Over 25 Zoom Activities and growing to add to your lessons to help make your students time on Zoom more productive. We have different categories of Zoom activities and ideas, English speaking, listening, writing and reading, physical Zoom games and dances, art over Zoom, and PowerPoint quizzes and Games and some online games that work well in online classrooms as well
I am a teacher as well so have had to adapt to teaching in an online classroom. It was difficult at first so I felt is was essential to put together something that culd help both teachers and my students as we all work through these challenging and difficult times. I hoep they help you as much as they help me
Since February the world has been reeling from the effects of the Covid pandemic and all industries have had to revaluate how they do business. Education has had to undertake a paradigm shift in this time. We have gone from face to face to face to screen and it hasn’t been easy. With the pandemic still accelerating and with students all over the world under constant threat of being back at home rather than in a classroom you can never have enough ideas and advice on how to deliver content and keep students engaged in an online learning environment that is as alien to them as it is to us.
So we have put together a collection of activities that can be used in Zoom lessons to help motivate and inject a little fun into lessons.
This has been split this up into different sections as it is rather long. The bullet points below will jump you to the relevant sections if you haven’t got time to read through all the sections.
These are not finite and depend on your own teaching situation. However, they could include the following:
With those out of the way lets try to give you some ideas to help these Zoom lessons become both less intimidating and more effective. I want to state that I am not a fan of doing Zoom lessons in large groups, but it is what it is and thinking of ways to make the lesson more interactive and less challenging really helped me and my students cope.
I have been on Zoom since March and these are some of the activities I tried, and some I know others tried. There are plenty more ideas and I would ask if you have something that works to put it in the comments section so we can all benefit. Lets take a look at some ideas.
What’s in the box
Not to be confused with the line from the move seven. (and yes I found the gif for that 😛 ) prepare a decorated box and give clues to your students one by one and ask them to guess what is in there. For example, ‘’It is in your pencil case’’ if they don’t get it after a set number of guesses, you can offer another clue.” you can write with it’‘ You can keep going till they get it correct and then can try again. You can even ask them to take the role of teacher once they have the hang of it.
Hardly needs and introduction but this game works well on Zoom. I used top trumps cards and my own Animal Antics cards, which are the first to be made to teach English as well as have fun. I picked one and said the students have 20 questions to ask one at a time to be able to guess what the animal is in your hand. You can play this where you give full answers or only yes or no answers depending on the level of your students. Of course just because I use animals doesn’t mean you have to, you can use anything you want. Holidays, people, lessons anything!
Yes / no game
I am from the UK and we used to have a game show called take your pick (excuse the bad video it is from the 1980’s!) . The game is massively simple. For one minute (or less for kids) the player can no say yes or no, nod their head or shake their head. The teacher asked rapid fire questions to try to trick them into saying yes or no. It is really really difficult but a LOT of fun. If they say yes or no then they are out. Watch the video, its quite fun as well.
First and last
This is a spelling exercise game. Students must think of a word on a topic and say it to the group, then the next player must think of a word in that topic that ends with the last letter of that word. So, for example countries. USA, Australia, Azerbaijan, Nepal, Luxembourg etc. Until they can’t think of any more. (don’t choose countries with younger learners!!)
Mallets Mallet / Word association game.
This is another old British TV show, with an equally bad video from the 80s I am afraid. However, the game is great and really really good in the classroom and on zoom. It would be worth having a buzzer sound effect or a bell or similar. You chose two students to play and you have to choose a word. They have to think of a word associated with that word and say it, then the other player has to think of a word associated with the word the first player just said. There are three rules, they can not repeat a word, hesitate for more than a few seconds, or say something totally unrelated. Watch the video for the idea, you won’t need the big blow up mallet, but these days I doubt we are allowed to bonk kids on the head!!
Show and Tell
Have students prepare something they would like to share with the class. This can be done over the course of a few lessons as it will take a little longer than some of the activities here. They can read a story, show their pet or take a bout a good holiday or memory. In these challenging times this may be a nice thing to do for all. Keep a record of who has tried in a given lesson so it doesn’t get confusing.
