Fun with Stamps

By Su Tuan Lulee for EDTEC 670, SDSU

Overview | Instructional Objective | Learners | Context | Scope | Object of Game | Design Details | Competing Products |Motivational Issues | Design Process|References|EDTEC Assignments Home


Postage stamps illustrate the cultural development of those nations that issue them. Governments use stamps to carry messages, publicizing special events and memorizing achievements.

Stamps are great collections that fill with images of people, animals, places, and historical events; art, sport, music, dance; mathematics and science. Using stamps in the classroom is an ideal way to introduce topics in different areas of the curriculum.

The generic idea of creating Fun with Stamps is to provide an interesting tools that can support players review science, social science, and math that they have learned at school.

Instructional Objective

Fun with Stamps is designed to help Grade 3-5 students as a support tool for formal learning on science, social science and mathematics. Through playing the game, student will

  • transfer knowledge learned from courses of natural & social science, and mathematics to solve given questions derived from stamps.
  • Organize information about people, places, objects, and environments to find hidden objects or put pieces together in doing puzzle.

In terms of standards, this game will meet some of the national standards for related grades as well as the California state content standards:


National Science Teaching Standards

Standard A.3: Teachers select teaching and assessment strategies that support the development of student understanding and nurture a community of science learners.

Standard E.3: Teachers nurture collaboration among students

California Content Standards

Standard 3a: Students know examples of diverse life forms in different environments, such as oceans, deserts, tundra, forests, grasslands, and wetlands.

Social Science

National Standards for Geography

Standard 2: Use mental maps to organize information about people, places, and environments in a spatial context.

Standard 4: The physical and human characteristics of places.

Standard 6: How culture and experience influence people's perceptions of places and regions.

National Standard for History (Content)

Standard 1B: The student understands the different ways people of diverse racial, religious, and ethnic groups, and of various national origins have transmitted their beliefs and values.

California Content Standards

Standard 3.1.1 (Grade 3) Identify geographical features in their local region (e.g., deserts, mountains, valleys, hills, coastal areas, oceans, lakes).


National Standards for Mathematics

Number & Operations: Students understand numbers, ways of representing numbers, relationships among numbers, and number systems.

Connections: Students recognize and use connections among mathematical ideas.

California Content Standards

Standard 2 (Grade 3) Students calculate and solve problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

Standard 2 (Grade 4): Students use strategies, skills, and concepts in finding solutions.

Standard 2 (Grade 5): Students perform calculations and solve problems involving addition, subtraction, and simple multiplication and division of fractions and decimals.

In addition to academic objectives, at the end of the game, player will:

  • understand that stamps are pieces of art that carry rich messages about people, places, and environments.
  • understand that stamps are informative and appreciate worthy

  • understand that there are cases that no one will win unless players collaborate with each other.


The primary audiences of Fun with Stamps are grade 3-5 students or children of age 8 to age 11. It can either be used in a classroom setting as part of a curriculum, or be used at home as entertainment. Basically, level one question bank is designed for 3rd grade students; level two question bank is designed for 4th grade students; and level three question banks is designed for 5th grade students.

Context of Use

Fun with Stamps can be used in classroom or at home. It can be played by one player or multiple players from distance. It can be a tool for informal assessment or a tool for reviewing subject matters after structured study on certain topics. It can either be used as an enjoyable entertainment to play with friends and families at home.

The game will be developed on Windows or Mac platform for computer or hand-held devices. Stamps and questions will be stored in structured database. Each time player initiate a game, the system will randomly choose stamps from database. Players will be given different challenges from last time they played therefore the game can be replayed repeatedly.

Players can play in team or as individual. Players need to have basic computer skills for navigating around the themes. Although the game will work in one-computer classroom, recommended facilities are two or more computers because it would be more fun and challenging to play with multi-player.

Time for play would be various, depends on how well the player possesses required knowledge for playing the game. An average level player would take about twenty minutes to complete one round of the game.

  • Scope

    Fun with Stamps is a multiplayer game, although it can be played by one player, too. Players can play collaboratively from distance over the Internet. The satisfaction level increases while the quantity of players increases.

    The game contains multiple branches. The first big branch is selecting topic. Different topic leads to different group of stamps. The second big branch is answering questions. How many points they gain and how many times they ask for help will lead to different score and eventually define power-level of the player as well as whether or not the player can participate in Stage B of the game. In addition, power-level defines the difficulty level of puzzle that the player can play. The third big branch is Joker and Bonus in puzzle game. Joker and Bonus blocks appear randomly as the drawback or accelerator for players.

    Base on the decision or action players make for these three main branches, they were advanced to multiple decision points, then they are provided some feedback, advance the story, and then pull in another decision; players continue making decisions, traversing some of the available branches, until either "win" or "lose". Players will reach either a successful or a less successful final state. No player will be an absolute loser because she or he can gain points by asking for help from other players.

  • Object of the Game

    There are two stages in Fun with Stamps. One is Look! It's Here (find hidden object), another is Puzzle. In Look! It's Here, players will need to find selected objects hidden in a stamp and answer questions assigned. Players will need three hundred points to enter the second stage game -- Puzzle. Puzzle is a 25 - 169 blocks square. Players select blocks from menu then drag and drop blocks on stamp puzzle board. He or she can choose a competitor from Current Online Player Panel. During the process of striving to win, players win or lose points. The first to reach the Finish square is the winner of one game. A scoreboard will show how many points he or she win from this game. If players play more than one time, the score will be accumulated and displayed on the Rating section of Player Info Panel.

  • Design Details

    Players begin with the first stage game -- Look! It's Here then move forward to the second stage game -- Puzzle!

    Look! It's Here

  • Login

    Players get into the Look! It's Here workspace after logging in. The main area shows topic selection menu and the bottom area display the information for current online players.

  • Choose topic
    At the beginning of the game, players would be advanced to a menu for selecting the topic to play.

  • Find hidden object
    The system randomly shows a stamp from the topic selected for few second then ask players to look for one object hidden in the stamp. An SOS button will appear on the bottom of Players Panel. Players can hit SOS to get help when they have trouble to find the hidden object but each SOS will cost the player five points.

  • Quiz
    Each time players find a hidden object, the system choose one question from question bank and display on the screen. Players gain points for answering the questions correctly. He or she will need three hundred points to play the second stage game -- Puzzle. Players can hit SOS button to get help from other online players or get hint from online help. Upon finish answering three questions, players can choose from playing another stage one game to get more points or entering stage two games.

  • Social - Watch, Chat
    If players don't feel like start gaming right away, he or she can click o Watch button and enjoy watching the battle between best players. While watching the game, players can click on Chat button to talk to other players.
  • Puzzle

    Puzzle is based on the regular puzzle game that requires players to put divided pieces together to return to the original picture. Main area for Puzzle workspace is the puzzle board. Beneath the board, is a selection bar that randomly displays stamp pieces, bonus pieces and Joker for players' selection. On the lower-right corners, a Golden Finger is granted for each player. Players can use Golden Finger to provide help to other players.

  • Choose competitor

    When players login Puzzle workspace, the system will check the points he or she win to accept or reject the player. If the player has more than three hundred points, he or she can challenge a competitor who is available, as shown on Current Online Player Panel, by clicking the name and hit Challenge button on the bottom of the panel. A challenge can be accepted or rejected. When it is rejected, the player must choose competitor again. Players are most likely will be accepted by players with similar rating points. When challenge is accepted, a puzzle will show up with 25 - 169 blocks.

  • Puzzle board

    A miniature sheet or souvenir sheet will be selected as the base image and a square puzzle board covers over it. The area covered by puzzle board would be cut into small square blocks that randomly displayed on selection bar beneath. Two competitors play on one puzzle board. The player who select and drop stamp piece on the correct block will gain the right to select second stamp piece repeatedly until s/he fails to drop stamp piece on the correct block. The puzzle board contains up to 13 x 13 block squares.

  • Shortcuts, obstacles, and risks

    The challenger starts playing first. He or she picks stamp piece from selection menu then drag and drop stamp piece into the block on puzzle board one at a time. Then another player takes turn to play. If stamp pieces are dropped at the correct block on puzzle board, the system will pop-up feedback, "Congratulation! You have gained one more chance to Play. Select another stamp piece", to let players know about it and the player gains an opportunity to pick another stamp piece from the selection menu.

    Randomly, players will get a Bonus piece that can move directly to the correct block on the puzzle board by itself; or players will be stuck by a Joker that force the player to pick and drop it on puzzle board. To clear the Joker blocks, players will have to ask for help from competitors. When competitors answer the request for help, he or she can use Golden Finger to provide a magic touch that turns Jokers into correct stamp pieces. Players will need to use their collaborative intelligence to complete the game successfully. Each player, individual or team, need to at least provide one help to competitors therefore they have to be kind and polite with each other so that competitors would ask for help from her or accept their request for help. Timer is on to record the time used. The winner is the first one to gain all pieces for a stamp.

    How this game works

    Level of Play

  • There are three levels of play; Easy, Moderate, and Difficult.


  • Game Creation Diagram

  • Look! It's Here


    Tool for Teachers

    In order to meet the demands from various stages for different courses closely, Fun with Stamps provides a tool that teachers can use to create their own image bank, object bank and question bank according to subject matters and characteristics of learners.

