Online Games

Online games, to support curriculum for the Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto for the 2020-2021 congregational year. These are games meant to be played on Zoom or other videoconferencing platform.

Games for children and young teens
Games for teens and adults


Games for children and young teens

1. Simon Says (UU Online Version)

One of the teachers is Simon. When this teacher says “Simon says [some action],” and does the action themselves, everyone in the class has to do that same action. Example: the teacher says “Simon says, ‘Touch your nose’!” while touching their nose, and that means everyone else has to touch their nose. If someone doesn’t do what Simon says, then they have to say something about themselves (see lists below).

HOWEVER, if the teacher just says “Touch your nose!” while touching their nose, NO ONE ELSE should touch their nose — because the teacher didn’t preface “Touch your nose!” with the phrase “Simon says.” If someone does an action when Simon didn’t say so, then they have to say something about themselves (see lists below).

List of things to say about yourself (all ages):
Favorite color
Favorite ice cream flavor
Favorite vegetable
Favorite animal
Favorite fruit
Favorite dinosaur
Favorite holiday
Do you have any pets?
If you could have any pet, what would it be?

List of more things to say about yourself for older kids:
Favorite musical instrument
Favorite book
Favorite invertebrate
Favorite board game
What’s your Halloween costume going to be?
What makes you laugh?
Which do you prefer, washing the dishes or taking out the trash?
You can only eat one food the rest of your life, what is it?
Rollercoasters, good or bad? Why?
Do you collect anything? If so, what?

2. Getting-to-know-you questions

For older kids and middle schoolers.

Choose a question. Everyone who wants to answers it. Here are some to get you started:

1. Where’s your favorite vacation place? Tell us what makes it great!
2. Tell us about your morning routine before going to school.
3. What would you do if you won the lottery?
4. What’s your favorite thing to do on weekends? Why?
5. What was the best time in your life?
6. Why did your parents give your name? (if you know)
7. Do you like your name, or do you want to change it?
8. What do you think is best — to be the oldest, youngest, middle, or only child? — and which are you?
9. What’s your favorite holiday, and why?
10. What would your dream job be?
11. Are there any household chores do you enjoy doing? Which ones and why?
12. Do you believe in the supernatural — ghosts, spirits, etc.? Tell us what specifically.
13. Who are two of your heroes?
14. Which of your friends has been a big influence on you?
15. Which adult has been a big influence on you?
16. Which character form a book, movie, etc., has had a big influence on you?
17. What’s your favorite picture book, and why?
18. Are you superstitious? What are your superstitions?
19. What’s your favorite chapter book, and why?
20. What’s your favorite dessert food?
21. What is your best personality trait?
22. What’s your strangest talent?Tell us about one of your hobbies.
23. Who has been your favorite teacher ever, and why?
24. Can you tell when someone is lying to you? How can you tell?
25. Describe your best Halloween costume ever.
26. What is your favorite time of year?
27. Do you hold grudges?
28. Tell us about something you tried that you will NEVER try again.
29. What is the best advice anyone ever gave you?
30. You have the power to grant three wishes to anyone. Who would you grant those wishes to, and why?
31. If you got stuck in an elevator, who would be the person you’d most like to be stuck with?
32. What’s your favorite snack food?
33. Tell us about the most beautiful place you’ve ever been to.
34. What is the best invention the world has ever seen?
35. Are you always on time, or always late? — and are you happy the way you are, or do you want to change?
36. Do you have a bad habit that you want to change?
37. Do you think thing happen for a reason, or is life random?
38. What’s more important — good looks, or good personality?
39. Would you rather live out in the country, in the middle of the big city?
40. If you could do one thing to help your community, what would you do?
41. You have the power to make one new law — what would it be?
42. You have the power to ban one food — which food would you ban, and why?
43. Do you believe it’s possible to end war? Why or why not?
44. If you could have a secret super power, what would it be?
45. If you had the gift to see into the future, would you use it?
46. Do you like surprises?
47. Say one thing you hate about school, and one thing you like about school.
48. Describe yourself in 3 words (no more).
49. If you see a homeless person on the street asking for money, what do you do?
50. What are three things you can’t live without?
51. How are you going to be different a year from now? — what do you WANT to be different about yourself a year from now?
52. Someone gives you a hundred million dollars. What’s the first thing you’d do?
53. What is your favorite comfort food — food that makes you feel good?
54. What’s your favorite meal — breakfast, lunch, dinner — and why?
55. What do you like to do for exercise?
56. Are you organized or disorganized? — and are you happy being the way you are?
57. Do you make friends easily? — or does it take you a while to make friends?
58. Do you like to dress so that you look good, or do you like to dress so you feel most comfortable?
59. Is life fair, unfair, or neither?
60. What’s the first thing you want to do when the pandemic ends?

