Battleships: A PowerPoint adaptation

The other day I was reading this post by Svetlana Kandybovich. The post was a list of the 10 most popular games from ELT-CATION, and one of the games on that list was Battleships.

I was looking at the game and thinking that not only had it been awhile since I last made a PowerPoint game, but Battleships would be relatively easy to make in PowerPoint.

So, I turned on my computer and started designing.

This is what I produced:


A single slide with letters on the vertical axis, numbers on the horizontal axis and the interior of slide is able to contain 35 words. The words don’t have to be unique vocabulary items; the board can contain duplicates.

Beneath the words are hidden ships that your students have to locate.

Take a look at this tutorial video to see how to use the template. The board used in the video already contains a selection of verbs.

The video run-time is 3 minutes and 29 seconds.

Click on battleships to download the template.

Note: This template was designed in Microsoft® PowerPoint® 2016. The animations and sound effects may be different in Keynote or other presentation software.

Add your words


  • The board contains 35 squares.
  • Click on one of the squares and type in your own words.
  • Each square is set to shrink text on overfill. This means the more you write, the text will reduce its size automatically to fit within the borders of the shape.
  • This board can be used to practice almost any target language.

Position your ships

  • Go to the home ribbon
  • Click on select and choose the selection pane.
  • Scroll down to the bottom of list and select all the different ships.
  • Press and hold CTRL as you select the different ships. This will help you select multiple objects.
  • Left-click on your selected objects and drag them to the top of the list in the selection pane.
  • The ships will appear on top of the board.battleship_the-pieces
  • Click anywhere in the work space to deselect the ships.
  • Select one of the ships by left-clicking on it.
  • Left-click and hold to move your selected ship to a new area of the board.
  • Left-click and hold on the rotation icon while moving the mouse to rotate the ship to a new alignment.
  • Once you have positioned all your ships, return to the selection pane.
  • Press and hold CTRL as you select all the different ships.
  • Left-click on your selected objects and drag them to the bottom of the list in the selection pane.
  • Make sure that the ships are above the ‘backboard’ otherwise they won’t be visible when you click on the squares.

Playing the game



Unlike traditional Battleships, which is played between two players who cannot see their opponents board. A slightly different format has to be used when you play the PowerPoint adaptation because only one version of the board is being projected onto the screen or display area.

  • Play the game as the class versus the teacher.
  • Play the game as teams/groups versus the teacher.

A student chooses a letter and number combination, for example A3.

In square A3, the verb is TRY. In order to reveal that square, the student can do any number of things.

  • Correctly conjugate the verb, use a specific verb tense
  • Use the verb in a sentence
  • Correctly pronounce the word, for example sheep vs. ship
  • Define the word
  • Say a synonym (similar word) or antonym (opposite word)

For our example, let’s say we have asked the students to use the verb in a sentence. Once they have offered an example sentence, the square is revealed and the students find out if they have hit or missed one of the ships.

If they have hit a ship, they get one point. There are a total of 13 possible points.

(This is especially useful if students are working in teams, as teams will not feel cheated out of points if they found the first square of a ship but did not sink it.)

You could also offer bonus points for sinking the ship as well.

The PowerPoint adaptation is a great way to model the activity before transferring the activity to the students.

Playing on paper


This battleships template is a Word® document, which you can edit and add your vocabulary items. Long words will shrink to fit within the grid squares.

Unlike traditional Battleships, which uses a 10×10 grid square, I have continued to use a 7×4 grid square. This, in my opinion, limits the vocabulary to a manageable amount that can be elicited from the students or prepared by the teacher.

However, ELT-CATION had prepared some larger irregular verb grids that can be printed out and played with hardly any preparation.

The students play the game in a very similar way to the PowerPoint® version.

Ask the students to circle their ships. Vertical and horizontal position are fine, but students shouldn’t draw their ships diagonally.

1 Battleship = 4 squares

1 Cruiser = 3 squares

2 Destroyers = 2 squares (for each)

2 Submarines = 2 squares (for each)

You can also delete the words if you want to give the handouts to your students as a blank template that they fill out with their own words.

So, this has been my contribution to playing Battleships in the classroom.

Please leave a comment if you have any further questions about these Battleships templates.

Alternatively, you can send me a message by visiting the contact page, leaving me a message on my Facebook page or by following me on Twitter.

Thanks for reading and take care!

Thanks to Svetlana Kandybovich whose original post about Battleships inspired this PowerPoint version.

The Battleships templates were created with Microsoft® PowerPoint® 2016 and Word® 2016. If these templates are opened in other office suites or programs, there may be formatting issues.

You may also like to read:

the-real-trick_linkA guest post written by Svetlana Kandybovich from ELT-CATION, which discusses other activities to turn assessment and test preparation into fun classroom activities.

The Football Game - Featured Image

The Football Game was a collaboration between ELT-CATION and tekhnologic. Two teams (individuals or groups) answer questions to move the ball with the aim of scoring a goal before their opponent. The team who has scored the most goals wins.

5 thoughts on “Battleships: A PowerPoint adaptation

  1. Reblogged this on ELT-CATION and commented:
    On Wednesday, I presented the project I’m currently leading at the British Council Teaching for Success Online Conference. [Take a look at the British Council Teaching English conference page where you can find fantastic talks by speakers from around the world and panel discussions taking place between Wednesday 5 October and Sunday 9 October 2016].

    – What is the best way to develop professionally?
    – Get connected and collaborate with other teachers. If we help each other, and share our ideas and great things we do in our classrooms, we can all make great gains.

    This post by Tekhnologic is an excellent example of the value added of sharing knowledge and ideas with other teachers. Some time ago, I shared Battleship for irregular verbs and here’s how Tekhnologic improved it and made it even better by adding a tech version to it.

    Liked by 1 person

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