Non-Digital Games in the Primary Classroom


This one-day course helps you unlock the power of non-digital games in your classroom - from board games to card games, dice games, physical games, word games and beyond. From K through to 6, games can be great teaching resources right across the curriculum - as well as an opportunity to develop important emotional and social skills.

On completion of the course, teachers will be able to find, analyse and select suitable commercial and freely available games; plan for effective integration of these games into their classroom activity; use game design as project-based learning; develop and evolve their own bespoke non-digital games; and use games as formative and summative assessment tools.

Beyond the simple joy of play, games can facilitate a range of learning objectives.

Topic Knowledge and Skills

Games can provide the motivation and engagement that helps students build knowledge and skills within a particular topic – from literacy to numeracy, from physical education to visual art.

Arithmetic rehearsal becomes a chance to rid the world of super-villains in Numbers League, while players in Timeline improve their recall of historical dates – from innovations to world events.

Critical and Creative Thinking

Understanding the mechanics of gameplay, and generating novel approaches gives students an opportunity to practice critical thinking and creativity.

Some students will relish the challenge of seeing how many moves they can think ahead in Gobblet Gobblers while others will enjoy the imaginative storytelling of Once Upon a Time.

Social and Emotional Development

The social experience of gameplay creates the perfect conditions to work on communication skills and personal traits from resilience to empathy.

Collaborative games like Forbidden Island give students the chance to work together, while players in Diplomacy develop their interpersonal negotiation skills.

Register Interest

Want to learn how to unlock the power of games in your classroom?

We run this course as a full day workshop for groups of 4 to 12 teachers. Generally we run the course on-site for schools who want to build the skills of a number of their teachers, but we also organise 'open' courses where we invite teachers from different schools to attend individually or in small groups.


Completing Non-Digital Games in the Primary Classroom will contribute six hours of QTC Registered PD addressing 3.3.2, 3.4.2 and 5.1.2 from the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers towards maintaining Proficient Teacher Accreditation in NSW.

Select and use relevant teaching strategies to develop
knowledge, skills, problem-solving and critical and creative

Select and/or create and use a range of resources,
including ICT, to engage students in their learning.

Develop, select and use informal and formal, diagnostic,
formative and summative assessment strategies to assess
student learning.


'Cathedral' was inspired by the architecture around Christchurch cathedral in New Zealand. Two players take turns to capture areas by placing geometric buildings - an excellent game for spatial thinking and strategic planning.

Find the perfect games for your classroom

With so many games available - from traditional collections, commercial games publishers, educational games publishers, and amateur authors - it can be daunting to try and find news games. The course introduces you to some outstanding recent games, a curated selection of sources for new games, and a simple but effective rubric for assessing potential games.

Once you have decided to use a particular game as part of your teaching, it's important to ensure you implement it for maximum success. This means drawing on 'Teaching Games for Understanding' research (TGfU) when introducing a game to the class. We also share a range of tips and tricks to getting the most out of games with your class with the least hassle.


In 'Labyrinth', players take turns sliding rows of tiles back and forth to create paths toward the objects they seek. The simple mechanic encourages tactical planning and spatial visualisation.

Design and 'mod' your own classroom games

There are lots of great games out there, but sometimes it's even more effective to create your own. By modifying existing games, or building your own from the ground up, you can tailor games to focus on particular topic areas, or specific learning outcomes. Which topics do you find it difficult to for students to engage with? Which skills require more practice but become monotonous? Which personal traits are you looking for opportunities to foster in your students?

We take you through a simple step-by-step game design process, from identifying your learning objective to prototyping your play mechanic. By the end of the day you will have created a game from scratch, that you can take into the classroom and start using.


Perfect as a platform for building oral and written narrative skills, 'Rory's Story Cubes' (and the many expansions) invite players to create stories inspired by what they roll.

Create integrated game-design class projects

While playing games can be a fun and engaging learning exercise for students, it often pales when compared to the immersive experience of creating their own game. A well planned game-design project builds deep understanding in a topic area, which also giving students an opportunity to draw on their creative ability, literacy, numeracy, and artistic skills.

The course integrates techniques developed by the Institute of Play in New York with the project-based learning methodology. The result in a student-directed process, inviting complete integrated across key learning areas.


A fantastic 'first boardgame' for young children, 'Orchard' is a collaborative turn-taking game where players work together to pick all the fruit before the raven arrives.

Be inspired by examples from around the world

Throughout the day, we will showcase best practice from around the world - showing how educators are successfully integrating games into their teaching strategies.

Video case studies include 'Quest to Learn' and the Institute of Play; John Hunter's 'World Piece Game'; Brenda Romero's 'The Mechanic is the Message' series; and the curriculum-aligned civilisation-building game 'Historia'.


The hugely popular, critically acclaimed 'Settlers of Catan' has been used by teachers around the world. It gives students a personal appreciation of key historical and sociological concepts, as well as building skills in negotiation and planning.

Meet the team

The 'Non-Digital Games in the Primary Classroom' course was developed by three of our training specialists at Schoolhouse, who are also passionate believers in the power of play and game-based learning. Each time we run the course it will be delivered by one of the three course authors.

Brett Rolfe
Executive Director, Schoolhouse Centre for Progressive Education

Brett leads a number of initiatives for Schoolhouse, including the advocacy of game-based learning. He is a passionate advocate of the power of games as tools for behavior change. He has written on the topic for the marketing trade press and is the Australiasian lead of Naked Play, a global initiative to promote play-based marketing.

Ben Rolfe
Lecturer in Serious Games Development, University of the Sunshine Coast

Ben currently teaches Serious Game Design and Programming within the Bachelor of Creative Industries. He is leading the development of a Serious Games degree at the University of the Sunshine Coast, and has authored numerous papers on the use of game play as a tool for learning and social change.

Donovan Stone
Learning, Development and Training Consultant

Donovan is a highly experienced adult learning specialist, with over ten years experience in developing and delivering corporate training. He holds a diploma of management from the Australian Institute of Management as well Certificate IV qualifications in both Training and Assessment as well as Training and Development.


The deceptively simple 'Carcassonne' challenges players to think topologically. For younger students 'My First Carcassonne' removes some of the complexity of play, but retains the core themes for learning.


'Non-Digital Games in the Primary Classroom' is part of The Schoolhouse Centre for Progressive Education's 'Games for the Classroom' initiative.