Word Searches are Stupid

Word searches are stupid because they have very little educational content other than that the words in the search are usually vocabulary words from an area of study. Not only that, they take very little thinking to solve. Basically, just scaning for letters. They are the ulitmate form of busy work.

Here are some ways to make them less stupid:

Use clues instead of a list of words  If you are studying state capitals, instead of listing the capital cities of the midwest, list the states with a write on line and have the students fill in the correct capitals before finding them in the word search. Or give clues to the words. For example, if are studying cells instead of simply listing the word "membrane" you could write: This is the layer that surrounds the cell.

Scramble or code it Scramble each word in the word list and have a write on line for unscrambling before students find them in the word search. Or write the words in code and have the students decode the words before finding them in the word search.

Make it tricky  This one is especially good for spelling words. Make your word search manually rather than using an online word search generator and make it tricky by including many near-misses For each word, have several places in the wordsearch where the word is almost spelled correctly, but is just one letter off. This means that kids must look at the word carefully to make sure it is correct.

Have students create their own  Use graph paper. Then have them swap with a neighbor. Even better, have them define the words they choose to use or justify why they should be included in a themed puzzle.


Anonymous said...

I completely disagree for early and middle grade levels. With a word search students are learning and recognizing letters in specific orders to match words. This letter recognition and letter order are important to the recognition of words which leads to calling words that with discussion leads to actual reading.

Rachel Lynette said...

Good point. I can see how there is value there. Thank you for pointing that out! But I still think they are overused in many classrooms.

Anonymous said...

I agree Rachel. While I can see their value in getting students to recognize letter order, I think that word searches are generally void of educational content and are a waste of valuable time.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, word searches are good for K-5 grades. I get their sight words and vocab. words and make word searches. It helps with spelling and to recognize the words in reading.
And this is not me but is my daughter

anonymous said...

I teach 5th and agree that word searches have little value. There are better ways to teach letter recognition and letter combinations. Word searches are torture for students with ADD also.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree that word searches are just busy work, and no real learning occurs. In this era of testing and over-testing we can certainly find better researched-based activities for young minds. On the other hand, sometimes a busy teacher needs 10 quiet minutes . . . ��

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