Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Reverse Crossword Puzzles

This is an activity I got from one of our resource teachers in Howard County.  It's a vocabulary related activity that can be used with basically any unit (and for any language).  Basically, students will work with groups to generate clues for a crossword puzzle.  Groups will then trade crossword puzzles and try to fill in the crossword puzzle created by the other group.

This is a fun twist on a pretty standard activity.  It's also helpful in getting students some practice in circumlocution - how can I describe a word without using the word itself?

If you're interested in an example set for your class, click here for an animal vocab set.

Here's how to set it up:

  1. Take about 8-12 different vocabulary words from your current vocabulary unit.  Use any online crossword puzzle generator site to create a crossword.  For the clues, just put the words themselves.  Create about 3-4 sets of crosswords like this, each with different vocabulary words (there can be some overlap, but most words should be different).
  2. Divide students into groups of 2-5.  Each group gets one of the crossword puzzles.  Their job is to create clues for all of the words.  Their clues can be complete sentences, examples, descriptions - it doesn't matter how they do it, so long as they don't include the word in the clue itself.

    Be careful - some students will get confused their first time doing this activity.  Tell them that they should NOT write anything in the actual puzzle - they are ONLY writing in the clue section below the puzzle.
  3. Once students have generated their clues, have them erase the actual words (white out or write over them in a really dark marker).
  4. Students trade their completed puzzles with another group.  Groups now try to solve the new puzzle.

In order to get a bit more use out of the puzzles (so that multiple groups could solve the same puzzles once they'd been created), I made these boards for the activity:

I got large pieces of construction paper.  On one half I attached some graph paper and on the other have is just a sheet that says "Waagerecht/Across" and "Senkrecht/Down" (arrows include on the sheet to help students who are unfamiliar with the words).  I then had them laminated.

Groups still receive a paper copy of the puzzle as described in the steps above.  Once they're done, however, they write their clues on the right side (emphasize that they should NOT write the word itself). They then draw the blank puzzle on the left side (when I have student aides, I have them draw in the puzzles ahead of time).  They do this with wet-erase markers.

When groups trade puzzles with each other and try to solve, they fill in the puzzles with dry-erase markers.  Once finished, they can erase their answers using a tissue but the puzzle and clues will remain.

- Frau Leonard

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