Word searches offer the opportunity for students to ease into a difficult subject like spelling. English is a particularly difficult language to spell due to the shifting rules and strange pronunciations. Help your students face commonly misspelled words with a well-constructed word search.
Identifying Commonly Misspelled Words
The most important step to any educational word search is choosing the words. Which words are hard words to spell for your class? Are there certain words that the vast majority of students missed on a spelling quiz? All of these words will go into your word search.
This may create a long enough word list for your word search (or enough words for multiple word searches). If it does not, or if you’d like to purposefully introduce difficult words to your students, dictionary websites often identify commonly misspelled words and what makes them difficult.
Why is a Word Commonly Misspelled?
Let’s look at the “Misspelled Words” puzzles teachers have already made. There are a couple of trends among them.
First, many teachers point out the differences between phonetics and spelling. Some words don’t sound how they look. Furthermore, some words have different spellings that lead to the same pronunciation. “Their,” They’re,” and “There” still confuses adults.
To offer your students a bonus step, have them write in the various definitions next to each word on the word list for the repeating pronunciations.
Words with more syllables also prove extra challenging. The words in this word list have no less than three syllables, and some have as many as six syllables.
Whichever words you use, you might have students solve the word search, then highlight, circle, or underline the part of the word that makes it hard to spell. This kind of identification will help them to correct the error in the future.
Making Your Misspelled Words Word Search
Remember the elements of good spelling word searches. To review, a good spelling word search should:
- Be made with logical parameters.
- Not be used as an assessment.
- Have one cohesive thread in a word list.
- Be age-appropriate.
Consider other construction factors that come into play with particularly difficult words. A short word search like this will help students not get frustrated with words they already find difficult. Similarly, the larger the word search, the more options your students will have to consider (and to rule out).
Also think about the font when you make your puzzle. Dyslexic students, for example, find some fonts easier to work with than others. The average student might not need a change, but perhaps test it out by making word searches in multiple fonts.
Once you’ve made your word searches and had students solve them, share yours in the comments to help other teachers gather information. Additionally, if you’d like to make a spelling word search for your foreign language class, learn more about making puzzles for Spanish or French here.
Kristen Seikaly used her artistic background, research skills, and love for the internet to launch her first blog, Operaversity. Now she uses the skills to connect teachers, parents, and game enthusiasts with Crossword Hobbyist and My Word Search. She studied music at the University of Michigan, and now lives in Philadelphia.