Using Triggers in PowerPoint

As you know by now, my students and I love playing games in class. They’re a great way to practice different skills, and engaging in a game helps to take some of the pressure off, meaning students tend to speak more naturally and fluently. Sometimes I get tired of dragging various games back and forth to school, so when I can utilize a digital game, that’s even better.

I saw a PowerPoint template for a Family Feud-style game almost a year ago that intrigued me. I know all about animations and how to make things appear and disappear, but I thought you had to know the order you wanted something to happen to make it work. This particular template was different, though; it didn’t matter which order you clicked on the various answer covers; they disappeared in your chosen order. I decided to investigate and learned about animation triggers, causing something to move, appear, or disappear based on the clicking (most commonly) of something else on the screen. One thing I must warn you about up front: this feature does not exist in Google Slides, and anything built with this feature that is converted to Google Slides will not work correctly. I appreciate Google Slides as much as the next person, but there are some areas in which it cannot match PowerPoint, and this is one of them.

The Microsoft Support website has several helpful tutorials on the subject, including a video. The short version of how to use triggers is as follows:

  1. Open the Animations Pane by clicking on Animations, Animation Pane.
  2. Click on the object that you want to animate.
  3. Click Add Animation and choose your desired action.
  4. With the animated object selected in the Animation Pane, click Trigger on the Animation Ribbon.
  5. Click “On Click Of”
  6. Click on the name of the shape or object you want to be the trigger (the thing you click to start the animation).
  7. If you like, you can use the drop-down menu (upside-down black triangle) at the end of the object’s name in the Animation Pane to adjust your options (it allows you to choose the timing, animate multiple things with one trigger click, etc.).

That’s basically it; a few quick clicks and you’ve animated your object. I’ll post step-by-step how-tos for making three different games using triggered animations in the coming months. On May 10th, I’ll give the step-by-step for Guess the Word games (check out this video of one example); on June 14th, I’ll provide the step-by-step directions for Class Feud, a Family Feud style game; and on July 12th, I’ll give the step-by-step directions for creating Fortune Hunting games (here’s a video of one version). These future tutorials will provide very detailed instructions for making each game and free templates that already have at least some of the steps completed for you. Today, to let you see a less complicated way triggered animations can be used for learning, I have What Nationality Am I? This game allows students to practice deciding if a picture and definition are for the British or American English word.

Each slide has a word with different meanings, depending on whether the speaker uses British or American English. Also included is a picture and definition. To play, students read the word and definition while looking at the picture. They then click the flag of the country they believe uses the word in the given way. If they are correct, the word correct appears. If they are incorrect, an explanation of what that type of English speaker would mean appears.

For example, in the picture of the example slide, the word is “jumper,” and the definition is “sleeveless dress worn over a blouse or shirt.” This is the American English usage of this term. In British English, a jumper is what Americans would call a sweater. Therefore, if the student clicks on the USA flag, “Correct!” appears. If the student clicks on the British flag, “A sweater” appears. The game includes fifteen different terms and a directions slide so students know how to keep score. It is not a long activity, but it is fun, especially for students curious about the different vocabulary between British and American English. Download it for free below the picture and try it with your students. Oh, and don’t forget to come back on the second Wednesday of each of the next three months for more detailed instructions and free game templates using triggered animations! Happy teaching, everyone.