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Make Vocabulary Fun With an Easy, Free Make-Your-Own Word Search

by Kelly Walsh on December 7, 2016



Word Search and Cross Words add a fun Element of Gamification to Vocabulary or Terminology Assessments

While working to redesign a Digital Literacy course here at The College of Westchester, I found myself wanting a fun way to assess information technology terminology. I am not a fan of quizzes for something like this, for numerous reasons. I prefer an exercise that is active, engaging and stimulates thought in a variety of ways. I wanted to ‘gamify’ the assessment to some extent if I could.

After some thought, I realized that there are a variety of traditional old fashioned ‘puzzles’ that were great for this purpose! I decided on a combination of Word Search, Cross Words, and ‘Matching’ (match the word or phrase to the definition).

I went in search of tools for creating Word Searches and Cross Words Puzzles. I was hoping for a free tool that was easy to use, and was somewhat configurable. Ideally, I also did not want to have to create an account. I found what I was looking for at Discovery Education. They have an excellent set of Puzzle Maker web apps.


Here is the Word Search tool I used to create the Word Search parts of the terminilogy assessment I develped for the course:

An Example: An EdTech Word Search

To add a little more fun to this post, I went ahead and created an ‘edtech’ terminology word search.

Have fun with this Education Technology Word Search. It took me all of 5 minutes to create this using this super easy free tool from Discovery Education!


WORD LIST: Search for these education and technology words in this puzzle:



Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer at The College of Westchester, in White Plains, NY, where he also teaches. In 2009, Walsh founded He frequently delivers presentations and training on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. His eBook, the Flipped Classroom Workshop-in-a-Book is available here. Walsh became the Community Administrator for the Flipped Learning Network in June of 2016. In his "spare time" he also writes, records, and performs original music ... stop by and have a listen!

[Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my own, or those of other writers, and not those of my employer. - K. Walsh]

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Sonia December 18, 2016 at 11:08 pm

As a Spanish teacher I use word searches as a follow up after teaching the vocabulary. Students need to focus on spelling of the words when searching and later they need to write definitions of the word/translation. Students collaborate and discuss vocabulary freely which is engaging to them versus memorizing terms.

Kelly Walsh December 7, 2016 at 3:36 pm

Well, Leo, this could be another post in and of itself. There are pros and cons of a quiz versus a more interactive sort of assignment. Of course, the learning objective is also important to consider when creating an assessment (in this case, “Demonstrate familiarity with digital technologies terminology (e.g.: ‘RAM’, ‘Gigabyte’, ‘cloud computing’)” is the learning objective. The students need to understand that it is important to have an awareness of technical technology … they do not need to memorize these terms for the long term (especially since tech terms are constantly evolving). So a less formal, and more fun exercise can be a functional assessment in this case. Some students just don’t do well under pressure while taking a quiz, and something like this can be a more enjoyable way to have repeated exposure to these terms and their definitions. While some students may see this as “beneath them”, I am only using one such assessment, consisting of several mini-“puzzles”, providing a break from other more challenging assignments.

Leo Clark December 7, 2016 at 9:11 am

Hi, I teach an assessment class for new teachers and would love to hear more about your rationale for using these puzzles. These type of activities are usually classified as busy work but I know that students enjoy doing them, so I would really like to demonstrate to my students.

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