:

  • An introduction/explanation video with the first sentence (about 1 minute long)
  • 3-4 “right answer” + next question videos (about 30 seconds)
  • A wrong answer video (about 15 seconds)
  • A finishing video (15-30 seconds)

The best way to get a sense of these is to play the game. We usually waited until the end to create the introduction/explanation, since it had to be the longest and most polished. Also, having learned a lesson from hundreds of previously published student videos, I created a shared YouTube account for students to publish (so I don’t have to log in to my account every time).

Step Four – Link the Videos with Annotations

Although I’ve had success with students using YouTube Annotations in the past, this was the first time I’ve had them link videos together. It’s probably the most technically intimidating aspect of the project, but 8 year olds pulled it off without too many problems. This video explains exactly how to do it:

YouTube Preview Image


Step Five – Add Music

Technically this step is optional, but I think the music adds a lot to the game experience and energy of the videos. I’ve written a post about how to use YouTube Audio, or again, just watch this video:

YouTube Preview Image


Step Six – Share and Have Fun

It may seem like a long and complicated process for a 5 minute game, but the students love making them, and they are fun to play as well. I’d love to get other students playing these and creating videos of their own, so please comment if you’ve shared these with your students or if they’ve made one of their own. And as always, please let me know if you have any questions about the process.

Celebrating 100+ Student-Created Videos (course 5 final project)

For my COETAIL final project, I had three goals. I wanted my students to:

  1. develop their vocabularies
  2. use technology to communicate their learning in new ways
  3. teach other students (from classes in our school and beyond)

To achieve these goals, my students learned new words, created videos on ipads (using DoodleCast Pro), and published through youtube and google sites. Here’s one example:

YouTube Preview Image


To see our entire library (or dictionary) of student created videos, click here.

Once my students had learned new words, turned them into videos, and published them to the world, it made sense to keep the momentum going with some kind of goal. Shortly after creating our google site with about 30 videos, we decided that 100 vocabulary videos was an ambitious but achievable goal. We whipped up a quick chart and were on our way. IMG_0598

We created new videos about once a week, usually in pairs (there are 19 students in my class). We used the kids teaching kids method to get the neighboring 4th graders involved, but most of the work was done by my class. Two weeks ago, we hit our goal (though my students show no sign of wanting to slow down or stop).

Most of this process has been documented on this blog, so I will post a few links and fill in the blanks in areas that I haven’t covered. Here is the idea in its infancy, and an update a month and a half later. There have been some minor tweaks, but the steps used to create the videos have remained largely the same throughout the process:

  • Students choose words that they already learned and are confident they can use (more on how and why to teach vocabulary).
  • Students write a script for their videos. Here is the template we use. The most important parts, or at least what I emphasize the most, are the two example sentences. We try to create examples that show different contexts in which the word may be used. This is also a great way to assess the depth of students’ understanding.
  • Students draw two pictures to go with their example sentences.
  • When the script and illustrations are finished, I quickly check them and the students can get iPads and use DoodleCast Pro to create slides. Then they record. I publish all of the videos to my youtube account. I’m not sure if this is the most efficient way to go about things, so I’ve thought about creating a youtube account just for the student vocabulary videos. That would allow me to share the password and students could upload their own videos. For now though, they are all on my page.
  • Once the videos are published, my students add annotations with YouTube editor. You can make this step optional, but my 3rd graders figured it out quickly.
  • Finally, we collect the videos on a google site.
  • My students became so efficient at communicating through this medium that we easily created some math tutorials using similar methods.

Once the site was up and running, we kept cranking out the videos, but it took some time before we moved onto our third goal of teaching others with the videos. In fact, I checked the website analytics in March and realized nobody was using the site:

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Most of the student learning had been completed, but to reach the “Redefinition” stage of the SAMR model (and to have an authentic, global audience), I knew we needed to connect with people outside of our classroom.


We started with the other third grade class from our school. My students created a worksheet with some example sentences, we explained how to access and use the website, and that was it. I let my students wander around the room like real teachers to help people who had questions, but I think their favorite part was checking the work of others. Then they gave feedback to their students, which I hope enhanced their own understandings of the nuance of words. Soon the second and fourth grades were on board as well.

And to make the project truly go beyond the classroom walls, we connected with schools in China and the Philippines to learn from our website. Again, reaching a large number of people was not the main point, but by mid-April we were getting hundreds of website page views every week:

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The true success of the project, however, can be measured in confidence with which my students use the new words they’ve learned, and in the enthusiasm they have for wanting to learn and share more.

Although this marks the end of course 5, this project is in some ways just beginning. Only a few classes have used our videos, but we would love to get more involved (please contact me or leave a comment if you are interested). At this point, two classes at my school have made videos, but the other classes who have been using our website are ready to start making their own tutorials. If we combine forces with other classes and then other schools, the number of student-created videos could easily be in the thousands, not the hundreds.

I hope to keep posting here to let you know how it goes. Please leave a comment if you have thoughts or want to get involved. Thanks!