It’s no secret I’m a Google girl. I use my Google Home devices to help me stay organized and do things quickly and easily.
For the past few months, I’ve been looking into educational uses for Google Home. Google continues to add more and more capabilities to the list of what Google Home can do. So, in the future there will continue to be additional ways you can squeeze some fun educational moments in with your kids using the Google Home family of products.
If you aren’t familiar with Google Home, it’s simply a smart home speaker. Using smart commands you can set timers, listen to music, make phone calls, play games, listen to stories, and more!
I’ve talked to a few people who have been a bit disappointed at the little they have been able to do with their smart home devices. This makes them question the educational value smart home devices will have for their kids. In almost every case, however, the issue is that the user simply needed to understand the commands for triggering the action.
I admit I hate reading how-to manuals. I typically get them out and read them when I have tried to put something together and have it so messed up that it’s my absolute only choice. But, not reading the options for Google Home means you not only don’t know what these amazing smart speakers can do, it means you might not know the correct words to trigger the action you want.
I’ve had to swallow my pride here and read to learn all the cool educational things my Google Home can do. Don’t skip that step!
Here are 18 Educational Uses for Google Home
Trigger Command: “OK Google, let’s play Mystery Animal.”
Mystery Animal is a great game to start your morning, fill some time, or bring your kids together with a fun task. Kids get 20 questions to try to guess the mystery animal. It works best to ask simple “yes” or “no” questions. So this is a game kids of multiple ages can play.
Set a Timer
Trigger Command: “OK Google, set a timer for [time].”
This seems like such a simple feature. But, it’s one I use all the time. Using a timer is a great way to keep tabs on your activities. You can set a timer for virtually anything. Have a child who drags as you’re trying to get out the door in the morning? Set a Google timer to remind them of what needs to be done and when. Best of all, you can set up multiple timers. I often have more than one going for just myself.
Flip a Coin
Trigger Command: “OK Google, flip a coin.”
Heads or tails? In our house you might be hard pressed to find a coin to flip. We either have a jar full of coins or we have none. With Google Home, you really never have to worry. Your kids will never complain that someone cheated on the coin toss. And, they’ll think it’s pretty cool.
Roll the Dice
Trigger Command: “OK Google, roll the dice,” or “OK Google, roll X dice for me.”
I always loved when we were able to sneak in educational games on family game night. Yahtzee was always one of our favorites. But what happens when you lose the dice? Google Home rolls it for you. You can tell Google to roll the dice. Or tell it the number of dice you need rolled, like six dice for Yahtzee. Google will roll the dice and tell you the number rolled for each dice.
Get the Current Temperature
Trigger Command: “OK Google, what’s the current temperature?” or “OK Google, what’s the weather today in [name town]?”
Create your own weather station and start each day with current temperature and weather stats for the day. Kids can learn about dressing for the day, and also learn about planning for the day. For instance, if a hike was planned for the afternoon but the weather forecast says there’s a 90% chance of thunderstorms, is it possible to adjust plans for the day?
Set Voice Reminders for Tasks
Trigger Command: “OK Google, remind me to [insert your reminder].”
Does your child have a science project due in two weeks? Or a book report due in three weeks? These larger tasks can be broken down into smaller tasks. Teach your child how to do this and then help them create deadline reminders so they don’t have a last-minute stressful rush.
Listen to Music
Trigger Command: “OK Google, play some music,” or “OK Google, play some [genre] music.”
If you just stop at those two trigger commands, you’ll be incredibly frustrated. And, you’ll miss out on many wonderful educational uses for Google Home because there are so many ways to incorporate music into subjects like history and literature. So get specific when you are asking your Google Home devices to play music.
Here are some more trigger commands that will help Google retrieve the music you really want.
Music to help kids focus or ambient noise
Trigger Command: “OK Google, help me relax,” or “OK Google, play white noise,” or “OK Google, play forest sounds.”
Music by artist or song
Trigger Command: “OK Google, play [artist]” or “Play [song].”
Music by just a few lyrics you know
“OK Google, play the song that goes, [insert the lyrics you know].”
But you really want kids to learn, right? That music-loving kid can stop and rewind a song to listen to a part that piques their curiosity.
Trigger Command: “OK Google, skip backward 30 seconds.”
Or, they can get more information about an album, artist, or song.
Trigger Command: “OK Google, when did this album come out?” or “OK Google, tell me about [insert artist name],” or “OK Google, tell me about [song by artist].”
I should note, in addition to Google Play Music, you can connect a variety of music services to your Google Home account including Spotify, YouTube Music, and Pandora.
And, did you know kids can have the Google smart speaker sing to them? This feature is fun for young kids to explore nursery rhymes and other common preschool songs.
Trigger Command: “OK Google, sing ABC,” or “OK Google, sing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”
Mix Instruments To Create Music
Using MixLab, kids can create music using simple voice commands.
Trigger Command: “OK Google, open MixLab.”
Next, give simple instructions for what you’d like to add to your sound track. For instance:
“OK, Google, give me a funky drum beat.” Then, keep laying on instruments and beats to get the sound you want.
