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15 Online Classroom Games for Every Age (5-Minute Prep)

15 Online Classroom Games for Every Age (5-Minute Prep)

Lawrence Haywood 29 Nov 2021 8 min read

The virtual classroom may be starting to feel like a battleground at this point. Students’ attention is fleeting at the best of times; without a rich roster of online classroom games, you may be fighting a losing battle for vital attention.

Well, the research says that students are more focused, more motivated and learn more with online classroom games. Here are 15 that need virtually no prep time.

Competitive Online Classroom Games

Competition is one of the great motivators in the classroom, just as much as it is in the virtual classroom. Here are 9 online classroom games that drive students to learn and stay focused…

#1 – Live Quiz

Best for Primary πŸ§’ High School πŸ‘© and Adults πŸŽ“

Back to the research. One survey in 2019 found that 88% of students recognise online classroom quiz games as both motivating and useful for learning. What’s more, a staggering 100% of students said that quiz games help them to review what they’ve learned in class.

For many, a live quiz is the way to introduce fun and gamification into the classroom. They’re completely suited to the virtual environment

How it works: Create or download a quiz on free, live quiz software. You present the quiz from your laptop, while students compete for the most points using their phones. Quizzes can be played individually or in teams.

Playing a live quiz - one of the best online classroom games for motivation.
A live Christmas quiz with ESL students on AhaSlides.

πŸ’‘ Tip: Find out more on how to create the perfect quiz for students or the perfect Zoom quiz.

Free Virtual Quizzes for Class


Grab your ideal quiz for free from the AhaSlides quiz library. Change them however you want!

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Music Theory Lesson
English language quiz template thumbnail
English Lesson
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General Knowledge
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Harry Potter
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Marvel Universe
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Name the Song!

#2 – Balderdash

Best for Primary πŸ§’ High School πŸ‘© and Adults πŸŽ“

How it works: Present a target word to your class and ask them for the definition of it. After everyone has submitted their definition, ask them to vote on which submission they think is the best definition of the word.

  • 1st place wins 5 points
  • 2nd place wins 3 points
  • 3rd place wins 2 points

After several rounds with different target words, tally the points to see who’s the winner!

πŸ’‘ Tip: You can set up anonymous voting so that certain students’ levels of popularity doesn’t sway the results!

#3 – Climb the Tree

Best for Kindergarten πŸ‘Ά

How it works: Split the class into 2 teams. On the board draw a tree for each team, as well as a different animal on a separate piece of paper which is pinned next to the base of the tree.

Ask a question to the whole class. When a student answers it correctly, move their team’s animal up the tree. The first animal to reach the top of the tree wins.

πŸ’‘ Tip: Let students vote for their favourite animal. In my experience, this always leads to higher motivation from the class.

#4 – Spin the Wheel

Best for All Ages 🏫

Spinner wheels are hugely versatile tools and can actually be used for many types of online classroom games. Here are a few ideas:

  • Pick a random student to answer a question.
  • Pick a random question to ask the class.
  • Pick a random category in which students name as much as they can.
  • Give out a random number of points for a student’s correct answer.
A spinner wheel asking 'who's answering the next question?'
Using AhaSlides’ spinner wheel to raise focus and fun in online class.

πŸ’‘ Tip: One thing I’ve learned from teaching is that you’re never too old for a spinner wheel! Don’t assume that it’s just for kids – you can use it for any aged student.

#5 – Bomb, Heart, Gun

Best for Primary πŸ§’ High School πŸ‘© and Adults πŸŽ“

A bit of a long explainer here, but this is one of the best online review games, so it’s totally worth it! Once you’ve got the hang of it, actual preparation time is under 5 minutes – honestly.

How it works:

  1. Before you begin, create a grid table for yourself with either a heart, gun or bomb occupying each grid (on a 5Γ—5 grid, this should be 12 hearts, 9 guns and 4 bombs).
  2. Present another grid table to your students (5Γ—5 for 2 teams, 6Γ—6 for 3 teams, etc.)
  3. Write a target word into each grid.
  4. Split players into the desired number of teams.
  5. Team 1 chooses a grid and says the meaning behind the word in it.
  6. If they’re wrong, they lose a heart. If they’re right, they get either a heart, gun or bomb, depending on what the grid corresponds to on your own grid table.
    1. A ❀️ grants the team an extra life.
    2. A πŸ”« takes away one life from any other team.
    3. A πŸ’£ takes away one heart from the team who got it.
  7. Repeat this with all teams. The team with the most hearts at the end is the winner!

πŸ’‘ Tip: This is a wonderful online classroom game for ESL students, but make sure you explain the rules slowly!

#6 – Picture Zoom

Best for All Ages 🏫

How it works: Present the class with a picture that has been zoomed all the way in. Make sure to leave a few subtle details, as students will have to guess what the picture is.

Reveal the picture at the end to see who got it right. If you’re using live quizzing software, you can automatically award points depending on the speed of the answer.

Using picture zoom as one of the best online classroom games for virtual classes.
Playing Picture Zoom on AhaSlides.

πŸ’‘ Tip: This one’s easy to do using software like AhaSlides. Simply upload a picture to the slide and zoom into it in the edit menu. Points are awarded automatically.

#7 – 2 Truths, 1 Lie

Best for High School πŸ‘© and Adults πŸŽ“

As well as being one of my favourite ice breaker activities for students and colleagues alike, 2 truths, 1 lie is a devil of a review game for online learning.

