23rd February 2019

Word Grid Challenge

The word grid challenge

Have you heard of the word grid challenge? This activity can be used in any subject area. It would make a great lesson starter, review task, or even as a homework activity. The best thing about this activity: it is super easy to create. In fact, I now have a bunch of word grids made up and ready to go in my classroom.

So what exactly is a word grid?

Simple, a word grid is, well exactly as it sounds, a grid with words in. I create a grid or table of 3 x 3 or 4 x 4 boxes. Inside each box, I place a different word. The challenge for my students is to connect each word on the grid to the topic we are currently studying. I make sure there is plenty of space around the grid for them to write notes.

How do I choose the words for each grid?

Real talk time: I have a bunch of these made up and ready to use in my classroom. I make them so there are 2 per page. I tend to have a few leftovers. So sometimes I will just grab a set – with no prior thought (!) and ask my students to link the words to whatever text we are studying.

And you know what?! They always do it. They prove to me that they are capable of creative, out of the box thinking.

This week, the words I used with 3 different classes were:

  • money;
  • hope;
  • celebration;
  • questions;
  • sound;
  • fear;
  • plans;
  • shape;
  • and freedom.

I plucked these out of the air with no particular purpose in mind. My students were able to link them to a Shakespeare play, modern poetry, and a short non-fiction text on survival. This same set of words.

Words with purpose

Generally, I do write these grids with specific words in mind. Perhaps I have taught my class the word ‘Machiavellian’ and I want to give them an opportunity to circle back round to the keyword from a new angle.  Another strategy is to take key terms from a prior topic and see if they can apply them to this new topic. So for example, when reading A Christmas Carol, I might have looked at the idea of ’empathy’. I would add empathy to the word grid for a new topic on a different novel or text.

How do I use these grids in my classroom?

It’s super simple! Create the word grid: I simply make 2 tables in a Word document – ensuring there is enough room for pupils to write their ideas around the outside. Then:

  1. Print and copy
  2. Give to each student (or pair)
  3. Ask them to link all of these words in some way to the topic we are covering
  4. Feedback with ideas

Another strategy is to use your ‘leftover’ grids and give different grids to different students. That way you have more words being covered and more discussion about your topic.

The word grid challenge


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