Or try this list of questions, or use one of the many books or card decks out there.

3. Change one thing

One person is IT. They or the teacher stop their video (but not their audio) for TEN seconds (longer for younger kids). While their video is off, IT changes one thing that can be seen in the background behind them. When their video comes back on, everyone else has to guess what got changed.

4. Reverse Silent Charades

Non-team version, for small groups: One person is the guesser, everyone else is an actor. The teacher comes up with the phrase or word to act out, and sends private messages of that word or phrase to all the actors. Then when the teacher says “Go!” all the actors start to act out whatever it is — though they have to be silent — and the guesser tries to guess. (For the youngest children, the teacher may want to mute all the actors.)

Team version: Split the group into two teams. Team A are actors, Team B are guessers. The teacher sends the word or phrase to be guessed via private message to Team A, and when the teacher says “Go!” everyone on Team A acts out the word or phrase. Once Team B guesses, then the teams switch roles.

To find words, use the Word Generator on the Game Gal Web site.

5. Single Item Scavenger Hunt

Use this activity to break up lessons — a few minutes of lesson, then a round of Scavenger Hunt, then a few more minutes of lesson, etc.

The teacher has a list of things to find during a scavenger hunt. (See below for list ideas.) When it’s time for a break in the lesson, the teacher says, “Scavenger hunt time!” and reads one item from the list, and everyone has thirty seconds to go and try to find it. The teacher can either keep score, or just play for fun.

List of scavenger hunt items for younger kids:
something that’s red (or whatever color)
something that makes noise (or specify the noise, e.g., ticking, crinkling, etc.)
ask an adult their favorite color
a sneaker (one that you’re not wearing)
something that’s round (or whatever shape)
one square of toilet paper
a cup or a glass

List of scavenger hunt ideas for getting to know others (when kids bring these things back, they tell about them):
a toy you no longer use much (say why you no longer use it much)
a favorite toy (say what they like about the toy)
a book you’ve read, OK to bring a e-reader (tell what they like about the book)
something that makes you laugh (tell why)
something that makes them feel bored (tell why it bores them)

More kid-friendly scavenger hunt ideas here.


Games for teens and adults

1. Foreign Phrases


1. Foreign phrases from a variety of countries (you can use foreign phrase books, or find relevant Web sites by searching for “useful phrases in [language]” or “essential phrases in [language]”).
2. Every participant should have pencil and paper, or something to write with.

Preparation ahead of time:

The person running the game writes down common expressions in several foreign languages. You want something you can read aloud, so if you don’t know the language find a phonetic version. Pick some phrases that people might be able to guess, such as:

Да ли говорите енглески?
(Da li govorite engleski?)
Do you speak English?

Also pick some phrases that might be difficult to guess, such as

Долазите ли често овамо?
(Dolazite li chesto ovamo?)
Do you come here often?

How to play:

One player in each round is the Judge.

The person running the game reads aloud one of the phrases. If unsure of the pronunciation, the person running the game should also copy the phrase into Zoom chat.

Every player except the Judge writes down their translation of the phrase. If a player knows the language, and knows the correct translation, they can either give the correct translation or make something up.

After 30 seconds (or whatever time you decide on), everyone reads their translation aloud. The Judge awards five points for their favorite translation. The person running the game gives two points for every correct translation.

