“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Proverbs always have some degree of truth to them. Students need variety and a bit of fun and games to remain engaged and motivated in class. But coming up with ideas for activities can sometimes prove challenging for teachers. Finding activities that translate well to a virtual classroom environment can be especially tricky. So, we went ahead and compiled a top 15 list of online classroom games for you.
- Keeping Online Classroom Students Engaged with Games and Activities
- Top 15 Online Classroom Games
- How To Use Kaltura Virtual Classroom for Online Classroom Games
- Final Thoughts
Keeping Online Classroom Students Engaged with Games and Activities
Keeping students engaged in virtual classrooms has been a notorious challenge for many teachers in the past year or so. But the online teacher community, virtual classroom software providers, and other experts didn’t twiddle their thumbs during the pandemic. Many guidelines, best practices, and digital engagement tools are now available to keep your students leaning forward. One simple way is to intersperse games and fun activities throughout the lesson plan.
Playing games in the classroom brings several benefits:
- Games break up the routine
- Games help retain knowledge
- Games build community and strengthen relationships
- Games are fun
- Games foster a healthy competition between students
- Games promote teamwork
- Games help student practice their problem-solving skills
- Games increase motivation
I’m sure we can think of many other ways games elevate classroom sessions. But we’re digressing. The following 15 online classroom games will be guaranteed hits with your students. Try them out!
Top 15 Online Classroom Games and Fun Activities
Quizzes deserve the shiny first spot on our top 15 list, undisputedly. No activity combines fun, thrill, and knowledge as well as a good old quiz. We recommend ditching the pen and paper. You can use a quizzing app like Kahoot. But if you’re lucky enough to use Kaltura Virtual Classroom, you’ve got the quizzing feature integrated into your online classroom. You can prepare the questions in advance, display them on your students’ screens and let them answer with a click, all within the platform!
- True or False
A classic ice breaker. Prepare a list of questions in advance that can be answered with a story or an anecdote. Tell the students they can choose to answer the question with a true story or a lie. Give them a few minutes to prepare their story. It’s up to the other students to guess whether the story is true or false.
- Listen and Draw
This one was always a success in my ESL classes when teaching directions, orientation, forms, etc. Find a simple picture or a drawing but don’t show it to the students. Instead, have the students take pen and paper (or use your virtual classroom’s collaborative digital whiteboard) and describe what you see in the picture. The students follow your directions. When done, have the student show their results, and compare them with the actual image. Have a laugh and discuss what went wrong. If your students are having fun, you can prolong the game by having students give the directions (choose relevant pictures or drawings in advance and send them in private chat).
This is an all-time favorite that translates perfectly to the virtual classroom. Divide the class into two competing teams. The teams can designate an actor for their turn. Send a word or phrase to that student in a private message (you can use this word generator to keep things nicely random). Start the game with a timer. The student acts out the charade. If his or her team didn’t guess the word within the time limit, then the other team gets a go at it. Charades can create some hubbub and chaos in the classroom, so play this game whenever your students are in dire need of some action or movement.
You’ll need screen-sharing capabilities for your students and drawing software (PowerPoint works fine) for this classic. If you use Kaltura Virtual Classroom, you can leverage the built-in collaborative whiteboard feature. Pictionary is very similar to charades. Divide your students into two teams. Designate a drawer in team A and send them a word or phrase via private message (you can use the word generator linked above). While they draw a picture illustrating the word or phrase (in silence), the other team members guess.
This is a personal favorite. Compile a list of words or phrases. For each word, choose a few related words that are “taboo” (e.g., watermelon – juice, fruit, seeds). Send words or phrases to a student in a private message and have them describe them to a teammate, without using taboo words. Whoever guesses the most words in 60 seconds wins. Here’s a free taboo card generator to get you started!
Similar to Quizzes but without multiple choice, trivia is a thrilling way to test your students’ knowledge in a team competition. If you want to minimize the chaos, you can use the chat as a buzzer for which team gets to answer the question first. Other than that, you will need a list of trivia questions. You can build one yourself if you want to connect the questions to a particular topic. You can also search Google for a “list of trivia questions” and you’ll get a lifetime worth of questions, like this list of 250+ trivia questions.
