As a librarian, I distributed word finds to the children of all grade levels after teaching the lesson for that day. I chose ones that correlated with the subject that we were studying. For, example, if were covering the Presidents, then they received a word search listing the Presidents by last name.
The students were always excited to receive them. The searches calmed and challenged them at the same time. Also, it was an activity where they experienced personal success. The students used cognitive skills as they learned word order and the correct spelling of words, as they added several new words to their vocabularies.
My helpers passed around the little baskets filled with colorful markers including a host of pastels. The students carefully selected the color or colors they wanted to work with to cross words off the list. Sometimes when I graded their work, there were little art designs drawn along the sides of the page.
After they worked individually for a while, I allowed them to work in pairs. Of course, they loved this because it fulfilled that need for a little socialization. Oftentimes, when it was time to leave the library, students would ask if they could take a few extras home to their siblings. It really does not take much to please a child!
As we moved through the divisions of the Dewey Decimal System, I distributed word finds on that particular subject. After doing tedious bibliographic searches in books, this was a relaxing way for them to still obtain new information about a subject category. Also, it was a great reinforcement tool.
Though this was one of our rituals, I had never actually completed a word find until the other day. I had a new book lying around and I had some lull time. I started finding words and I ended up doing more than one puzzle. They say hindsight is 20-20. So, as I look back, I realize that the learning activity was indeed everything that I thought that it had been to the children.
I enjoyed being engaged and found myself using different colored markers as well. I practiced what I had preached. I found it rewarding but quite challenging. The word searches reminded me of life. Sometimes the answer is sitting right there in front of us but it takes time for us to actually see it. So I had quite a few ‘Aha moments.’
Some of the teachers complained about the word finds and felt that they had no educational value in the library. I just ignored them because I know the importance of word power. And guess what? Over time, those same exact teachers started giving word finds to their homeroom classes because they saw that they were not only calming but quite educational. So I went from “aha’ to ‘hmm.”
Lynn December 29, 2014