DIY Guess The Word PowerPoint Game

A few weeks ago I did a post about using animation triggers in PowerPoint to create games for your students. One of those games my students have fallen in love with is Guess The Word.

The gameplay is similar to the classic game Hangman but without the potentially triggering elements. Check out this video to see one version of it in action:

I have three different types of clue slides for the game: picture only (shown in the picture), picture and text (shown in the video), and text only (shown later in the post). I generally use this game to practice vocabulary, hence the name Guess the Word. I like that students who are still struggling with spelling certain vocabulary words are supported by the fact they can do their best to sound words out and guess at the correct letters, receiving instant feedback about whether or not they were correct. Students who are completely unsure of the vocabulary word are also not left out as they can guess random letters until they get enough correct to jog their memory as to the target term.

One reminder from my post about using animation triggers, they are not supported in Google Slides. Therefore, these games need to be created and played in PowerPoint. It is possible to

convert the files to Google Slides but the animation triggers will be lost and the games will not work correctly. Before I get to the directions, I will let you in on a secret. If you find the directions a bit overwhelming, don’t give up–at the end, there is a free template you can download that allows you to skip steps 1-11 and parts of step 19.

Steps for Creating a Guess the Word Game:

  1. Open a new PowerPoint document.
  2. Set up your game slide template.
    a. Click on View.
    b. Click on Slide Master.
    c. Click on the blank slide and copy/paste it.
    d. Delete the date, footer, and # sections from the bottom.
    e. Draw a line to separate the alphabet bank from the rest of the slide.
    f. Label your alphabet bank by using a textbox or word art, whichever you prefer.
    g. In the playing area, insert a placeholder (under the slide master tab) for the text (definition or another clue) you will place on each slide; if you wish to include an image on each slide, you can also insert an image placeholder.
    i. On the Home tab, set the font size, color, and other attributes you want for your text box
    h. On the Slide Master tab, click close master view
  3. Design and make your intro slide(s) with the title, directions, and any other “extras” you’d like to have.
  4. From either the Home or Insert tab, click the down carrot (v) for New Slide.
  5. Choose the game slide template you just designed.
  6. In the Alphabet Bank area, draw a rectangle.
    a. Click insert
    b. Click shapes
    c. Click on the rectangle
    d. Click in the alphabet bank and drag your mouse to make the rectangle.
    i. Adjust the color and outline in the shape format tab
    e. Double click inside the rectangle and type a capital A
    f. Highlight the A and adjust the font, size, color, etc. from the Home tab
  7. Click on the A box and copy it by pushing ctrl + c
  8. Paste it by pushing ctrl + v
  9. Drag and drop the new rectangle to your desired location within the alphabet bank. Double-click on A and type B.
  10. Repeat steps 7-9 until you have a rectangle with every letter of the alphabet
  11. To cause letters in the bank to disappear, follow these steps:
    a. Click on the rectangle for a letter to select it
    b. On the Animations tab, click add animation
    c. Click disappear
    d. Click trigger
    e. Click On Click Of
    f. Click on the name of that particular rectangle
  12. At this point you have two choices: you can copy and paste the entire slide or you can copy and paste the letters.
    a. To copy and paste the entire slide & create new word slides:
    i. Click on the slide in the slide sorter area (the list of slides to the left of the screen)
    ii. Copy the slide by pushing ctrl + c
    iii. Paste the slide by pushing ctrl + v. Do this as many times as necessary to have a game slide for every word in your game.
    b. To copy and paste the letters onto each new word slide:
    i. Insert a new slide via either the home or insert tab
    ii. Click on New Slide
    iii. Click on the Layout you created
    iv. In the slide sorter area (left side of the screen) click on the slide you made with all of the letters
    v. Select all 26 letter rectangles
    vi. Copy by pushing ctrl+c
    vii. Click on the slide you just created
    viii. Click ctrl+v to paste—this should bring in all of the letters and keep the animation in place; you can check by opening the animation pane (under the Animations Tab) and seeing if the animations are listed or not
  13. Return to the first playing slide of your game and type your definition or clue into the box. If you are including images, insert your image into the placeholder.
  14. In the blank area above or below your clue, draw lines. You will need one line for each letter in the word.
    a. On the insert tab click shape
    b. Click on the line
    c. Draw a line on your slide
    d. Adjust the color and weight on the shape format tab
    e. Copy and paste the line so you have one for every letter in the word
    f. Generally align your lines in a single row
    g. Select all of your lines and then click on Shape Format
    h. Click on align
    i. Click on Align Middle
    j. Click on Align
    k. Click on Distribute Horizontally
  15. Over the first line, draw a rectangle.
    a. Click insert
    b. Click shapes
    c. Click on the rectangle
    d. Click above the first line and drag your mouse to make the rectangle.
    i. Adjust the color and outline in the shape format tab
    e. Double-click inside the rectangle and type the first letter of your word
    f. Highlight the letter and adjust the font, size, color, etc. from the Home tab
  16. Copy (ctrl+c) and paste (ctrl+v) the letter rectangle enough times to have one rectangle per letter in your word.
  17. Drag and drop the letter rectangles so they are above the appropriate lines for your word
  18. Double-click on the letter in each rectangle and change it so your word is spelled out above the lines
  19. To add the animation for each letter, repeat these steps for each letter. If it is the same letter, you may click on the first, hold down the shift, and click on the following instances.
    a. Click on the first letter in your word
    b. Click on the Animations Tab.
    c. If you haven’t yet, click on the Animation pane.
    d. Click on Add Animation.
    e. Choose Appear.
    f. Click Trigger
    g. Click On Click Of
    h. Click on the appropriate rectangle for the corresponding letter in the alphabet bank. I made a list to help me quickly reference it so I knew that “Rectangle 31” = T. (If you use the template, you’ll also want to download my list.)
    i. You will need to adjust the timing for all letters used in the word. On the Animations tab, click Animation Pane to show the window on the right of your screen.
    j. Find where there is more than one rectangle listed for a single trigger. (LOOK FOR #2+)
    k. For the second, third, and all following rectangles listed under each trigger, adjust the timing
    i. Click on the name of the shape
    ii. Click on the menu triangle at the end of the shape name (upside-down black triangle)
    iii. Click on Start With Previous
  20. Repeat steps 15-21 until you have made a slide for every word in your game.

