Image credit: Chris Pirillo, Creative Commons

Whether we like it or not, we are no longer a comprehensive ‘know-it-all’ repository of knowledge in the classroom. Everything we know and more is readily available via smartphone, and students have access to it unless we forbid the use of technology (smartphones) in the classroom. The latter practice is more like trying to herd cats. First, they will find a way anyway, and second, to what greater benefit?

They say no teacher can compete with Google. I say we need no competition; there’s enough room for both of us in the classroom (provided we put smartphones to good use). Today I’ll share a few Google-based games that you can play with your students to the end of better learning (and increased engagement). These activities require little preparation and are very easy to arrange.

1. Guess the Google Search.

This is the activity with Google autocomplete suggestions for words or phrases. Ask your students to give 3 guesses for the word starting, for example, with “s”. Type “s” in the search field and read out a series of suggestions. Award one point per word guessed. Similarly, you may ask your students to give 3 guesses for a phrase or sentence (e.g. ask students to continue the phrase ‘ a good….” or sentence “Is she…”). Read out the search suggestions. A student who guesses the phrase or sentence as given in the suggestion gets one point.

2. “Google or Gavin”

This activity is based on the infamous Google or Gavin guessing game, where Burnie gives a short phrase to both Gavin and the Google search engine, and players guess who returned which phrase, Gavin or Google. A similar game has been played recently in the Late Late Show with James Corden.

Pair up or split your students into small teams, give different beginnings of sentences (e.g. sentences starting with modal verbs – I can…may I…should I; or sentences with 3rd person singular she likes…; etc.) and ask them to provide two sentences – an actual Google autocomplete and a fake one. The team/pair that guesses which sentences are actual Google search autocompletes gets one point. This activity can be used to get your students to drill or brush up on grammar or vocabulary in a very engaging way.

3. Googlefight

You can find it here. This game is highly addictive. Pair up students and ask each student to think of two words or phrases under a certain category (use it as a chance to review target vocabulary). Two animated stick figures fight onscreen after the keywords are entered, and then a bar graph shows the comparative results. The student who returns the highest Google search results is the winner.



4. Guess the Word (Image Search)

Pair up or split students into teams. Ask students to think of a word, use the Google Image Search and choose 3-5 images (3 or 5 levels of difficulty) to show to other student (s). The task is to guess the search word.

Here’s an idea for the game kindly suggested by Pete from ELT PLANNING (Check out his lesson plan Using Google Doodles to Revise Dates)

5. Guess the Doodle

Doodles are fun and creative changes that are made to the Google logo to celebrate holidays, anniversaries, and the lives of famous artists, pioneers, and scientists. There are over 2,000 doodles in the Google archive.

Pick a doodle and ask students to guess which event it represents.

Alternatively, divide students into two teams. Have them browse through the archive and choose doodles to show to the other team to guess. Ask the teams to prepare 3 clues. If the team guesses without the clues, they get 4 points. Each clue subtracts 1 point. (Or, instead of clues, teams may be allowed to ask 3 questions. Each question substracts 1 point).

Please leave me a comment if you know any other Google games to play in the classroom.

Thank you for stopping by and happy teaching!


  1. Very cool! My only concern would be inappropriate search results, especially images that sometimes come up in response to the most innocent search items, but I imagine you could tweak that with parental controls. Thank you for sharing and I look forward to trying out some of these!


    1. Hi Yuliya! Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment! I make sure my students have enabled the Safe Search filter (Google Search) before they play. It filters out any explicit content that may come up in the search results. You can enable this feature on Androids as well. Let me know how it goes with your students!


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