Language Games for Distance Learning

Hello friends!

We’re 4 days into Online School and we played our first games yesterday using Google Meet. I had no idea what to expect, and to tell you the truth, I had really low expectations, but I’m delighted to report that it was so nice to “see” my Little Darlings and we had a lot of fun playing “together”.

A bit of context first:

I’ve given my kiddos a weekly schedule with their Spanish assignments, to work on at their own pace. In addition to their required work, they have the option to join me for some “Vamos a hablar/ vamos a jugar“, scheduled at the same time, same day every week, using Google Meet.  (If you’re not a Google School, Zoom  is another option that I hear a lot of teachers talking about. I’d prefer to use it because it has a few more features, but my district is requiring Google Meet for video conferencing, so, Google Meets it is!)  Since our “get together”  is optional, I was delighted that  8 of my Spanish 4s joined me  in the morning and  9 more Spanish 1s played with me in the afternoon. (Full disclosure: Not a single Heritage kiddo showed up to our scheduled time, but I’m focusing on the positives here!) I ‘m hopeful that next week more will hop in, as they get more bored AND they hear how much fun it was!

Update: I just learned about the “Google Meet Grid View” Extension, which will allow me to see all my Little Darlings at once! I can’t wait to play with it during our next check in!

The Plan:

We chit chatted for a few minutes, first in English as students joined the chat, then switching into Spanish, following our usual “Start of the Class” routine. You know, all the basics, ¿Cómo están? ¿Qué día es hoy? ¿Qué tiempo hace? and small talk like that… Brady, ¿Qué comes? , Maddie, ¿Cómo está tu perro, Sunny?  That lasted about 10 minutes.  I’m sure for really gifted CI teachers, they could stretch it out and ride the PQA wave, but for me, 10 minutes was plenty…it jsut felt a little…awkward.  I was anxious to switch gears and play!

Distance Learning Games

  • Scavenger Hunt- I played this with both my classes, and it was hilarious! I stated slowly and clearly, “Busca un zapato rojo” and the first student to find the object, show it to me and yell ¡Lo tengo! earned a point. (With Google Meet, the video is displayed of the student talking, so that’s why they have to say it, so I can see it on my screen) It was funny watching my high schoolers sprint out of their bedrooms (or run with their ChromeBooks down the hall) in a mad dash to find their object! (Nothing really happened with the points, other than me narrating each round, “Ava tiene dos points. Pobre Brady, no tiene puntos. ¿Estás triste, Brady”…I haven’t figured out good online prizes, have you?! Please do tell!)  Of course since we’re CI teachers, you’ll pick objects that your students can understand! If your students don’t know the word for sock, don’t ask them to look for a pink sock! Here are some possibilities (written in English below, but of course, you’d say it in your target language!):
    • Look for..
      • a fruit
      • a picture of your grandmother
      • a live animal
      • a member of your family
      • a new dollar
      • a bottle of water
      • a roll of toilet paper
      • deodorant
      • a red shoe
      • a green toothbrush
      • a small toy
      • a stuffed animal
      • a remote control for your TV
      • A car key
      • A school book
      • Of course, another possibility is describing an object…by color, size, shape, etc. Look for something yellow and bring and bring it to me!…¡Miren muchachos! Sadie tiene un Tweety Bird enorme. 
  • GimKit- Today we played GimKit after the scavenger hunt. (A word about GimKit: students LOVE it! Like they go bonkers for GimKit! I generally save it for the end of the year because if we play it in September, that’s all they’ll want to play, all year long! I’m not crazy about it…it’s fun but I haven’t really figured out a good way to make it an input game. We just play with vocab and translations. ) After you build a kit (load all your vocab and translations, which you can do easily by exporting vocab from Quizlet, if you’re into that sort of thing), click on “Play”, then set the time limit. It seemed like 10 minutes was perfect for our purposes! Get that all set up and ready to go in it’s own tab. Then, after you’re done checking it and chatting with your kiddos, click  “share your screen”, jump over to GimKit and click “Continue”. The students will see a website and a code to join the game. They can play in a new tab OR using their phones. And…they can still hear you, while they’re playing. GimkitWhile students played, I narrated the game, and watched the scoreboard….easy peasy for me!  After the game finished , I “stopped sharing” and chatted with my Little Darlings a few minutes. They LOVED GimKit and I suspect they’ll want to play it every week.
  • Kahoot- I think I’ll try Kahoot next week. Once everyone joins and we chit chat for a few minutes, I’ll “Screen Share” and show them the join screen. They can either open a new tab OR use their phones to log in and play. If students open a new tab, they’ll need to switch between the two tabs (The Google Meets where they will see the questions and the second tab where they’ll be ringing in their answer)
  • Quizlet Live- Quizlet has made some changes, allowing students to play Quizlet Live individually, rather than on teams! Yay! Thank you, Quizlet! I love using Quizlet as a reading game, details here!
  • 20 Questions- I love playing 20 preguntas in my real life class and I think it will work to play using Google Meet. Open a new window (not a tab!) and open up the 20 Questions slideshow (lucky you, it’s been translated into German, Chinese, French, Portuguese AND Latin!) Resize the window (by clicking on the 2 little squares next to the X, in the top right corner of your window) and shrink it down by dragging the corner diagonally. Leave that ready to go, while you greet your kiddos and chit chat. Then, when you’re ready, click “Present” but this time, select “Share window” and select your 20 questions slide.  Position it so you can see both the 20 Questions AND the Google Meets screen.To play, the teacher thinks of an object (that your students know how to say in the target language!). In real life, we play in teams, and the teams take turns asking questions (using the slide to help them) and the teacher responds yes or no, and reviews the previous details that have already been established. For the Online Edition, if you have a small group, students can just call out their questions and the teacher will respond. For a larger group, I’d call on students to ask a question one at a time. As the students are listening, they can type in their guess in the chat feature. The first student who types in the correct answer is the winner. Then repeat with a new object. 

