Teacher Tech blog with Alice Keeler

Paperless Is Not a Pedagogy

Alice Keeler

How to Make a Word Search

For fun! Word Searches can be a fun thing for students to do on a rainy recess or after they have finished their work. Here is how to MAKE a word search.
How to Make a Word Search

I am pro fun. School should have some things that are fun. Many students like word searches, they can be a fun thing to do after you’ve finished your work or during a rainy recess. There are many word search generators. Flippity will allow you to use a custom list. Discovery Education lets you design a custom sized word search.

Created by Alice Keeler

How to make a word search? There are many online Word Search creators, but here is one I made myself! It is of course in Google Sheets, who doesn’t want that? It also will copy and paste it into a Google Doc pretty easily. None of my Add-ons collect user data or collect PII. THIS SAVES TO YOUR GOOGLE DRIVE! Which is very convenient.

Create Your Own List

After making a copy of the template, replace the list of words in column B. You will notice it will automatically space out each letter.

Word Search list in Google Sheets by Alice Keeler has a default list of words

Make Word Search Menu

It takes a minute for the code to load, but you should see the menu “Make Word Search” next to the help menu.

Make Word Search menu in Google Sheets

Authorize the Add-on

Before you will be able to create the puzzle you will need to authorize the Add-on. Since you made a copy of the template, you are the developer and will need to authorize yourself access to your own Google Drive. As always, none of my Add-ons collect user data or PII. It is completely safe. Do NOT click on “Back to Safety.” Instead click on “Advanced.” This will remind you that you have not submitted this Add-on to Google. Click on “Unsafe” (It is safe, this is simply legalease by Google to make sure you know they did not review the code.)

Authorize the add-on screen. It is not verified by Google but it is safe. You are authorizing yourself. Do not click on Back to Safety but instead click on Advanced.

Create Puzzle

Choosing “Create puzzle” from the menu will start the process. It will randomly place the words both horizontally and vertically on the spreadsheet.


Since the words are randomly placed, they will sometimes be placed in spots that overlap other words. The Add-on attempts to recognize when this happens and makes a list of words that were not properly placed. On the Answer Key tab, you will notice a list of words that were not placed properly.

Manually Fix Errors

For any of the errors listed in column AA, you will want to copy and paste the words onto the puzzle or manually enter the words onto the puzzle. This is a good opportunity to look for places to have the words cross at a common letter. You can also add them backwards or diagonally (manually) if you wish to make the puzzle more challenging.

Test for Errors

Using the menu option “Test for Errors” helps, but is not perfect. Do not rely on this. I just ran it and it said 3 words were not represented but when I checked they were.

Update Puzzle

Use the menu option “Update puzzle” to send the updated changes from the Answer Key to the Puzzle.

Updated puzzle on the puzzle tab after update puzzle was selected from the menu

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If you are happy with the puzzle choose “Print Puzzle” from the menu.

Choose Print Puzzle from the Make Word Search Menu

This will reveal a tab with the puzzle and the list of words. You will still need to use Control P to print the puzzle in portrait view.

Copy Puzzle to New Spreadsheet

You obviously can not share this spreadsheet with students, it has the answer key. If you want to share the puzzle digitally through Google Sheets choose the option “Copy Puzzle to New Spreadsheet.”

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