Games are a tried and true way to engage students. Whether teaching in-person or remotely via a live session like Zoom or Google Meets, teachers know that games, brain breaks, and icebreakers are an awesome way to get students actively involved in learning. With the ever-changing landscape of education, I thought it might be nice to compile some versatile activities that challenge students in really fun ways. Best part? They can work in a virtual or an in-person setting!
⭐How Many? Give students a category and then challenge students to see how many different things they can fit within that classification. At first students will respond with obvious ideas. However, as they brainstorm, their ideas will stretch and their creativity will grow. Students can jot their ideas down on scrap paper and earn points for each unique response when they share out.
Here are some categories to get started: occupations, things that are slimy, things that roll, animal noises, articles of clothing
⭐Listen Carefully: Read a short passage out loud to students. Then, have them answer questions based on what they can remember. Make it especially fun by awarding points for every answer that students get right. You can change up this activity by reading two versions of the same story. Mix up some of the details in the second version for students to listen for.
⭐One Word: Pose a fun question to the class and have them all think of a one-word answer. Then, give every student a chance to share their responses as you call on each of them. Here are some questions to get started:
--- If you were a type of dessert, what would you be?
--- Where do you feel happiest?
--- How would a soccer ball describe its day?
--- Where is somewhere that you would like to visit?
--- What would be the perfect gift for you?
⭐Mystery Item: This activity is quick and easy to play. To prepare, write 5 or 6 clues about an object. Make the clues gradually increase in their specificity. Then, read the clues to students as they jot down their guesses for the mystery item until you reveal the answer.
⭐Punchline: Start telling a joke to students, and then have them guess the punchline. Find a ton of jokes for kids here.
⭐Strike a Pose: Explain to students that they are going to pretend that they are in a photograph. They will need to imagine that the photo was taken at the height of the event. All they have to do is strike a pose after you give them a situation. For instance, you might say, "haunted house," and then students would freeze in a pose that shows them frightened or terrified.
Here are a few situations to try: Dentist Office, Roller Coaster, Last Day of School, Scary Movie, Food Fight, Race
⭐Timed Writing Activities: Engage students with a creative writing prompt. Then, "amp up" the fun factor by adding a timed element. Challenge students to race the clock as they write as much as they can in a fixed time period. Find my favorite prompts here.
⭐And Then...: This is a listening game for the entire class. Students will need to listen to and add to a growing story. You'll start the story with an opener like, "At the zoo, I decided to open the lion's cage, and then..." Next, you'll call on a student to explain what happened next. That student will add one line and the phrase "and then" before selecting another student to add to the story.
⭐Listen and Draw: Students love this activity! To prepare, create a simple illustration filled with shapes and designs. Then, write out the directions for students. Have students complete the activity on a piece of paper. Read each direction to students and challenge them to replicate the illustration you instructed them to draw. (These are included in the exclusive freebie below.)
⭐Class Pet: Pretend that you have a new class pet. Explain to students that they will need to guess the type of animal. Students will need to ask questions and write their guesses on a piece of paper when they think they have figured out the new class pet.
⭐Add the Ending: Engage students as they practice writing and storytelling skills with this activity. First, students will listen to the beginning of a story that you read to them. Then, they'll take over the writing and complete the story. The story starters are a fun way to motivate students to write.
⭐Alien, Tiger, and Cat: Here's an improvisational theatre game that works perfectly on a video conferencing platform. Explain to students that they can be one of three things: an alien, a cat, or a tiger. If they choose to be an alien, they need to hold their pointer fingers next to their head (like antennae) and say "bleeb, bleeb." To be a cat, they need to rub their wrist along their face (like a cat cleaning itself) and say "meow." Finally, to be a tiger they need to push their hand forward with a claw stance and roar. On your cue, every student will choose and act like an animal. The goal is to get everyone to choose the same animal (which is nearly impossible, but fun to try).
⭐Rapid Recall: Create a list of random words. Then, read the list of words to students. As you read the words, you might have students put their hands on their heads so that you know for sure that they aren't taking notes. Once you've read the words to students once or twice, wait about a minute before letting students write down every word that they remember. (Find ready-made lists in this complete resource.)
⭐Finish the Fact: Share the beginning of a fact with students. Then, challenge them to complete the fact. Have them share their guesses before revealing the complete fact. Find a collection of random facts here.