Optional Steps:

If you are concerned that students will simply click through the slides without looking at anything, there is a way to prevent that.

  1. Draw a rectangle that covers the entire slide.
    a. Click insert
    b. Click shapes
    c. Click on the rectangle shape
    d. Click in the corner of your slide and drag so the new rectangle covers the entire slide
  2. Change the rectangle to make it clear
    a. With the rectangle selected (click on it) click on the Shape Format tab
    b. Change the shape fill to clear
    c. Change the shape outline to clear
  3. Hyperlink the rectangle to its current slide
    a. Right-click on the rectangle
    b. Click on Hyperlink
    c. Click Place in this document
    d. Click the slide you are working on (if you drew the rectangle on slide 4, choose slide 4)
    e. Click OK
  4. Send the rectangle to the back.
    a. Right-click on the rectangle
    b. Click Send to Back
  5. You will need to provide a button for students to be able to move to the next slide
    a. Click on insert
    b. Click shapes
    c. Choose a shape
    d. Draw your shape in the bottom right corner of the alphabet bank
    e. Label your shape “Next Word”
  6. After putting your image, words, and answer letters/lines in place, you will need to go back and place them behind your clear rectangle.
    a. Highlight everything in the clue/answer section of the slide—do NOT include the buttons in the Alphabet Bank.
    b. Right-click on one of the highlighted objects.
    c. Click Send To Back.
    d. Repeat for every slide.
    Alternatively, you could put a clear rectangle over the Alphabet Bank, hyperlink it to the same slide, and send it to the back. Then place a clear rectangle over the clue/answer section, hyperlink it to the same slide, and bring it to the front.
    It is possible to do these steps on the first slide you create (after step number 11 in the directions above), but you will need to update the hyperlink for each whole slide rectangle (step 3 of the optional directions) or all of the slides will be hyperlinked to the same slide. You may also want to confirm that the whole slide rectangle is still in the back of each slide (step #4 of the optional directions) on each subsequent slide, just to be sure all of the various buttons are working correctly.

Using the Template:

Using the template allows you to avoid steps 1-11 of the main directions. The master slides (located under New Slide) are titled Text Clue (slide 4), Image Clue (slide 5), or Text and Image Clue (slide 6). Choose the appropriate master slide for your game.
Since I’ve already added the answer lines and letters for you on the existing slides (slides 4-6), I highly recommend that you simply copy and paste the appropriate slide for your game enough times to create all of the terms you need. All of the letters (X) already have the animation added (step 19 d-e) as well. You can check that you’ve completed the trigger for each letter (the rest of step 19) by looking at the animation box in the upper left of each answer letter. The box will have a lightning bolt in it, as opposed to a number. You can also check the top of the animations pane to be sure no green triangles remain without being under a trigger.
The optional steps have also been done for the three slides included (slides 4-6), but you’ll need to repeat them in their entirety if you add new slides. If you choose to copy and paste any of included slides (slides 4-6), you will still need to repeat optional step 3 and 4.


That was a lot! When I first started making Guess the Word games, it took me most of the day to make a single game with about 12 terms. Now that I’ve had some practice (and refined the template), I can do a regular-length game (12-15 terms) in an hour or so. Like with most things in life, it gets easier and faster with practice. Here’s another demonstration video to get your creative juices flowing:

If you’re thinking, “I don’t have time to do all of that! Can’t I just download premade games?” The answer is yes! I have several made and ready for you to use in my TPT (Teachers Pay Teachers) store. I’ll add the links to them, as well as the template downloads, below. Happy teaching, everyone!

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