Word Search puzzle, familiar to almost all students, has several benefits. It helps students to focus. Solving puzzles is especially useful for children with attention disorder. Word Search helps children to develop vocabulary. It is also a useful tool to learn spelling. Word Search is a good visual activity and searching for a word improves the spatial intelligence. This activity is an excellent exercise for the brain.
The aim of this activity here is to improve the spelling of students. Some students struggle to spell. Parents can help their children by designing a spelling programme. They can start by teaching their children sight words.
What are sight words? Sight words are the set of words that are most frequently used. Mastering how to read and write these words and how to use them are essential for students to speed up learning. They should be thorough with these words so that they can read and write automatically without any effort. However, some children find it difficult to handle these basic words. Special training is required to help them learn the spelling of these words. Examples of sight words are:am, you was, her, she.
List of sight words can be downloaded from the internet. The two lists commonly used are Dolch Sight Words and Fry Words.
Edward William Dolch, after extensive research, compiled a list of 220 words which are frequently used. According to Dolch, these words represent over fifty percent of what children read and they should recognize them immediately by sight.
Edward B Fry expanded the list of Dolch words. Fry found that that 25 words make up one- third (33%) of books for children. The list of 300 words compiled by him covers 65% of texts written for children. Fry went on to prepare a list of 1000 words which are most commonly found in the text books of children. It is estimated that these 1000 words make up 90% of what are found in books. The 1000 words identified by Fry can be downloaded from the internet.
Mastering usage of the most commonly used words would be very helpful for children to do well in school. Mastering sight words improves the speed of reading and it greatly helps in comprehension. Mastery of the sight word helps children to copy from the board quickly and take down notes dictated by teachers.
Levels in this activity
There are five levels in this activity. This activity uses frequently used words. Each word is used only once in this activity. 78 sight words are used in the exercises.
In level one, only two letter words are used and the size of the grid is 6 rows by 6 columns. The direction of the search is both horizontal →and vertical↓
Example of words used:an, be, do
In level two, three letter words are used and the size of the grid is 6 rowsx6 columns. There is only one direction of search (either horizontal or vertical) and children have to search for only one word.
Example of words used: day, was, old, see
Level 3 also uses three-letter words and the grid size is 7 rows x 7 columns. The direction of the search is both horizontal and vertical. The hunt is for two words.
Example of words used:had, use, get
In level 4, the length of the words is four letters and the grid size is 9x8. The direction of the search is both vertical and horizontal.
Example: when, came, does, each
The last level 5 has five letter as well as six letter words. The grid size is 10x10. The direction of the search is both vertical and horizontal.
Example: people, these, little, right
Here the emphasis is on learning the spelling of sight words. But, word Search can be used for learning words relating to a theme. If the theme is cars, words relating to parts of the cars can be used in making the word search. This activity is good to improve vocabulary.
Tips for parents:
- If your child struggles to spell words, word search games are helpful. You can make word search puzzles using the most commonly used words. You can download the Fry words and these can be used to make the puzzles. You can vary the size of the grid.
- If your child enjoys solving word search puzzles, you apply some pressure on her/him by specifying the time. Fix the time according to your child’s ability. The time should be fixed in such a way that the child could complete the activity within the specified time. Let the child taste success. This can boost her/his self confidence.
- Ask your child to prepare word search exercises and test you. Preparing word search game is a challenging activity for your child.
- Magazines for children have word search games.
- There are many websites which offer word search games for free. Also search the net for games with sight words. Select the games suitable for your child.
- Download Dolch words and Fry words and make your own word search games.