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What's The Word?


  • Arts & Humanities
    --Language Arts


  • 3-5
  • 6-8

Brief Description

Students define 4-5 words, create crossword puzzles with a free online tool, and then share their puzzles for review purposes.


Students will:
  • define vocabulary words using print or online dictionaries;
  • create crossword puzzles with those words and definitions; and
  • share their puzzles with peers for review.


vocabulary, spelling

Materials Needed

  • Dictionaries (online or print)
  • Pen and paper (or word processing software)
  • Internet access
  • Printer

Lesson Plan

Prior to this lesson, students should know how to navigate Web sites and how to print from a computer.

Begin the lesson by demonstrating for students the steps below; they'll complete the steps on their own later:

  • Write on the chalkboard four words from a previous week's vocabulary list.
  • Use a print or online dictionary to define each word.
    If using an online dictionary (such as Merriam-Webster), be aware that each online dictionary targets a different user and reading level. Be sure your students can understand the definitions at the site you're using.
  • Using a TV monitor or projector, display your computer's desktop to students.
  • Go to
  • Select from the drop-down menu "Criss-Cross puzzle".
  • Under Step 1, type "Spelling Words for [today's date] by [your name]," filling in the bracketed information.
  • Skip Steps 2 and 3.
  • Under Step 4, type one of the spelling words on the chalkboard, hit the space bar once, and type the word's definition. Hit Enter or Return.
  • Type the second word on the chalkboard, add a space, and then type the definition.
  • Repeat the same steps for words 3 and 4.
  • Click "Create My Puzzle!" You now should see a short printable crossword puzzle!
    Note: Discovery School's Puzzlemaker site gets a lot of traffic during the school day, so don't be surprised if you need to hit the Back button and click the Create My Puzzle! button several times before a puzzle appears.
  • Print two copies of the puzzle -- one to be used as the solvable puzzle; the other to be filled out and saved as an answer key.

Arrange students into groups of 4-5, and assign each group a different set of four vocabulary words. Then have students follow the above steps to create their own puzzles. This activity can be completed in a computer lab or a single-computer classroom, either individually, in groups, or as a whole class activity.


Students will be assessed on their
  • ability to look up -- and write down -- definitions of assigned vocabulary words.
  • ability to use an online crossword puzzle tool.
  • time management skills.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Lorrie Jackson

National Standards

NL-ENG.K-12.4 Communication Skills
NL-ENG.K-12.5 Communication Strategies
NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills