Monday, November 13, 2017

Play "Mystery Animal" with Google

"20 Questions" has been a tried and true game for my family to pass the time on long road trips or rainy afternoons. Over the years my kids have asked and answered many questions about a mystery animal, person, place, food, or such.

In addition to being a fun way to pass time, "20 Questions" actually helps build important skills including making good questions, communicating clearly, and critical thinking to narrow down the possibilities.

Now Google has provided a newfangled way to play this age-old game with the launch of their "Mystery Animal" activity. With this game you and your students speak aloud to ask Google questions to try to guess a mystery animal. See below for the details on how to access and play this fun and educational activity.

Playing "Mystery Animal"

You can currently access Google's "Mystery Animal" game in several ways:
  • Go to the website at: and click "Preview it here".
  • Speak to a Google Home unit and say "OK Google, talk to Mystery Animal".
  • Speak to the Google Assistant app on your phone and say "OK Google, talk to Mystery Animal".

Google will now choose a random animal that you need to guess.You can speak aloud to ask a wide range of "Yes" and "No" questions such as:
  • Are you a mammal?
  • Do you have feathers?
  • Do you live underground?
  • Do you eat meat?
  • Do you live in North America?
  • And such…
For each question you ask, Google will answer aloud. Since no typing or reading is needed, this game can work wonderfully with young children as well.

This is a great opportunity for students to work on creating good questions that will help narrow down the animal. You will have 20 "yes" and "No" questions to try to determine what the mystery animal is. If you don't, Google will let you know what the animal was in the end.

Classroom Uses
  • As mentioned before, this "Mystery Animal" game is  a great way to teach questioning skills and critical thinking skills.
  • Additionally this activity can also fit in perfectly in your science class as it covers a large amount of organisms, their characteristics, and biology vocabulary.
  • Beyond that, this can also be a neat way to demonstrate the power of artificial intelligence, since it is Google's machine learning and knowledge graph that is interpreting your questions and coming back with an answer.
  • Finally, students can play the game on their own, or they can work together as a group or the entire class, which gives them a chance to develop social skills, as they learn to work as a group, agree on questions, and communicate clearly.

For more details, see the short video below from Google demonstrating the game:

Post by Eric Curts. Bring me to your school, organization, or conference with over 50 PD sessions to choose from. Connect with me on Twitter at and on Google+ at


  1. Great game. Would really make kids think about asking good questions.

  2. This is an AWESOME resource for building questioning skills. I can't wait to share with my educators.