teacher and boyGoogle Everything Search

Key Gaming Idea: Focus on the specific skills you want students to be able to demonstrate when they've completed the activity.

What do we want our students to be able to do or talk about when they have completed the learning experience?

Think about your students. Where are their strengths and weaknesses? How can you build a game that applies their strengths to improve their weaknesses?

Watkins and Elder (2006) found that students were looking for information on 19th century Paris and the French Restoration, but they end up at Restoration Warehouse a hardware store in California. Another student looks for Bourbon Dynasty, a ruling family in Europe and finds websites on Kentucky Bourbon and mixed drinks.

According to Alan Jacobs (2012), students need to learn how to conduct better searches both in Google as well as in research databases.

Search Tools

seussQuotes are often repeated, but they're usually not checked for accuracy. It's important to use multiple sources to triple-check findings. Play the Dr. Seuss Quote Game.

Explore the Google Everything Search which is the basic search when you open Google.

Search Filters

Conduct a Google Search. The left side of the screen shows filters that can be used during a search. Click MORE SEARCH TOOLS to see these options.

small blockConduct a search for photosynthesis, mitosis, or Civil War.
Click MORE SEARCH TOOLS to see the filters. Notice how the filters refine a search.
Which are most useful for a particular topic?

Search Tips and Tricks

Design activities and games around a particular type of search. This approach lets students focus on one technique at a time and gain experience with that tool.

small blockExplore some of the operators and search options.
Brainstorm ways they could be used in your curriculum.

Specialty Searches

Besides basic searches you can also do specialty searches like locating recipes and tracking packages.

Practice choosing web-friendly words.

Practice refining your search. Plan on three tries before you really find what you need. Start with a couple words, then be more specific if needed.

small blockShare Experiences. Create a Google Search Stories (backup) project sharing the key words and tools used in your search.

Participate in a real-world contest or event. Go to Google in Education: Students for a list of competitions, awards, programs, and tools.

Google Game Ideas

The Hammer Game: nailFewest Hits. Rather than finding the most hits, your job is to find the fewest number of results and still find the answer. Working in pairs, students search for the answer to a question. They record the search terms that they used to get their results. The team with the fewest number of hits and the correct answer wins. Use site:, the minus sign, range, and quotations to narrow the search and reduce the number of hits.

The Dog Ate the Note. The dog ate the letter! Now what do I do? I know that I'm supposed to go to a park. I know the area code of the location, but not the whole phone number. I know they have tennis courts since that's where we're supposed to meet. Can you find the location? I'm supposed to wear a color, but all they put was #FF0000. What does that mean? I'm supposed to bring a copy of a book, but I don't know which one. It just says 978-0590353403.


Secret Codes. Provide something in Braille, Morse code, or other code or language. Use Google to find resources to help figure out the problem. This works on content across subject areas.


Technical Assistance. You're on a Google helpline assisting people who can't get the right search works. Your job is to take their questions and turn them into better searches. For instance, when I search for when will the sun come up tomorrow?, it keeps giving my the song from Annie. Can you help me? Your boss pays you based on how many people you can help during a work shift. Let's make money!

Baseball. You get three strikes in baseball and in Google Baseball. Try three different searches. First strike is a general term. Look at your results for an answer. Second strike is a more specific search. Look at your results for an answer. Strike three is out if you can't find your answer. However it's a home run if you do. What search terms worked the best? Let's score points for our team!

Search Party! Searching is more effective when you have a search party looking for something. Try progressive searches. One person starts the search and the next person digs deeper and getting more and more specific. Can you work together for the best search? For example, science, then energy, then energy science experiment


Build a Stool. You need three legs if you want to build a stool. Less, and it won't it up. You need three sources of information to confirm. Find three pieces of evidence to support your idea. For instance, What's the political structure of a specific country? You need three to confirm.

small blockWorking pairs or threes, design a content-area (chemistry, roller coaster science, Civil War) or theme (Clifford the Big Red Dog, basketball, fashion) focused game that incorporates practice with at least three different types of searches. Provide examples of these searches. Be ready to share with the group. You need to be able to state the goal, rules, and action/attitude & feedback elements.

Need ideas? Use the starters above to get you thinking.

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