Be Creative! Adults Projects
Be Creative! : Design a Word Search or Crossword Puzzle

Design a Word Search or Crossword Puzzle

By Chris Dunmire

Design a Wordsearch or Cross Word PuzzleRemember how fun it was to find the hidden words in a jumble of letters on the puzzle page in the newspaper? Well, now you have a chance to create your own word search to share with someone else. (This activity is wonderful for classroom activities and for keeping small minds busy!)

All you have to do is download and print our my PDF Word Search template page and then unleash your creativity by thinking up a puzzle theme and choosing words for others to find.

For an additional fun and challenges, see my Create a Crossword Puzzle instructions below.

Project Materials Needed:

  • FREE Word Search Template
  • Pencil and Pen

Try It!

  1. Download my Word Search template activity page.
  2. Choose a search theme and write a list of 10-20 words in the space provided on the template (theme examples: animals, food, colors, seasons, holidays, TV shows).
  3. Next, write your words in the grid by arranging them horizontal, vertical, diagonal, up, down, and backwards. Creativity Tip: Do this in pencil first, and later in pen. Also, try to "cross" letters in two or more words to make finding them more interesting.
  4. Last, fill in the rest of the empty squares with random letters. When finished, give your word search to someone else to do. Be sure to create an answer key for yourself!

Create a Crossword Puzzle

If you like the idea of designing a crossword puzzle instead of a word search puzzle, you can still use my printable Word Search template to make it.

Tips to creating a crossword puzzle:

  1. Decide on a theme for your puzzle. Brainstorm more words than you intend on using.
  2. Choose at least 10 words for the entire puzzle: 5 across, and 5 down. Plan your words to cross another word at least once horizontally or vertically (think of the game Scrabble).
  3. Lay your words out in the grid in pencil. If you can't get a word to fit, choose another from your list. Once you're sure all the words fit together, ink in your borders and numbers (1 across, 1 down, etc.). DO NOT ink in the spaces where the words will be written.
  4. Write clues for each word "answer" appropriate for the age group that will solve the puzzle. Once all clues are written, erase the penciled in words on the puzzle.
  5. Be sure to create an answer key for yourself!

What You'll Learn:

These projects will help you to understand the brainstorming and planning that goes into laying out a simple puzzle.

The NEXT Creative Step...

If you enjoyed designing the word search or crossword puzzle, explore Creativity Portal's Interactive Activities page for more online puzzle makers and generators. •

© Chris Dunmire 2004, 2007. All rights reserved.

Chris Dunmire (@funmire) is a deeply engaged creative spirit, imaginary being, lover of wit, words, wisdom, and the driving force behind the original award-winning Creativity Portal™ Web site launched in 2000.

Updated 8/7/14

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