The QiRanger Adventures

The Word Search as an Educational Tool

with 15 comments

Wordsearch by incurable_hippie (flickr)

Since I was in elementary school, I’ve always loved doing word searches in class. I can fondly remember getting hand-outs from Mrs. White and spending up to 30 minutes trying to find all the words to win a small prize. In fact, I even purchased books of puzzles to complete while on vacations.

It’s this love of the word search puzzle that I want to talk about today.

Rather than using the puzzle as a time-filler in class, I use it as an educational game in three different ways.

1) I divide the class into two teams. Giving the students only 5 minutes, I ask the students to find as many words as possible in that time frame. Each word is worth 10 points. Students work in groups and must share their answers, as I will only call on one member of the team for the point-count. If they don’t have all the words, then the team loses out on points. I use this technique to foster team play. I usually will also select secret bonus words, that if found, will earn the team an extra 20 points per word.

2) If there are relatively few words in the puzzle, I’ll have the teams find all the words. The first team done gets the points. The difference is that teams may ask me to assist them in finding the words. The catch is that the students must identify which word they want me to find, tell me what it means, and use it in a sentence. While I’m helping one team, the other can’t use me and no team can use me more than twice during the contest.

3) In smaller classes, I’ll have the students find as many words as possible in 5 minutes. Then depending on the number of words that the student(s) found, I’ll have them make a sentence with the remaining words.

It changes things up in class and brings the puzzle into the educational realm, rather than it being a game so the teacher can do other things.

What are your thoughts on using word searches in class?


Written by Steve Miller

April 30, 2010 at 4:00 am

15 Responses

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  1. Great idea! I love using word searches too and the kids can’t get enough of it. Though they don’t seem to like word searches in different shapes other than square. πŸ˜‰


    April 30, 2010 at 8:39 am

    • You are so right! The STAR is unusually fun, as is the circle!


      April 30, 2010 at 8:40 am

  2. I agree that it is a great idea.. makes kids into strong spellers… they are able to find the words much quicker and improves their vocabulary too!


    April 30, 2010 at 10:58 am

    • I suck so much at these things. It takes me ages to find words. I have kids that are just wizzes at them!


      April 30, 2010 at 11:10 am

  3. I think it’s an awesome idea! It makes learning much more fun than cramming words in an old book!

    I remember doing these in English class, and it was a lot of fun πŸ˜€


    April 30, 2010 at 3:16 pm

  4. i like this blog


    April 30, 2010 at 9:44 pm

  5. I like to use them as a supplement and also to review vocabulary.


    May 1, 2010 at 8:22 am

    • Exactly. I usually will play a vocabulary game with those words as well.


      May 1, 2010 at 8:36 am

  6. I use word searches as a reward for students who finish their phonics lessons early. I find it really reinforces the words that they’ve learned in the day’s lesson!

    I’m always amazed at how well the kindergartners are able to do a word search!


    May 1, 2010 at 11:49 pm

  7. very creative site & really interesting posts thx 4 sharing keep up the good work waiting for what’s new


    May 20, 2010 at 8:00 am

  8. I used word searches once in a while, especially for lower-level middle school students. What I would often do is hand out the jumbled letters but cut off the bottom with the listed words. I’d read out the words—always from a unit we’d been doing—and they’d have to write them down (or, for very low levels, they’d write it in Korean and look up the English spelling in the book).


    June 16, 2010 at 7:25 pm

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