Online learning can be fun, even in bigger groups. This article will find 4 fun and easy virtual classroom games and activities to boost your students’ motivation and bring joy into online classrooms. Teachers know that bringing games into the classroom boosts student engagement in a virtual learning environment. Finding a game that allows the teacher to integrate content into the virtual classroom can be a challenge. Teachers can easily transfer several popular and fun games to the virtual world, such as: Jeopardy, Taboo, Pictionary, and of course, Kahoot! Below, you will find descriptions of how to set these virtual classroom games and activities up and utilize them in your virtual classroom this year.
Our 4 Favorite Virtual Classroom Games
1. This Is Jeopardy!
As far as instructions go for setting up an interactive Jeopardy board, the easiest option is to search for a Jeopardy board template online. A simple search will yield several results, none of which differ too much in what they provide. These fun game boards are essentially Google slides that link slides to one another. The great thing about using these templates is that duplicating the iconic Jeopardy visual is already done. Most templates are relatively simple to integrate your content into and even include instructions on how to do so.
When playing Jeopardy in a virtual learning environment, the teacher should have the game board in presentation mode and shared it with the class via screen share. The most challenging thing about playing this game across a virtual class is the lack of a buzzer feature. One option is to have a simple word for students to type into the video conference’s chat to indicate that they want to answer. Whoever’s buzzer word is sent first will get the first attempt at an answer. Should this student answer incorrectly, the next effort goes to the next in line.
This method is beneficial because of how difficult it can be to distinguish who is speaking on a video call. Mainly if more than one person contributes at a time; additionally, it seems as if the glitchiest feature is the sound, which could easily lead to fairness complaints. If teams are necessary, set up a simple way to determine the group in equal size, such as alphabet ranges.
2. Oooo, it’s Taboo!
Taboo is a great way to use a fun word game that challenges students’ vocabulary. The person giving clues during Taboo attempts to get their teammates to say a highlighted word, traditionally located at the top of the card. The catch is that there is a list of five words that the clue-giver cannot use when describing the highlighted word. Teachers can easily create a Taboo set using keywords from a unit as the highlighted words at the top of the card. Teachers can then create a list of words to avoid challenging students to be more descriptive. For example, if the keyword is Martin Luther King Jr., the words to avoid might be: Dream, Civil Rights, Black, White, and Race. In this way, the challenge for students is to articulate the keyword.
When setting this game up in a virtual field, the most effective way doesn’t involve creating any cards. Teachers only need to plan the keywords and fun Taboo words. The teacher will send the clue giver the words that would typically be on the card in a private message. Before playing the game, the teacher should provide the class with a visual of how he/she will send the words. Students then know which is the keyword and which words they cannot say. Once the “card” is given to the student, he/she will come off of mute to convey their clues. The teacher monitors the time and ensures the clue giver does not say any taboo words. As soon as a student guesses the correct word, the teacher needs to send another “card” to the clue giver. The object is for the student to take turns and to get through as many “cards” as possible.
3. Pictionary This!
Pictionary is another classic and fun classroom game and ideal for vocabulary review. Usually, the appeal of Pictionary is its low-to-no tech requirement. This feature makes Pictionary easy to prepare while maintaining rigor and engagement. In the remote learning world, Pictionary has the same appeal. All that is needed for this fun game is a list of words for students to draw. A few platforms allow students to draw and collaborate on the same document, making their illustrations visible to everyone.
What seems to be the most intuitive platform to use is Google’s Jamboard, which is essentially an interactive whiteboard. Teachers should open a Jamboard and share the link with their class. This will put all students in the same space, allowing simple and quick transitions from one artist to the next. At the same time, the teacher should share their screen of the Jamboard so that all students can see it on Zoom. Before beginning the game, allow students to practice using the drawing, erase, and undo tools.
Like Taboo, the teacher should write the word in private chat to the artist. Students can either say their guesses out loud or type them into the chat. The last consideration for the teacher is the timer. One way to show the timer to the students is to find a timer on YouTube and split the screen shared with the class to see both the Jamboard and the timer.
4. Have a Hoot with Kahoot!
Perhaps the easiest conversion from in-person to virtual learning is the fan-favorite, Kahoot. Since technology-based, there is no instruction or set up that is different for virtual game playing. Students use their phones to enter their answers to each multiple-choice question after entering the game using a code. Teachers share their screen on the video call to see the questions and the leaderboard after each question. Students love the familiar music that signals their chance to respond and look forward to seeing how they have jumped on the leaderboard.
Virtual Games to Gain Interest and Engagement
Virtual classroom games and activities are fun and motivate the students to learn. Points that students get for winning can be in the form of extra-credit or other incentives for students. As long as the teacher creates the games and activities intentionally, sets them up before the class, and explains the rules thoroughly, virtual classroom games are a sure-fire way to garner interest and engage with content in distance learning in a fun way. Make sure you give students clear instructions, so nobody feels excluded during the virtual classroom game.