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“I Know the Answer to 1 Down!”

Crossword Puzzle Day is celebrated annually on December 21. Crossword puzzles were created and published on that day in 1913. Nothing tests your knowledge like a crossword puzzle! But did you know the format of a crossword puzzle can be an effective teaching tool, too?

Using this tool from ReadWriteThink.org, children and teens can solve ready-made puzzles designed around grade-appropriate topics. Solving a crossword puzzle can teach new words, the meanings of those words, and how to spell them. Students can also jump into the driver’s seat and create their own puzzles. Choosing their own topics and mapping out their own puzzles develops big-picture thinking.

To create a puzzle from scratch, children and teens must demonstrate deeper knowledge of the topic and the words that will serve as the puzzle’s answers. Coming up with clues sharpens communication skills. It’s an art to write a clue that gives just a hint, but doesn’t give an obvious answer. Encourage students to study their content area vocabulary, practice grammar or parts of speech, or demonstrate what they have learned by creating crossword puzzles.

In the Create mode of this tool, users have the opportunity to enter words and their clues before it generates the puzzle. The tool also includes a Play mode with crossword puzzles for students in grades K–12. Included with each puzzle are a For Teachers page with troubleshooting help and ideas for use as well as a Tips & Hints page designed to scaffold students’ learning and help them do the research necessary to solve the puzzle.

How could you use Crossword Puzzles with your students?