You have 30 or so students on a screen. You can play I spy with the backgrounds of the students and then ask them to do the same. You do not have to do just letters like ABC, you can also use adjectives, colours etc.
This game is a party classic, though perhaps we can call it something different for our students. I called it Find the Cure (because of the virus situation), but have heard it called Lonely Ghost, Detective and Killer, (perhaps skip that name as well) It is a great little guessing game. One student is the doctor and they have to close their eyes until told not to ( this can be checked in Zoom quite easily) The teacher chooses another player to be the cold or virus (depends if appropriate in your area) The ‘’cold’’ starts to do an action like clap their hands or rub their tummy, and all other students have to copy the action. The doctor has to work out who is starting these actions. The ‘’cold” has to change the action often but try when the doctor isn’t looking. (on Zoom not easy!!) The doctor can have how ever many guesses you want to cure the cold. The usual is three. Once cured the ‘’cold’’ can then become the doctor and the game can start again.
This game is a classic. You can play this on Zoom quite effectively. Just introduce the rule that students do not have to do the action you say unless you say ‘’Simon says’’ if they do they have to sit down and are out of the game until there is just one winner. Great in parties and great in Zoom
Not that sure of the educational value of this activity but it is fun and will help get them out of their chairs (Zoom is not the best for moving around!) put on some music (avoid Baby Shark if you want to remain sane) and ask the students to dance until the music stops, if anyone is still dancing when the music stops they have to sit down and wait for the winner.
Introduce that Bats are known for their great hearing but terrible eyesight. So you are going to play a game that means students can only use their ears. Have some objects out of sight of your camera like a glass, water filled bottle, spoons, or even animal sounds etc and ask them to listen and then try to guess what is was. This could be done with any sound you like
A good way to get your children up and moving during the distance learning lessons scavenger hunts can be lots of fun. The teacher has to say an item and then the students have to run off and find the item. You can give a time limit for finding the items. Playing music would be a good way to do this. Some ideas for items to find could be. Spoon, TV remote, shoe, newspaper, something pink, glasses, a chopstick, a book. It would be more useful to have an adult with them for this one just in case they get a little excited. Here is a list we have prepared if you need.
Similar to scavenger hunt but this one you can use colours and ask students to run off and find something of the color the teacher says. This can also be done with adjectives like soft hard, big small etc.
Great for a break, and an education one at that. they have a subscription model but also a lot of content is free as well. Press play and let the kids jump around a little bit for a change.
If you have ways to get materials to the students you can prepare or download bingo cards to send to the students. We have some free bingo cards here with English sounds and a version with simple English words if you would like to have some ready made. You can then play with them through Zoom keeping a record of the numbers or words you have said to the class already. Students LOVE bingo so this should be a sure-fire hit.
A to Z topics
You can start off with a picture (I have one here as a worksheet you can use). Students have to go round the class and say an adjective that begins with A, then with B, then with C. Until they get to the letter Z. This can be done with any topic at all, Animals, Colours, household items, countries, school items, nouns, places. Anything you can think of that is likely to have lots of choices. I have an FREE Adjective A to Z worksheet, it has a really cute picture of a cat as well!, that works quite well for this to start you off.
I do this is class quite often as a listening and reading exercise. I have two pieces of paper ( we have one on the site as well) Mine is a draw a cute monster. The first one is a reading / listening exercise where you can read out or have them read out the description and then have them all try to draw it. You can then take a look at the results there should be some funny ones! You can of course do this with any topic or image you like!
The other side of the paper asks them to draw then write about their monster to assess their writing and comprehension skills. If you can send them materials like this it could be done and presented on Zoom or Padlet as well.
Read aloud and storytelling (with puppets is cool!)
Doing storytelling and shared reading is great online. It gives the students a chance to sit back and listen. If they have full timetables (insanity by the way) then a break from staring at screen will be great. If you do a read along then you will need the book on screen or in hand (screen might be better) if you have puppets it is nice to put on a little show for them, especially younger learners. There are also sites like Vooks who are offering free trial periods and were offering a year free for teachers as well.