- Virtual Musical Chairs or Freeze Dance
This is one for the younger students, for whom it’s difficult to plant their bum in a chair for too long. Play a fun song and have the students put out their best moves. As soon as you stop the music, they should all sit back in their chairs as fast as possible. The last one standing’s out. Alternatively, you can have them freeze in their last dance move when the music stops. It will be fun for them to see all their friends’ weird positions.
- Alphabet Chain
A classic game we used to play during long car drives. Choose a category and have a first student come up with a word that’s relevant to that category. The next student needs to come up with another relevant word that starts with the last letter of the previous student’s word. Continue the chain. Whoever can’t think of a word is out.
- Story Chain
The best way to play this one is to form the chain first. List the students in random order on the digital whiteboard. Then kick off the story with a hook (e.g., Yesterday, I arrived at the market when all of a sudden…). Now the students need to continue building the story by each adding three words in quick succession. You can direct your students to build the story up to a climax when you feel it’s getting too long. You can also write down the story in the chat so students can keep track or review the story after the activity.
- Show and Tell
This is a children’s classroom classic that translates well to an online environment. It can easily be tied in with the session topic or theme. Give the students directions as to what type of object they should bring. Each student then presents their object and explains their choice.
- Virtual Field Trips
This is a great way to break the routine and it can take many different forms, too. It can be as simple as taking a field trip to a particular webpage or you can find a virtual tour of a real landmark like the pyramids of Gizeh or the Golden Gate Bridge. Some landmarks have free virtual tours or live webcam feeds, and you can complete the field trip with Google Earth, Google Images, and YouTube videos. You can also take an actual field trip by running your virtual classroom on-location from a mobile phone or laptop (from your back garden, for instance), but make sure you check your connection and gear in advance.
- Zoom Out
Zoom Out is a short and fun game that is perfect to introduce a new lesson topic. You’ll need a high-resolution photo that is relevant to your topic. Zoom as close into the image as possible without losing too much quality or detail. Tap the zoom out button every 5-10 seconds until one of the students can guess the content of the image. Show the whole image and explain why it’s relevant to today’s class topic.
This is a great game to let students experience topics from different perspectives with topics that cover various opinions, personas, groups, etc. Launch a debate about the topic but ask students not to react from their own perspective but from the perspective of an assigned persona. Complete the experience by discussing the debate and comparing perspectives (the why).
- Taboo Pro
This one is a different and more thrilling take on the Taboo game, geared towards older students. Choose a topic or phrase, along with a related word that the students are not allowed to use. Without any preparation, have each student talk 30 seconds straight about the topic, without using the taboo keyword, and without hesitation (pauses or “er”).
How To Use Kaltura Virtual Classroom for Online Classroom Games
It’s not easy teaching students remotely. Everyone is sitting separately in front of their computer screen, and interaction and engagement quickly make room for feelings of isolation and demotivation. Games and fun activities are a great idea to spice up your online classroom. Another way to add oomph to your online lessons is to host them on Kaltura Virtual Classroom. In contrast with virtual meeting solutions, Kaltura Virtual Classroom is purpose-built for learning, with educational tools and engagement features your students will love. Kaltura Virtual Classroom also has a host of features that work very well with online classroom games and activities:
- Breakout rooms to divide your classroom into smaller groups for improved interaction and collaboration.
- Screen sharing to show your every move on your desktop.
- Collaborative whiteboards to play Pictionary, keep a scoreboard, or do the usual whiteboard stuff.
- Multimedia integration and playlists to show videos or other media files, perfect for a virtual field trip or to play songs for virtual musical chairs.
- Live quizzes to play… live quizzes. Prepare the questions in advance and offer the students clickable multiple-choice answers for good fun without interruptions.
- Real-time notes. Fun activities mean working together and sharing notes. Kaltura Virtual Classroom lets you do all of that on-platform.
- Persistent virtual classroom means you keep the same virtual space, and it will stay the way you leave it. This allows you to prepare the space in advance and set your game or activity up, so you don’t need to waste any time during the session.
- Moderation Controls will help you keep things constructive and organized. You can mute and unmute students and grant presentation rights so that the stage remains dedicated to the main activity
If you want to spice up your online lesson, play a game. And if you want to spice up that game, and your students’ entire online learning experience to boot, then try Kaltura Virtual Classroom. It’s the ultimate and comprehensive online classroom solution, used by leading institutions and independent education experts alike. But don’t take our biased word for it. Try it yourself. For free.