Playing Virtual Games in the Elementary Classroom

We’ve compiled a list of virtual activities, ranging from scavenger hunts to Pictionary, to get students talking, laughing, and interacting with their friends.

While most educators are too exhausted to take on anything else this year, traditional and new classroom games can give a welcome break for students and teachers who are tired of video classes and crave social interaction.

This year, we uncovered some simple virtual games that elementary instructors are using with their children and suggestions for how to incorporate them into the classroom.


After noticing how much her students missed informal socializing during hybrid learning, Liz Henneberry, a third-grade teacher in Franklin, Massachusetts, adapted Connect Four, Trouble, Chess, and Checkers to Google Slides. The latter two are adaptations of Eric Curts’ templates, and all of Henneberry’s templates can be downloaded and used in your virtual classroom right away. Students click a board game shelved in a virtual recess room during recess breaks to make their copy of the game. Students can then use Google Drive to share the game with a friend to play around together. Henneberry suggests modeling the step-by-step method for students new to sharing Google Slides.

Similarly, Robin Nahhas reports that her third-grade pupils enjoy playing Multiplication Tic-Tac-Toe, a downloadable game she built on Google Slides to help them master multiplication skills. Before each match, Nahhas goes over the rules and the code of conduct with the students, reminding them of restrictions like not interfering with classmates’ games or their gaming credentials will be withdrawn.


Sarah Wood, a fifth-grade teacher, says she adds games like scavenger hunts into morning meetings so that the entire class can learn while having fun. When it’s time to play, Wood plays a slideshow with a term like a blanket and a corresponding image, and the students race to their houses to find the item. When they see the thing, they can record a video or type it into the chat box to share it with others.

Wood has even tailored the game to specific learning objectives, such as identifying vocabulary-reinforcing objects or putting together a project using the things. They were once instructed to get a broom, a blanket, and a few heavy objects and construct a reading fort in 10 minutes. They used Flipgrid to conduct tours of their defenses at asynchronous times.

Her students, she says, have also appreciated directed sketching assignments, in which they are told to draw something without seeing it. Wood gives instructions based on images from a drawing book or a guided drawing YouTube channel, such as “Draw a wide oval with a smaller oval inside; on the left side, attach a triangle.” When her students have finished drawing, they turn on their cameras, hold their artwork up to the screen, and try to guess what they have drawn. Wood then presents the actual drawing, which she claims caused a lot of laughs.

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