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Distancing without Disconnecting: Zoom Games

by Dr. Bruce Ellis
Zoom games

Whether you are a teacher working with students or are just trying to work from home during this strange time, it’s important to social distance without disconnecting. Social and emotional support is a valuable resource to provide. Here are a few games you can play using Zoom to connect with students, friends, and peers. Though these are not necessarily content- or work-focused, you can easily tweak them to make them fit those needs.

Believe It or Not!

There are lots of sites that provide trivia knowledge and quizzes based on specific areas of interest. For this game, the host should identify the area of interest and then gather trivia knowledge from the internet. Change some statements slightly before sharing with your players. Players can then do thumbs up/down to indicate whether they believe the statement or not. Once everyone has voted, tell whether the statement is true or not. If it isn’t true, tell the true trivia information. For example, “Marco Polo discovered pasta. Believe it or not?” That’s actually false as found in the will of Ponzio Baestone, a Genoan soldier who requested “bariscella peina de macarone” – a small basket of macaroni. His will is dated 1279, 16 years before Marco Polo returned from China. (REFERENCE) If the trivia information is written as a question, but not a yes/no question, consider rewording to to make it easier for players. For example, “How many stars are in the American flag?” could be reworded to “There are 51 stars in the American flag. Believe it or not?” That’s false; there are actually 50. Here are some locations to check out for interesting trivia knowledge:

Scavenger Hunt

If you have had the opportunity to watch daytime TV programming, you may have come across a show called Let’s Make a Deal. I don’t think they do it anymore, but “back in the day” at the end of the show the host, Monty Hall, would ask if someone has a _____ (and then call out a random object). Audience members would quickly rummage through their purses and bags hoping to be the first to pull out the object for him. If you were the first, you would win some money. This is a similar game except you aren’t limited to what you have in your purse or on the table. For this game, the host calls out an item. It can be generic (like a can of food) or it can be specific (such as a can of beans). Players have a designated amount of time to run locate the item at their house and bring it to show on video. Players that arrive back with the item before the time limit receive a point.


Like the real game, the virtual game has one player that is drawing while his/her teammates are trying to guess what it is. Once players are put into teams, consider having them rename themselves with their team name and their first name. This will keep it easier to keep track of who is on which team. Here’s how players can rename themselves (scroll to the section CHANGING THE NAME INSIDE A ZOOM ROOM). As the host, private chat the person who is to draw first – this way no other players can see the word. Before the first drawer begins, have his team identify themselves to make sure they all know who is on which team. The team has 30 seconds to correctly guess what is being drawn using the white board feature. If successful, the team gets a point. Play moves to the other team. Here are lists of words to help you get started:

Going on a Picnic

This is a fun game to play with students. It is something like a twist on 20 questions. The player that is “going on a picnic” answers yes/no questions of everyone else. Players are trying to guess what rule was used to pack the basket. For example, the rule could be things that are red in which case someone could ask, “Did you pack strawberries?” in which you would answer yes. If someone asked if you packed bicycles, you would answer “It depends” since some bicycles are red. After players have had a chance to offer ideas of what was packed, you can either allow them to guess or send them to breakout rooms to discuss what they think the rule might be. Once everyone is back together (from their breakout rooms…if you are using those) call on someone to guess the rule or allow them to ask about more items that might be in the basket.


In this game, the group is divided into at least two teams. One member of a team goes first. His teammates try to guess what is being acted out before the time limit. As the host, send a private chat to him and give him a choice of two different things to act out. He chats you back which one he chooses and begins acting when you say begin. As the host, you are to listen for the team guessing to see if they correctly identify what is being acted out. If correct, that team gets a point and play goes to the other/next team. Here are some ideas if you need some help getting started:

Two Truths and a Lie

This is a great game to play to get to know everyone better. Each player makes up two truths and a lie about themselves. They may find it easiest to write these down so they’ll remember them when it becomes their turn. When it is a player’s turn, that player shares two truths and the lie (in whatever order they choose). Everyone else is to guess which of the three statements is a lie. Others can hold up 1, 2, or 3 on their fingers, say the number out loud, or type the number in the chat box. Once everyone has voted, the person identifies the lie…and usually clarifies why it is a lie. This game is a lot of fun and requires no real preparation beforehand or props for players.


