30 interactive Google Slides activities for classroom excitement

1. Create a PDF ebook

PDF files are about as universal as it gets. You can open them on almost any Internet-ready device. They’re read-only, so publishing a PDF is a good way to distribute information to be consumed by reading. Google Slides is a great, simple PDF ebook creation tool. Create a slide presentation, change it to the dimensions you prefer, add content and finalize by going to File > Download as … > PDF Document.

I created a PDF ebook to help you create PDF ebooks. (I hope that’s not as ridiculous as it looked as I typed it.) Click here to check out a post all about it. Or, take a look at the original Google Slides file where I created it. (Feel free to make a copy by going to File > Make a copy … but please don’t click “Share” and ask for edit access.)

ANOTHER FREE EBOOK — I wrote an ebook called “101 Practical Ways to Ditch That Textbook” as a gift to my readers. I created it using Google Slides, just like the ebooks I describe above. “101 Practical Ways” is a huge compilation of tools and tips, backed up with screenshots, icons, links and more. Click here if you’d like to get it!

2. Create an interactive “slide deck book”.

This idea is inspired by Matt Macfarlane, a middle school history teacher from California. In true “Ditch That Textbook” fashion, he has turned from traditional textbooks to creating his own. He finds engaging content on the web and collects it in his “slide deck books.” His students access them online and can click links to get more information. He gives students an “anyone with link can view” link so they’re read-only.

3. Play a “Jeopardy!” game.

Jeopardy on a PowerPoint presentation has been a staple in many classes. It’s also possible to create via Google Slides. Eric Curts, a Google Certified Innovator, created this template that you can copy into your own Google Drive to customize with your own questions and answers. Keep track of the score on a whiteboard/chalkboard, on paper or through some other means.

(Note: When a question is answered, it doesn’t disappear from the board. You might want to display the game on a whiteboard instead of a projector screen. When a question is selected, draw an X through it with a dry erase marker.)

4. Create another game-show-style review game.

Google Slides can be used to create lots of different games. I used Google Slides in this file to create a “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” game. It was a simple one that can be played just by clicking through the slides. To create more complex games, you can create links to different slides in the presentation. (That’s how the Jeopardy! game was created.)

5. Animate a concept.

Creating a stop-motion animation can be done relatively easily in Google Slides. This gives students the ability to animate and turn abstract ideas into tangible, engaging visuals. Create the first slide of the animation. Then make a duplicate of that slide. Make some small changes and then duplicate that most recent slide. Continue to make changes and duplicate until the animation is complete. Here is a link to a great stop motion science example (pictured below) showing how an electrical impulse in the body gets a muscle to contract, created by a student in Chris Baker’s science class. 

6. Create an “online course”.

In a traditional online course, students can jump from section to section at will and progress through the pages of that chapter. There may be assessments to take as well. You can create that same experience in Google Slides. Create a slide presentation with sections of slides for each module in the course. The first slide can have links to the different modules of the course. You can even create questions on the slides for self-assessment or a link to a Google Forms quiz for a more formal assessment. See an example of an “online course” template here. (Make sure you click the “present” button if you want to “take” the course.”)

7. Assess with self-grading quizzes.

Self-grading quizzes give students immediate feedback. They also let students practice as much as they’d like without depending on the teacher. You can create self-paced assessments that provide answer feedback with Google Slides. For each standard four-question multiple-choice question, you’ll need five slides:

  • A question slide
  • A feedback slide for answer A
  • A feedback slide for answer B
  • A feedback slide for answer C
  • A feedback slide for answer D

On the question slide, for each possible answer, create a link to the feedback slide. Then, on each feedback slide, create a link to go on to the next question.

Want to see an example? Click here to see my quick one-question self-grading quiz.

8. Write a Choose Your Own Adventure story.

As a child, I loved these books, where your decisions affected the outcome for the character in the story. Google Slides lets you create similar experiences. They can be stories where the student can choose the path for the character. Students can create them, or teachers can create them for students. They can even be tied to any kind of class content. Tie the choices to answers for a question. (i.e. The character goes left if the student thinks the answer is 4.4 and goes right if the student thinks the answer is 7.2.)

I created a quick example of an impromptu, decide-on-a-whim vacation trip story where you decide for the main character. Click here to see that file (and feel free to make a copy and change the text for yourself!).

Here’s another example, created by a student of Mandi Tolen’s.
Mandi‘s students tied storytelling to math problems using Google Forms. The same concept could easily be applied to a Google Slide presentation.