These are ways to make stories for kids by imputing a few words and letting it generate the rest. There are sites that do this. You can find a couple here and here. You can do this as a group in class and then read or have them read it, or you can ask them to do it before the lesson and have them present their crazy stories.
The Memory Game
This needs a little preparation, but you can find images on google pretty quickly. You will need prepare a slide or picture with 20 or so items on it. And then a few slides with a different item from those 20 items missing. Students have a set amount of time to try to remember what is one the slide or picture and then when you take one item away, they have to work out which item is missing. See who can work it out the fastest. If you don’t want to make multiple slides you can take it off screen share and cut and paste one from the slide as needed
Virtual Field trips
Lots of organizations, museum galleries and zoos etc. have opened themselves up to allow people to take virtual tours and trips to them during the pandemic. Taking a virtual walk through these with your class is a really nice thing to do, you can act as the guide for their questions. We will try to put together an article of the better ones to try on the site in the coming weeks in the mean time here is Good Housekeeping’s effort!
We have a selection of games you can adapt for online learning. Swing phonics can be used if you assign numbers 1234 or 123 to the possible answers. Some Teach your Monster to Read mini games can also be used the same way. The links to both are here.
Play PowerPoint games – Blockbusters
I have a LOT of these and they lend themselves very well to Zoom as a whole class. I have a blockbusters game which (and here is another 80s video) asks students to go horizontally or vertically across a grid of letters. You can do this online really well. The FREE template linked here can be changed to suit your class and subject. I have also put an instruction video on that page. It is a great game and free for you as well.
PowerPoint game – Jeopardy
Another based on a game show activity. This one is also editable. It has 6 subjects that you can change to suit. Each category has 5 questions from 100 to 500 points and students have to pick a question to answer. If they answer correctly, they get the points for their team. Here is an FREE Animal version to use or adapt for you. We also have a FREE long and short Vowel version that you can change up if you need to as well.
Heads Up Type Games
Well, shamelessly, Guess What. This is my Android Educational version of the game made popular by the Ellen Show. You need your phone or a tablet for this game so they have to be able to see it, and you can’t. (or you can pretend you cant!!) Here are the full instructions for you in writing and the picture above is the video guide 🙂
The game is simple. I have a selection of categories to choose that display random words from that category. You press start and then put the phone to your head. All your little students watching have to acting out the word so you can guess it! , if you get it right ( they will squeal yes when you do) you flip the phone down, if you pass you flick the phone up and its will change the word. You only have 60 seconds to get as many as you can, and the whole class will be trying to help.
There is also an option to write your own list of words for you children or students to make it more tailored to their needs. It is completely free and the best way to get the idea is to watch the video we have above.
These guys have a selection of games for younger learners on multiple subjects that can be screen shared to make more engaging activities for English and math’s as well.
This site has a larger range of subject to choose from for a more broad choice for teachers of other subjects. You can check them out here. Again you will need to share the screen for these and adapt the way you use them a little, but it will add a little more than just teacher input.
Zoom for younger learners certainly presents challenges for teachers, parents and students. The feeling of talking to a screen of moving postage stamps, the idle thoughts of this is what it must be like to be a YouTube and pretty distressingly the feeling that by keeping the students at rhe screen for so long you may be doing more harm than good.
The activities above go someway to tackle some of these issues. they offer an element of interactivity that may be missing from lessons. Although generic in nature most can be tailored for different subjects and levels and even if used as a break in the middle of lessons they will provide a welcome respite from the lecture style of education that Zoom lends its self to. Your students will really appreciate the effort you make to ”spice” up their lessons, and so you will you.
In the words of Rita Pierson
Teachers become great actors and actresses, and we come to work when we don’t feel like it, we listen to policy that doesn’t make sense and we teach anyway, We teach anyway, cos that’s what we do…Rita Pierson