Image credit: Chris Pirillo, Creative Commons

Google-Based Games and Activities

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. Hey, great activities! I like the ‘Guess the Google Search’ one, but I teach a lot of younger students so I’ll have to make sure the predicted search terms are appropriate before I use them… I’m going to play Google Fight in class tomorrow!
    Have you seen Google Doodles? https://www.google.com/doodles/
    This is a collection of all the doodles Google have made (i.e. when they change the Google logo on a particular day to represent something significant that’s happening). I’ve made a game of guess the doodle before, it worked well.

    • Hi Pete. Thanks for the suggestion! I’ll add your idea to the post (with a proper mention). If you have posted the activity on your blog, please let me know and I’ll link it to your post. I’m teaching young adults so I don’t have to censor search content a lot (though some search suggestions make me doubt humanity at times:) Please mind that if you play Googlefight on a smartphone, the stick figures are not always visible. Take care and thanks again for the comment!

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