Creating video games to improve math’s and literacy in primary schools. 

Over the course of 8 weeks Signals visited a primary school in Stanway to deliver a series of tutorials, hands on workshops and challenges for a class of year 5 pupils, with an aim to devise, create and develop a series of video games created in Scratch programming language. Tutor Dave Norton tells us more and explores how they used video games as a learning tool.


We began by getting our heads around basic coding concepts, and got to grips with some simple functions. With these basic tools we were able to put together a game of pong, or an interactive quiz. We learnt how a player can move a character around the screen and how to code interactions with the other objects on the screen. We set aside time for pupils to experiment and play with their code, they discovered how to make their game more challenging, how to add new levels, or how to add animation to their game.

The class was divided into separate game studios, they came up with company names, logos, contracts and concepts for their game. They presented these ideas to the rest of the class and worked with feedback to ensure their ideas would create exciting and engaging games.

Over the project, pupils applied several mathematic concepts. Every object on screen needs to be given a X Y position, every time it moves it needs a direction to move in, a speed and distance, that’s a lot of code just to make your character move across the screen! Pupils had to understand concepts such as gravity and velocity and be able to represent it through code to make their character’s jump. They explored their creativity to devise storylines, characters, scenarios and enjoyed designing their digital artwork. A small group of students used a piece of software called Sonic Pi which allows you to create music through code, programming in individual notes and controlling synthesizers, loops and rhythm through code and numbers. They used this to create a soundtrack for their games.


Over weeks of hard work, problem solving and breakthroughs the pupils managed to complete their games within the deadline. We opened up the classroom to the rest of the school to test out and play the games and celebrate their success. Pupils had come along way in a very short time. From having a very basic understanding of coding to being able to confidently combine many complex functions. Pupils were proud of their achievements; they had been able to apply their classroom learning to a real life project and gained important skills that which enhance their approach to working across curriculums.


The pupils began the project with varying levels of confidence and understanding in ICT, maths and Literacy. Some had fantastically creative concepts for a game, but lacked the skill to realise their idea. Others picked up the coding elements easily, but lacked a direction for their game. By working in teams pupils were able to support each other and play to the strengths of the group. It was fantastic to see pupils teaching each other and combining their knowledge to create something that wouldn’t have been possible if they were working on their own. It was inspiring to see their commitment to the project, spending hours over trying to solve a problem in the code, and the breakthrough moments where the hard work and frustration paid off.

Experimenting with MakeyMakey




This project was delivered by Signals and Limbo Education, with funding from Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

Limbo Education is a Colchester based company which makes coding fun, creative and exciting! Delivering a range of hands-on workshops including robot building, Minecraft Hacking, video game making, raspberry pi and gadget building. Over the past year they have delivered projects for Essex County Council, Mercury Theatre, Firstsite, Signals and many Primary and Secondary Schools across Essex. Visit for more info.

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