Encourage children to do more writing - and use their brains - by making their own word puzzles! Shelly's latest guest blog talks us through how she tackled it...
I was recently having a bit of a brainstorm about fun ways I could get my son to do more writing. I suddenly thought - what if we tried to make our own word puzzles? He enjoys puzzles so I hoped it might be something that he would find interesting.
I started by downloading and printing off some grid paper (I used these 1cm grids). My idea was that by using the grid paper it would help him keep his letters straight and evently spaced.
The first word puzzle that we attempted was a word search. I asked him to think of a topic: he chose Marvel – he loves the movies. Then he had to select eight words and write the eight words in the grid. It started off really well, but with our first attempt I did not think to limit the page and he ended up using the whole A4 page for his words.
A Marvel word search in progress...
That meant that he had to then write in random letters in all the empty squares, and it ended up being a bit too much.
Filling in the background letters on his massive Marvel word search puzzle!
For future word searches we drew a square on the grid paper to limit the size, and only used the blocks inside the square.
A second attempt at the Marvel word search, with a smaller grid
The finished home made Marvel word search puzzle
After our word search I suggested he try and create a crossword. This is when he really got into it!
He started by setting out his words. We went with words from the book Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo, because we had just finished reading it. With all of these word puzzles, you start by setting out the answer page first and then build it up from there.
Setting out the words for his home-made Private Peaceful crossword
Once the words were arranged, he moved on to thinking of clues for each of the words. I really liked this phase of the activity. He was writing, practising his spelling and having to think a bit about the characters and events of the book that we had just read. Win, win, win! While I was watching him work out his clues I did wonder why we have never tried this before. It really is such a brilliant learning activity!
Now creating clues for his home-made Private Peaceful crossword
Our final step was drawing the blocks for the words to go into. For this we “cheated” a bit. We stuck our answer page up on a window, stuck another grid page on top and then just traced over the blocks where the letters were.
His completed crossword and clues!
I was thrilled with the way that the activity turned out and my son really enjoyed making his crosswords so a few days later we tried it all again. This time his older sister also joined in and created one of her own.
Creating a Secret Garden crossword too!
Oh, and don’t forget! Once you have created your crosswords or word searches, you need to pass them onto a sibling or parent to see if they can work it out!
Thanks to Shelly and her kids for this clever idea. Hopefully it will inspire you to try making word searches and crosswords with your own kids!
Shelly is a home educating parent of two children aged 10 and 12. She blogs at ofamily learning together where she shares ideas on the different learning activities that they do including lots of hand-on maths, arts and crafts and anything else that is part of their home educating lifestyle.