20 preguntas 2

  • Listen and Guess- Similar to 20 questions, it would be fun to describe movie plots in slow and comprehensible Spanish. When students think they’ve figured out which movie you’re describing, they type their guess into the Chat feature. Or you could describe famous people, or teachers at your school, or a place in your town, or…. The possibilities are endless! Or put an item in a box and give students clues/ or they ask questions to figure out what’s inside. The teacher talks, the students listen, then type in their guess. Load those Little Darlings up with (remote) comprehensible input!
  • ¿Cómo se dice? Just like Listen and Guess, ¿Cómo se dice?is a circumlocution game where the teacher describes a word in the target language, and students guess in English. For the Online Edition, we’ll play Chicos vs Chicas, and I’ll start describing words to the chicas. As they listen, they’ll type in their guess in the chat. As soon as one girl writes in the correct word I’m describing, go to another one. Do as many as you can in 1 minute, then start describing words to the chicos. Since thing is giing them input on circumlocution, you’re describing words they don’t know, so they write their guesses in English. Here are a few ideas to get you started: pushpin, windshield wipers, slippers, finger nail, gas station, Saturn, shower cap…
  • Parejas/Memory GameParejas is one of my all time favorites for reviewing a novel or movie, and there’s so much great repetition. In real life I print out the questions and answer and put them on my board. I like having a physical copy to hold, show them and then give the winners. Here’s a digital version that Brandon Sikkenga (36 questions) shared with me ages ago  or, if you want to try a smaller version, here’s the slideshow for 12 questions.  When you click the links above, you’l be prompted to make a copy, then you can personalize your game with questions and answers related to your content. Then to play, “present in a new window” so students can see the grid slide. Students pick numbers, the teacher clicks on it to show the question or answer (and reads it aloud), and then students pick another number. If those two numbers go together, if the Question and Answer match, it’s a pair! Since there’s no way to indicate on the slide that those numbers have already been selected, I think it’s best to use the chat feature to keep track of the numbers that are out of play (the matches that have already been found) and who won them. I think I’ll either have a student record in the chat, or do it myself: “2/ 26 Sam”  “16 / 31 Kayla” Students should check the numbers in the chat, to make sure they’re not out of play before calling new numbers. I haven’t tried this online yet, but I’m planning to just let students call out numbers if we’re playing in a small group, OR calling students in a bigger group.
  • Mafia/ Ataque I haven’t tried this online either, but I think it might work. Teacher should email specific students indicating who are the Mafia/Attackers and who is the police, then play as normal, “presenting in a new window” so students can see the slideshow. 