How it works: At the end of a lesson, get students (either solo or in teams) to come up with two facts that everyone had just learned in the lesson, as well as one lie that sounds like it could be true.

Each student reads out their two truths and one lie, after which each student votes for which they thought was the lie. Each student who correctly identified the lie gets a point, while the student who made up the lie gets one point for each person who voted incorrectly.

πŸ’‘ Tip: This game might work best in teams, as it’s not always easy for students who have their turn later to come up with a convincing lie.

#8 – Pointless

Best for High School πŸ‘© and Adults πŸŽ“

Pointless is a British TV game show that’s completely adaptable to the world of online classroom games for Zoom. It rewards students for getting the most obscure answers possible.

How it works: On a live word cloud, you give all students a category and they try to write the most obscure (but correct) answer they can think of. The most popular words will appear the largest at the centre of the word cloud.

Once all the results are in, Start by deleting all the incorrect entries. Clicking the central (most popular) word deletes it and replaces it with the next most popular word. Keep deleting until you’re left with one word, (or more than one if all words are equally sized).

Playing pointless with a live word cloud on AhaSlides
Using a word cloud slide to play Pointless on AhaSlides.

πŸ’‘ Tip: Check out the video below to see how useful a free, live word cloud generator can be in any virtual classroom!

#9 – Virtual Bingo

Best for Kindergarten πŸ‘Ά and Primary πŸ§’

How it works: Using a free tool like My Free Bingo Cards, put a set of your target words into a bingo grid. Send the link out to your class, who click on it to each receive a randomised virtual bingo card containing your target words.

Read out the definition of a target word. If that definition matches a target word on a student’s virtual bingo card, they can click the word to cross it out. The first student to cross out all of the target words is the winner!

πŸ’‘ Tip: This is a great virtual class game for kindergarteners as long as you keep it as simple as possible. Just read out a word and let them cross it out.

Creative Online Classroom Games

Creativity in the classroom (at least in my classroom) took a nosedive when we moved to teaching online. Creativity plays such an integral part in effective learning; try these online classroom games to bring back the spark…

#10 – Draw a Monster

Best for Kindergarten πŸ‘Ά and Primary πŸ§’

How it works: Using a collaborative online whiteboard like Excalidraw, invite each student to draw a monster. The monster must feature target words from your lesson in a number that is determined by a dice roll.

For example, if you’re teaching shapes, then you can set triangle, circle and diamond as your target words. Roll the dice for each to determine how many of each has to feature in each student’s monster (5 triangles, 3 circles, 1 diamond).

πŸ’‘ Tip: Keep engagement high by letting students roll the dice and naming their monster at the end.

#11 – Build a Story

Best for High School πŸ§’ and Adults πŸŽ“

This one’s a good virtual icebreaker as it encourages creative thinking early on in a lesson.

How it works: Start by creating the opening to a whimsical story that’s one sentence long. Pass that story onto a student, who continues it with a sentence of their own, before passing it on.

Write down each story addition so as not to lose track. Eventually, you’ll have a class-created story to be proud of!

Building a storyline with one of the best online classroom games
Building a story through open-ended slides on AhaSlides.

πŸ’‘ Tip: It’s best to use this as a background game. Teach your lesson as you normally would, but have students build their story behind the scenes. You can read the whole story out at the end.

#12 – Charades

Best for Kindergarten πŸ‘Ά and Primary πŸ§’

How it works: Like pictionary, this virtual classroom game is an evergreen sensation. It’s one of the easiest games to adapt from the offline to the online classroom, as it requires basically no materials.

Create a list of target words that are easy enough to demonstrate through actions. Choose a word and perform the action, then see which student gets it.

πŸ’‘ Tip: This is one your students can definitely get involved in. Give each student a word in private and see if they can perform an action that clearly demonstrates the target word.

#13 – Bring the House Down

Best for High School πŸ§’ and Adults πŸŽ“

How it works: Create a few scenarios from the things you covered in the lesson. Split students into teams of 3 or 4, then give each team a scenario. Send those students into breakout rooms together so they can plot their performance using household objects as props.

After 10 – 15 minutes of preparation, call all teams back to perform their scenario using household objects. Optionally, all students can take a vote at the end for the most creative, funny, or accurate performance.

πŸ’‘ Tip: Keep scenarios open so that there’s room for students to be creative. Always encourage creativity in online classroom games like these!

#14 – What Would You Do?

Best for High School πŸ§’ and Adults πŸŽ“

Another one open to students’ inbuilt sense of creativity. What Would You Do? is all about letting imagination run free.

How it works: Make up a scenario from your lesson. Ask students what they would do in that scenario, and tell them there are no particular rules for their answer.

Using a brainstorming tool, everyone writes down their idea and takes a vote on which is the most creative solution.

'What Would You Do' as one of many online classroom games
A brainstorm slide on AhaSlides used for voting.

πŸ’‘ Tip: Add another layer of creativity by getting students to submit their ideas through the perspective of someone you’ve just been learning about. Topics and people don’t have to go well together. For example, “how would Stalin deal with climate change?“.

#15 – Pictionary

Best for Kindergarten πŸ‘Ά and Primary πŸ§’

How it works: Of all online classroom games here, this one probably needs as much introduction as it does prep. Simply start drawing a target word on your virtual whiteboard and have students guess what it is. The first student to guess it correctly gets a point.

πŸ’‘ Tip: If your students are tech-savvy enough, it’s much better if you can give each of them a word and have them draw it out.

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