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The Best “I Spy” (Hidden Object) Games For Vocabulary Development


Online “I Spy” games, also known as “Hidden Object” games, are not the most methodical or effective ways for English Language Learners to develop vocabulary, but they sure are fun.  Playing these games  can be a good time-filler if you have a few minutes left at the end of a computer lab session.

Basically, these types of games give you a list of objects to find, and you have to search for them in a crowded area.  Once you find one and click on it, the word typically disappears.

I thought these games might make a good topic for a “The Best…” list.

There are many more of these types of games out there, but I’ve only included ones that I thought might get through school district content filters.  Most of the other games in this genre are on game sites that are probably blocked.

Since they all work in a similar way, I’ll just list them and not describe each one.

Of course, a real-life “I Spy” game in the classroom — where a student is in front of the class, has picked an object in the room, and others have to ask him/her “yes or no” questions about it in order to guess what it is — is an even better game, I think, than playing it online.

Another option is for students to just draw on paper their own “Hidden Object” game where they take certain vocabulary words and create games they exchange with their classmates.

Here are my picks for the The Best “I Spy” (Hidden Object) Games For Vocabulary Development:

Scholastic has several of these kinds of games. They’re particularly good because they provide audio support for the text:

I Spy The Wizard’s Lab

I Spy The Library

I Spy The View From The Duck Pond Inn

I Spy Toy Store Window

I Spy City

Scholastic also has a number of similar games called “Can You See What I See?”:

Can You See What I See? Dream Machine

Can You See What I See? Cool Collections

Can You See What I See? Once Upon A Time

Can You See What I See? Don’t Blink

Finally, Scholastic also has faster-paced versions called I Spy Bingo

Herod’s Lost Tomb is from National Geographic

Highlights Magazine has  nearly one hundred similar online and interactive Hidden Picture Games.

NASA has developed a Buzz Lightyear site to help teach math and science.  “Mission 3” is an I Spy Game, though I can’t link directly to it.

Mystery Case Files: Huntsville

Mystery Case Files: Prime Suspects

Hide & Secret

Hidden Expedition: Titanic

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has what best can be described as an I Spy Game with artwork. You’re provided several pieces of art, and lists of objects to find within each one of them.

One of the original “I spy: A book of picture riddles” books is now available online for free at the Children’s Library. Even though the book isn’t interactive, it could certainly be projected on a whiteboard and students could circle the objects with a marker (of course, if you had a hard copy of it you could do the same on a document camera).

Titanic’s Keys to the Past is a National Geographic “I Spy” game.

Suggestions and feedback, as always, are welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at previous “The Best…” lists and also consider subscribing to this blog for free.

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. Yeah, I think it’s just for getting some entertainment for mind, I like it, thanks.

  2. Never thought about suggesting these for vocabulary development, that is a good idea. I think there are a lot more educational uses for games but it takes some creativity like this to identify it.

  3. Hidden object games or I Spy’s or whatever are still in a hot trend. People love them, they have a plot and they have a challenge. Good alternative to sitcoms and other tv stuff.

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