Adapted from Games People Play by Penny Warner (Meadowbrook Press, 1997).

2. Great Minds Think Alike

This game is distantly related to the TV game show Family Feud.


1. Every player should have paper and pencil, or something to write with.

Preparation ahead of time:

The person running the game comes up with several broad categories. Some examples of good categories:
Found at the Beach
Types of Hats
Tastes Like Chicken
Frightens Little Children
Things That Go Fast
Write each category on an index card, or figure out some way to randomly choose a category.

How to play:

The person running the game divides the group into two teams, Team One and Team Two. You can write the names of each team in chat, or just read them out loud — just make sure everyone knows who’s in each team.

The person running the game pulls an index card from the pile, and reads it aloud. Players have 60 seconds (or whatever time you decide) to write down as many things as they can think of that belong in that category. For example, if the team has “Found at the Beach,” a team member might write down sun, sand, waves, beach balls, sunscreen, towels, and so on.

When time is up, the members of Team One read aloud their answers. If two people have the same item on their list, the team gets two points; if three people have the same item on their list, the team gets three points; and so on. For each item that is only on one person’s list, the team loses one point.

Next, Team Two figures out their score.

Play several rounds, and the team with the highest score wins.


A. If you have more than half a dozen people on each team, scoring can take forever if both teams go at the same time. So have Team One draw a category and score them, then have Team Two draw a different category and score them, and keep trading off that way.

B. If you have more than 6-8 people per team, you might want to split into three teams.

Adapted from Games People Play by Penny Warner (Meadowbrook Press, 1997).

3. Married Names

What if Whitney Houston married Brad Pitt, and decided to take his last name? Her friends might call her Whit Pitt. If The Weekend married Tom Cruise, their child’s hyphenated last name would be Weekend-Cruise. If King Kong married Stephen King, the big ape would be known as King Kong King. If Phyllis Diller married Bruce Willis, then Bruce died and Phyllis married Dobie Gillis, she could call herself Phyllis Willis Gillis. If Snoop Doggy Dogg married Winnie the Pooh, their children’s last names would be — um, let’s not go there.

How to play:

Everyone thinks of a famous person — movie star, author, politician, fictional character, musician, etc.

The person running the game determines who goes first, second, etc., and types the list of names in order into chat.

The first player reads their famous name aloud. Everyone else has 30 seconds to pair that name with another famous person, creating a new and funny name. Add up your score (see below). Then the second player reads their famous name aloud. Continue until everyone has read their famous name aloud.

A. Each player who comes up with a new and funny name pairing gets one point, UNLESS someone else comes up with the same name pairing, in which case neither one gets any points.
B. The player who read the famous name aloud gets one point for every name pairing.
C. If no one can come up with a new and funny name pairing, the person who read the famous name aloud LOSES one point.

Adapted from Games People Play by Penny Warner (Meadowbrook Press, 1997).

4. Getting to know you questions

Choose a question. Everyone who wants to answers it. Try this list of questions, or use one of the many books or card decks out there.

5. Monster movie charades

Divide the group into two teams, and send them into breakout rooms (the Zoom host does not go into a breakout room).

Each team has five minutes to write down a dozen movie monsters. Examples of movie monsters include Frankenstein, Godzilla, etc. When the team has come up with a dozen monsters, they send the list via private chat to the Zoom host. They can also strategize about who their best actors are, so when the Zoom host asks for an actor, they know whom they want to pick.

When everyone is back in the main room, the Zoom host asks Team One to pick one person to act out a movie monster. Then the Zoom host spotlights that person’s video, and they act out the movie monster — no talking allowed — until someone on their team guesses it correctly.

Teams alternate until you run out of monsters, or get sick of the game.


A. Instead of acting until their team guesses the monster, the actor has a time limit — maybe two minutes.

B. To mute or not to mute? You can decide whether or not the actor is allowed to use sound effects.

C. Instead of teams picking their own player to act out the monster, each player in turn has to act out the monster.

Adapted from Games People Play by Penny Warner (Meadowbrook Press, 1997).