My friends, this is just the tip of the iceberg! I am sure there are a zillion more ideas that you’ve thought of that haven’t occurred to me yet! Please, comment and share! How are you engaging your Little Darlings using video conferencing?! As of now, we’re planning on going back April 20. If that doesn’t happen, you can bet I’ll have thought of more online games by then!! Stay tuned! What’s your prediction? When will you be heading back to school?! Or, are you in a state that’s already called it off for the rest of the year? 😦

Baile Viernes-

One more thing… Baile Viernes is one of our most beloved traditions in our real life class, and we’re keeping it alive while we’re home! Each week I’m posting Zumba Videos on Google Classroom AND texting them a Baile Viernes Promo video every Friday morning. You get a sneak peak of tomorrow’s promo, lucky you! (Sr. Chase and I are having a lot of fun during our Quarentena!)

Take care my friends!



  1. ME FASCINA la idea del Scavenger hunt “Lo tengo!” VOY A HACER ESTO!!!

    We are going to do Baile viernes this week to #QuedateEnCasa. Have you seen this? I’m excited but my kids are on the fence with baile viernes, so we’ll see! I have some who will do it, while most don’t. Depends on the class. I’m doing it anyway!!!

    I too have been wondering what the best prizes for online, especially since I’m usually dishing out the candy, cute erasers, stickers, etc. in class. I wonder if letting them choose something to be the starter for the next video meet would be motivating? (doesn’t have to be in Spanish) For example:
    (obviously you would reserve the right to reject if inappropriate)
    1. a funny meme
    2. a TikTok video
    3. a music video (maybe 1 minute of it)

    I’m anxious to hear what ideas others have!!!


  2. YOU are so amazing. love it. I’m hoping we are up online with our students soon. I am so thankful for you, your resources and willingness to share!


  3. Merci for these great ideas! I was quite overwhelmed last night when we learned that our VT schools will be closed for the rest of the year! But as usual your creativity and enthusiasm have lifted my spirit! Will do des chasses au trésor for sure and thinking of how we will play Loups-Garous virtuellement! Merci again ❤️


  4. I played running dictation as a brain break last week. I asked them to leave a piece of paper and a pencil in another room in their house. Then, I gave them a few sentences and they ran to that room to write the sentence. They had lots of fun running all over trying to come back the fastest. At the end of class, I asked them to take a picture of their answers and send them to me.


  5. Thanks for all of the FANTASTIC ideas. I have been using GIMKIT as well. One way that I try to make it less of a vocab game and more of a CI game, is to write 4 short sentences about a story we have read in class. They have to find the one that is FALSE (or TRUE!). So, hopefully this is providing a little more repetition-recycling of input within a context.


    • Oh I like that idea! So when you set it up, what’s the question? Something like “which statement is false?” And then the false one is the correct answer?


  6. Thank you for sharing all of your wonderful ideas! I wanted to share about another one of your games I tried today on Zoom. We played Mientes con todos los dientes, and it went great! I had students send me a private message in the chat with a personal tidbit that other people wouldn’t know. I picked one of them that would provide for good discussion/input, then grouped the person that submitted it with 1-2 other students (depending on the number of attendees), and interviewed all of them as if the statement were true. After the interviews were over, I recapped the details each person provided and asked everyone else who they believed. Everyone just voted – I didn’t worry about the team points from the original game.They lied like champs ;-)! It was fun and a great source of lots of input. Thank you!!!


  7. Reading through your ideas, I thought of a twist on the scavenger hunt and parejas that I’m going to try tomorrow. I’ll have an object nearby that they can’t see. Instead of asking them to search for that specific object, I’ll ask them to find something in the general category. For example, if I have a banana, I’ll tell them to look for fruit. Students earn points by being the first one back or having the closest match to my actual object. I figure I can get some mileage out of naming the different fruits kids bring and talking about why so and so’s matches best with mine. At any rate, it’s our next-to-last day of school and I’m mostly just looking to end they year with some smiles. Thanks for all of your great ideas and encouraging posts : )


    • LOVE IT! You always have great game ideas, Chris! Enjoy your summer… I’m sure looking forward to a break!!


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