Apps in the Classroom – PuzzleMaker: WordSearch

Today's feature is a simple little app that lets you easily create custom Word Searches ($2.99). Teachers can throw together a puzzle in under 10 minutes, then print it out for students or upload it to Showbie for paperless distribution.

Although I am sure there are plenty of apps that do this in the store, I like this one because it is cheap and super easy to use. After you load the app, click New Project and it will take you to a randomized grid of letters:

Clicking the options icon in the top right will bring down the options menu with the following features:

  • Publish: Email your puzzle to yourself or anyone else as an image or a PDF.
  • Toggle Highlight: Turning this on lets you see the words you've added to the puzzle already. Turning it off hides them (so you can screen cap the puzzle to copy it to your clipboard easily)
  • Make Grid Bigger/Smaller: This gives you more or less room to work with. Bigger puzzles are better for long words and older students.
  • New Random Letters: In case you accidently spot a letter combo you don't like.
  • Upper/Lower Case: Some younger students need practice with one or the other, so choose which to use.
  • Delete Project: Obviously.

At the bottom, you can click to add more words:

Once you type in the word (watch your spelling!), you then click a spot in the puzzle for the first letter of the word to appear. You then click on an arrow to choose which direction the letters of the word will go. If you click on a word afterwards, you can move it around or delete it from the puzzle entirely:

Once you have added all your words and the puzzle is complete, you hit Publish and can email it as either an image or a PDF. Although I wish you could just send the PDF to another app immediately, it is only a minor inconvenience to have to email it to yourself first. So if you want to add your PDF puzzle to Showbie, email it to yourself, open the email, and from there send the PDF to Showbie (or any other app).

Emailing it to yourself also lets you open the puzzle on a computer hooked up to a printer if you do not have AirPrint set up at your school. You can create and print a puzzle all in under ten minutes.

So how can this app be used by teachers and students? Some ideas:

  1. Create a puzzle for the current vocab list and give it to students for class/homework.
  2. Create some themed puzzles for holidays or for early finishers to work on.
  3. Have students create their own puzzles for holidays or other themes to challenge their friends.
  4. When students are doing outside reading, have them search through the book to find difficult vocabulary words. They can then write down the words and their definitions and then create a puzzle as part of a reading assessment.
  5. Help younger students with letter identification and spelling.

…you get the idea. Overall, an easy app to use and inplement in the classroom for either students or teachers.

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