Teacher Tech blog with Alice Keeler

Paperless Is Not a Pedagogy

Alice Keeler

It’s Summer – Make a Word Search

make a word search
It’s Summer – Make a Word Search

make a word search

Have Some Fun, Make a Word Search

As many of you know I am highly critical of busywork, low critical thinking, low learning activities for students. Word Searches are not learning activities. However, they are fun activities. Save yourself some money from buying a word search puzzle book and make your own! Because coding is more fun than cleaning I spent some time upgrading my word search puzzle maker. (Previous blog post here)

added new features to my puzzle word search



YouTube video


  1. On the Word List tab, delete out the default words in column B. Put your own words in!
  2. Use the “Make Word Search” menu at the top. Choose “Create Puzzle.”
  3. After the puzzle is created, use the “Make Word Search” menu again and choose “Test for Errors.”
  4. Manually place words on the puzzle that didn’t place automatically. This is your opportunity to add words diagonally!
    Tip: Use =TRANSPOSE() to take the horizontal words on the oops list to make them vertical.
  5. Use the “Make Word Search” menu to “View Puzzle.”
  6. Copy and paste the puzzle into a Google Doc.
  7. Choose “Print Puzzle” for a view that includes the word list and use Control P to print. Choose portrait for the paper rotation.
    (You can also use this view to copy and paste into the Google Doc.)
  8. Choose “Copy Puzzle to New Spreadsheet” to create a brand new spreadsheet that only has the puzzle with no answer key or other stuff. This is especially handy when you want to leave it digital in a spreadsheet. Users can use the paint can to identify words.

Remember: This is Just For Fun

I would not recommend using word searches as an assignment. You can, however, make a stack of them with vocab words to have laying around for students to choose to do. They might grab one on the way out the door for fun. The easiest way to suck the fun out of something is to assign it.

Have the Students Make Them

Quick and dirty answer to everything…. have the students do it.

About Me Puzzle

For a first week of school warm up activity, the students can create a word search about themselves and share the puzzle with you and classmates. Print the puzzles and use it as an icebreaker activity. Students move around and swap papers with a partner. Set a timer (Tip, open a new tab in Google Chrome and type in 3 minute timer and press enter) for 3 minutes. Have students get their word search back and find a new partner who gets 3 minutes to find more words on the search.
Ice breaker swap puzzles with a partner

Probably your students Chromebooks or computers are not connected to a printer. If that is the case then you may need to print them out individually for the students. If you used Google Classroom you will find all of the students’ spreadsheets in a folder in Google Drive. Try my Drive20 Chrome extension to open a bunch at once.

Research Your Vocabulary

Another quick and dirty I have for lesson planning is start with students thinking instead of students copying. Instead of presenting a list of vocab words for students to copy down first let them look up vocabulary related to a topic and create a list. Students create a word search out of the list of words they thought should be included. A word search has NONE of the 4 C’s. Upgrade the activity by throwing in at least one C. Have students collaborate with a partner to compare and contrast their lists (DOK 2). After they swap word searches, have them discuss which words they included and why. Which words they thought were the most important and which ones should be removed. Have students submit their reflection to you.

Minerals Word Search Activity

Create a list of vocabulary words related to minerals.
Do research to create your own vocabulary list. What vocabulary do you think is important to include?
Copy your vocabulary list into the word search creator that is linked in this assignment.
Use the menu option “Copy Puzzle to New Spreadsheet.”
SHARE the puzzle in the new spreadsheet with a partner in class. See how your vocab lists compared.
In the Private Comments please describe how your list compared to your partner’s list. What did they think was important that you omitted? And vice versa. Which vocab words do you think are the most important and why?

1 thought on “It’s Summer – Make a Word Search

  1. I made a pokemon word search using the provided instructions. This is a useful tool for my current tutoring class for in between assignments. Thanks Dr. Keeler.

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