Creating Puzzles: A Guide for Teachers
Crossword puzzles can be used in the classroom to support, extend, and enrich your literacy-based instructional goals. They help students develop word analysis and critical thinking skills and improve vocabulary and comprehension. The puzzles also provide opportunities for students to evaluate, analyze, synthesize, and summarize information and experiment with language.
For more information about using ReadWriteThink's Crossword Puzzles tool, including lesson plans that incorporate it, see the Crossword Puzzles Tool Card. You might also want to visit Tips for Using Crossword Puzzles With Children and Tips for Using Crossword Puzzles With Teens. These printer-ready handouts are designed for parent and tutor use and can be sent home with your students.
How to Create Puzzles
To create a puzzle, have students enter their names and then select the Create Your Own tab. After titling the puzzle, students click Begin and can start typing their puzzle wordsas few as 3 and as many as 30. Next, they are asked to provide clues for each word. From there, the finished puzzle may be solved online or students can click Print to print the puzzle.
Note: Students cannot save their puzzles online; make sure they print before exiting the tool.
Suggestions for Classroom Use
The best feature of the Crossword Puzzles tool is its versatility as a classroom resource. It can be used in a myriad of ways to support your instructional goals. For example, you can have your students:
- Create puzzles using their weekly or monthly vocabulary words.
- Create puzzles based on a book you have read in class.
- Conduct research on a specific topic and create a puzzle. Have students teach their classmates what they have learned, and then have the students solve each other's puzzles.
- Create a puzzle as part of a K-W-L activity. Students can create a puzzle based on what they already know about a topic. After the lesson or unit, they can create a new puzzle based on what they have learned.
- Create puzzles based on influential and historical figures you are studying.
The Crossword Puzzles tool uses Flash Player 8. You can download the latest version for free here.
- Puzzles will not necessarily use all of the entered words; the tool indicates how many words were left out in the right corner underneath the puzzle. The more words entered, the more likely all words will be included. Words must contain 3 to 15 letters.
- Clues can contain as many as 60 characters and can include commas, periods, brackets, slashes, hyphens, and any characters on the number line of the keyboard.
- To change or delete a word after it has been added to the word list, click on the word in the word list. Two buttons appear at the top of the word list box: Remove and Edit. Clicking Remove deletes the word. Clicking Edit allows you to make changes to the word.
- Change the scale of the puzzle by clicking on the + and buttons on the screen.
- You can grab the puzzle and move it around on the screen. The Center button moves the puzzle back to the middle.
- The puzzle can be solved online after it is created. When filling out a puzzle online, clicking the Check Puzzle button on the top left will indicate which letters are correct and which are not.
- You can print your puzzle by clicking Print. Options include printing the puzzle with any filled-in answers, printing a blank puzzle, and printing an answer key.