This game has gone by several names throughout the years. In this game, one player is a dictionary and tells the group a word and then gives everyone else a minute to come up with what could be the definition. Each person is given a chance to share what the definition might be before the dictionary player reveals the real definition. This is a fun way to build vocabulary and introduce students to new words.

If playing with high school students or adults, then consider this twist. The dictionary player privately chats the definition to another player; that player will share the real definition (or a more believable way of saying it) as their guess. After everyone has had a chance to share their guess, they vote on which definition they believe is correct. Those voting for the correct definition get a point. Another player becomes the dictionary and play continues. You may need to establish the rule at the beginning that no one but the dictionary player can search the Internet. If you are not a logophile (a lover of words), then consider using these sites to help you:


Who doesn’t love a good game of Scattegories! Playing online through Zoom can be just as fun. The host needs to share her screen and go to https://swellgarfo.com/scattergories/. Once everyone has a piece of paper and a pen/pencil, the host needs to click the Restart icon; a random letter will appear along with twelve categories. When the host clicks the Play icon, the categories are revealed and countdown begins. When the time is up, have each person share what they have for each category. Players get a point for each answer that is not duplicated by anyone else, but is acceptable by everyone.

Share Your Zoom Games

These are just a few of the fun ways people are distancing without disconnecting. What other games have you played with your friends while on Zoom? We’d love to hear about them. Share your ideas with us in the comments below.

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Peggy Reimers April 28, 2020 - 3:57 pm

Let’s Make a Deal is still around. It is hosted by Wayne Brady (the guy from Whose Line Is It Anyway?)

Claire Wilkison May 12, 2020 - 8:55 am

We’ve played “Stand Up If…” It’s a fun informal assessment to see what their days in quarantine sound like. For example, “Stand Up If you read a book within the past week.” The kids really enjoyed it.

We’ve also taken some virtual field trips to China, Paris, and Egypt! 🙂

Lindsay Foster May 12, 2020 - 9:23 am

I have been hosting a weekly “game night”/appy hour with educators featuring a different game each week. Some of the games we’ve done or will do are:
Boggle (using Jamboard) – example https://jamboard.google.com/d/1FkWK2lfQDLKnzw4R4FYiqqZAEx4U_Q6Gn3lgdcDXc2A/edit?usp=sharing
Name/Animal/Place/Thing (using Jamboard) – example https://jamboard.google.com/d/1RaPXQJIcff81d2TxEC5mGq9hiTIAKh1lgde7j8EjycE/edit?usp=sharing
Family Feud – example https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/17BNW9Q-LkbMtl8oVQAsaPMfzPpRPlKRJjbqVVs28Hzg/edit?usp=sharing (Click on the number and choose “delete” to reveal the answer)
Some other games could be the Minute to Win It challenges (https://www.thechaosandtheclutter.com/archives/family-fun-night-minute-to-win-it)

Andy Adams September 17, 2020 - 10:54 am

I found this from my colleague Michelle Cooper: https://letsticktogether.com/products/virtual-sticktogether-collaboration It allows you to invite others to collaboratively complete an art project. It may not be the best “live” game, but worth a look. It shared to support Dot Day in a virtual way.

25 Strategies to Engage Students on Your Next Zoom Meeting | Hooked On Innovation September 25, 2020 - 6:44 am

[…] TCEA Tech Notes – Zoom Games – This post came out while I was writing this post and contains many other games like the scavenger hunt and Pictionary that teachers could benefit from using. […]

Brian Balestri November 5, 2020 - 9:30 am

Another fun game we’ve been playing on Zoom friends and co-workers is the 9 Truths Game. In the game, players anonymously answer True/False questions on their laptop, phone, or tablet, and then guess how many of the other players also answered “True”. Points are scored based on how close you are to the correct number, but the real fun of the game is the hilarious stories that go along with people’s answers. And the best part is that it’s free to play and there are no ads. http://www.9Truths.com

Jennifer Glowacki January 11, 2021 - 1:15 pm

I remember the old TV Game show To Tell the Truth and wanted to do that with my students. So. Much. Fun! Here is a Google Doc with the basic directions:
While we were waiting for the It group to get their story straight, we played Two Truths and. a Lie. Thank you for these ideas. I’m excited to learn more about the 9 Truths.


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