    Technical Elements

    • Development environment
      Windows XP/Vista/CE; Windows Lite
    • Creative software
      Macromedia Flash; Flash Lite
      Macromedia Fireworks
      Macromedia Dreamweaver
      Adobe Photoshop
    • User environment
      Macromedia Flash player
      Browsers: Microsoft IE, Mozilla FireFox or compatible browser
      Sound card
      Color monitor or display devices (24-bit or higher)
    • Screen size and resolution
      800 X 600
    • Bit depth and dimensions of graphics and sounds
      2D graphics
      44MHZ stereo sound
    • File formats
      Animation: .swf (Macromedia Flash)
      Graphic: .jpeg and .gif
      Sound & effect: MP3 or MP4
      Web page: .htm
    • Naming convention
      section-Level-object (e.g.,p-2-bird stands for puzzle-level 2- stamp of bird)
  • Competing Products

  • Motivational Issues

    ARCS motivation model
    Keller's ARCS motivation model guided me through the game design. According to Keller, to be motivated, a learner's attention has to be aroused and sustained. Then, the student need to feel relevant, "What the learning to do with me?" In addition to being interested and relevant, the student has to have confidence that there is an "acceptable probability of success". Finally, the student's efforts and expectation need to be satisfied to a certain level.

    In this game, I use beautiful stamps to catch players' attention then several difficulty levels will challenge them to compete with multiplayers for higher scores. If they are not confident, they can start from easy level. When players feel frustrated for not being able to answer questions, there are SOS button and Golden Finger for them to get helps. To sustain players' attention, bonus and joker provide unexpected gain or lose. Their achievements will be recorded in Player Panel. They can show off to friends. In addition, the chat window provides opportunities for social interaction, and Watch feature allows players to be the observers and learn from each other.

    Intrinsic Motivations
    Malone & Lepper's challenge, curiosity, control, and fantasy for individual motivations are also the major design principles that I paid heavy concern. In this game, the system keeps scores; the random elements are designed in each branch; speed and response make differences. Moreover, players take control on the space and frequency of the game. It is my wish that the use of fantasies (beautiful stamps) may improve memory for the study materials.

    An appropriate level of difficulty and competition are used to design this educational game. Players not only have to compete with each other but also need to cooperate with competitors. They will be recognized when their points are getting higher because their points gained will be shown on players' information panel along with their names.

  • Design Process

    I choose this stamp related topic for the project because I happened to have couple of stamp booklets on-hand and I found them very informative and enjoyable.

    In the beginning, I search over the Internet for stamp related educational game with the key words "stamp game" and "teaching with stamp". The results I got suggested two things. First, this would be a good game for middle grades children. Second, scrabble might be too serious.

    The first idea came to me is stamp storybook that children use stamp to make their own stories then share with classmates. After several trials, I decided that storybook might be a good activity for face-to-face teaching but not suitable for electronic game. I tried several other ideas like stamp collection competition, sport with stamps, and global voice in stamps. < xml="true" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" prefix="o" namespace="">

    While I was skimming over tens of games, Find Grandma an Angel and Jig Zone Puzzle caught my attention and I decided to combine these ideas into an educational game that target at 3rd - 5th grade students. The game should meet national standards for grade 3-5. Also, the game should have obstacles, risks, bonus, and branches of story so that it would be a real game. In addition, I liked the game to be a multiplayer game that children could play with friends online; and I like the game to be a game that no one could win if they don't collaborate with each other.

    After created several key screen frames, I show them to children in my neighborhood. Their feedback revealed some vague points existed. I also show prototype screen frames to librarians in local Children's library. They provided helpful suggestions for questions levels. Moreover, the co-instructor for EDTEC 670 urged me to clarify rules for play. As a consequence, I created few more screen frames; describe learning levels with tables, and added scoring table plus two diagrams to detail the rules for play. I shared the second design document with a primary school teacher. From her feedback, I learned that teachers need a tool that they could created question bank for their own purpose and I added the component into my design.  

    When I was creating prototype, I realized that teachers might have difficulties to find proper stamps for creating the first stage game, Look! It’s Here, because the stamps for that game must be complicate enough to cause students’ interests to play with it. The solution I found is the miniature sheets, a large stamp that combines several small stamps on one sheet. Teachers can use either one of the miniature sheet stamp or compose a complex stamp by putting several stamps together using graphic tools. I added the idea into my game design.

    From the project, I learned that game design works better when there is more than one designer because creative ideas are vital to game design. One other lesson I learned is how important it is to follow a systematic design framework even when you work alone. A systematic approach could save lots of time for reversion.

  • References

    Books & Journals

    • Keller, J. M., & Suzuki, K. (1988). Use of the ARCS motivation model in courseware design. In D. H. Jonassen (Ed.). Instructional designs for microcomputer courseware. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

    • Malone, T. W., & Lepper, M. R. (1987). Making learning fun: A taxonomy of intrinsic motivations for learning. In R. E. Snow & M. J. Farr (Eds.). Aptitude, learning and instruction. Volume 3: Conative and affective process analysis. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.