Thursday, December 2, 2021

How to Maximize Space in Google Slides for Manipulative Drag and Drop Activities

Although Google Slides is great for presentations, there are so many other creative activities it can be used for such as stop-motion animation, Choose Your Own Adventure stories, eBooks, comic strips, and one of my favorite uses … drag-and-drop manipulative activities.

Over the years I have enjoyed creating many of these manipulative activities including:
As awesome as these are, one challenge can be the limited space available in Google Slides for the activity itself. Because these are drag-and-drop activities, you can't switch into presentation mode, but have to stay in edit mode to be able to move things around.

So if a student is working on this by themselves on a small Chromebook screen, or if you are presenting the project through a Google Meet, or if you have it projected onto a board in your classroom for a whole group activity, it would really be helpful to have more space for that actual interaction.

Thankfully you can do this! Google Slides has four built-in settings that can be used to clear away all the extra panels and menus and such and give you and your students all the space you need for your activity. See below for a short tutorial video and written directions on how to adjust each of these four settings.

Tutorial video (6 minutes)

You can also view this video on YouTube at:

Setting #1 - Speaker Notes

The first setting you can adjust is to get rid of the speaker notes panel at the bottom of the screen. There are two ways to do this.
  • First you can click "View" in the top menu bar, and then uncheck the option to "Show speaker notes". This will hide the speaker notes section and give you much more room for your drag-and-drop activity. Of course you can show them again by clicking "View" and then checking "Show speaker notes".
  • The second option to do this is to simply click and drag the speaker notes bar to reduce the size of that section. Again you can always drag the bar back up if needed.

Setting #2 - Filmstrip

The second setting you can adjust to get more space is to hide the filmstrip. The filmstrip is the panel on the left side of the screen that displays the thumbnails for all of the slides in your slideshow. Although this is useful, it also takes up a lot of room. We can remove it in two ways as well.
  • First we can click "View" in the top menu bar, and then uncheck the option for "Show filmstrip". Of course we can show it again by clicking "View" and then checking "Show filmstrip".
  • A second option for doing this is to simply click on the "left arrow" button at the bottom of the filmstrip to hide it, or the "right arrow" button to reveal it again.
Note: When the filmstrip is hidden you can still move between your slides by pressing the up and down arrow keys on your keyboard, or using the scroll wheel on your mouse.

Setting #3 - Menus

The third setting to get more space is to hide the menus at the top of the screen. 
  • You can do this by clicking the "up arrow" in the top right corner to make the menus go away, giving us even more room to work with now. If you end up needing to access the menu again, you can just click on the "down arrow" in the top right corner to show the menus again.
  • By the way, if you prefer keyboard shortcuts you can toggle the menus on and off by pressing Ctrl-Shift-F on a PC or Chromebook, or Command-Shift-F on a Mac.

Setting #4 - Full screen

At this point we have removed pretty much everything except for the toolbar. For the final setting we have an option that will get rid of the menus and the toolbar.
  • To do this you click on the "View" menu, and then click "Full screen". This will now remove the menus and the toolbar so the slide will fill up all of the remaining available space.
  • To exit from full screen mode, simply press the "Esc" key on your keyboard.


So by using all of these settings, removing the speaker notes, hiding the filmstrip, and going into full screen mode, you can maximize the space we have for you or your students to do the drag-and-drop manipulative activities. 

This can make it much easier to see all of the details and to click and drag items as needed. Hopefully this helps you get even more use out of these creative projects for Google Slides!

Post by Eric Curts
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