Here’s an explanation of how it works:
Listen To Sounds
Kids are inquisitive. I remember reading The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White when my kids were younger. They loved the book. But they immediately wanted to hear a trumpeter swan. Oh, if only Google Home had been around during those years!
Trigger Command: “OK Google, what sound does a [insert animal or object name] make?”
Ask Google a Question
What’s the biggest mammal? What year did WWI end? What does 104,435 x 6932 equal? Do fish pee? Kids have lots of questions. But, you don’t always have the answers to their questions. Let them take charge of their learning by teaching them to ask Google. You do want to have a discussion with your kids about topics they can and can’t direct to your Google Home devices.
Trigger Command: “OK Google, [ask your question]?”
Get Translations for Virtually Any Language
Using Google translation might not teach you a language, but it’s a great study tool. It’s also a fun learning tool for kids who might be interested in how to say “hello” in Norwegian.
Trigger Command: “OK Google, how do you say [word] in [language]?”
Get the Spelling, Definition, and Pronunciation of Words
It’s never been easier to get the spellings, definitions, and pronunciations of words. And, it takes seconds.
Trigger Command: “OK Google, spell [word],” or “OK Google, give me the definition of [word],” or “OK Google, how do you pronounce [word]?”
Get Book Suggestions
Google can suggest books for age range, topic, author, subject, and more! Does your reluctant reader have a new favorite book series or author? It’s easy to find more books to keep them reading. Does your teen have a research project? They can begin their search by doing a search for books on their topic.
Trigger Command: “OK Google, find books on [topic, series, or author].”
Reading, Google Style
I remember one particular teacher in elementary school. She read to us daily. As she read she included sound effects and voices for characters. To this day, those short 15-20 minutes of storytime at the end of class are some of my favorite childhood memories.
Storytime with Google Home is my childhood memory updated. As you read books with your child, Google Home will play relevant sound effects and music to bring the story to life. Right now there is a limited selection of titles, but more are being added. Keep in mind you can use printed books for this. This means kids don’t need to look at a digital device immediately before bedtime. And, you may already own some of those Golden Books from Disney.
To get started, make sure you are within six feet of your Google Home speaker. Say the trigger command to begin and you’ll hear music to get you started.
Trigger Command: “OK Google, read along with [insert name of book].”
To exit story mode, simply say “Hey Google, stop.”
You can try out Storytime with a free copy of Ara the Star Engineer.
But, that’s not all! Google will also read a poem for you and tell you a story.
Trigger Command: “OK Google, read a poem,” or “OK Google, tell me a story.”
You can even specify the type of story by saying, “OK Google, tell me a fairy tale.”
Get Author Information
Sometimes when reading a book or listening to an audiobook, it’s helpful to get information on the author. Maybe you don’t know who the author is and you’d like to find out so you can see if they have written other books. Or, maybe you’d just like to know a bit about the author. Getting this information is literally as easy as asking a question aloud.
Trigger Command: “OK Google, who wrote [book title]?” or “OK Google, tell me about [author’s name].”
Listen to audiobooks and podcasts
The Google Play Store has an amazing selection of audiobooks and podcasts. Google took a different approach with audiobooks. Instead of offering them as a subscription based model, audiobooks are purchased individually in the Google Play Store. The list of podcasts isn’t as extensive as Stitcher or Apple, but it’s growing.
Trigger Command: “OK Google, read my [title of book],” or “OK Google, listen to [insert the name of] podcast.”
Create your own interactive story that plays on Google Home
With Story Speaker, kids can create stories that come to life. Kids can write a story using Google Docs, then create a talking, interactive story which can be played on any Google Home device. Story Speaker is an AddOn in Google Docs. You’ll first open Google Docs and get the Addon. Then open the Story Speaker Addon in Google Docs.
Trigger Command: “OK Google, ask Story Speaker to play [insert name of your story in Story Speaker].”
Never worry about running out of MadLibs again. Simply cue it up on your Google Home device. It’s a great way for kids to cement those parts of speech. And, they’ll simply enjoy listening to the silly stories their answers create.
Lucky Trivia has a great range of questions and is fun for preteens to adults. Best of all, any number of people can play.
Trigger Command: “OK Google, play MadLibs,” or “OK Google, play Lucky Trivia.”
Share Educational videos and photos to your television using Chromecast
Chromecast is perfect for sharing content on a larger screen. Using Chromecast, you can fast forward, pause, rewind, and more. I’ve found this feature hands down one of the best educational uses for Google Home. It gives kids the ability to watch and try with videos. It’s particularly helpful for kids who are using videos to learn video editing skills, photo editing skills, science experiments, and math help videos,
Trigger Command: “OK Google, play [name of video] on the [Chromecast name].”
Google continues to roll out new features. As they do, I’m certain we’ll find more educational uses for Google Home devices.
Are you using Google Home in your classroom or homeschool? If so, share some of the fun educational uses for Google Home that you’ve found with us in the comments section below.