Word searches are a popular type of puzzle in which the player’s goal is to locate a number of words hidden with an array or grid of letters. The challenge comes from the fact the words can be placed at any location in the grid, and be orientated in quite literally any direction, including horizontally, vertically and diagonally. Furthermore, words aren’t just placed in the usual left to right, and top to bottom orientations – words can be arranged in directions that you’d never expect, right to left, bottom upwards, and any of the four diagonals.
Many of us have seen word search puzzles in newspapers or magazines, and perhaps even bought books of such puzzles to relax with when sunbathing at the side of the pool on vacation, or to pass the time on a long train or plane journey. What you may not know is that word search puzzles are also increasing being applied in educational environments, especially K-12 education. This is because many teachers have realized that while students may be having fun when solving these puzzles, they are also learning to work patiently and methodically to reach the solution, and are also improving their spelling (since solving a word search requires focusing on the exact letters in each word).
It is possible to make your own word search puzzle using just a pen and paper, but I wouldn’t recommend it! You can spend hours trying to fit words together in different arrangements, and still not come up with a satisfactory puzzle – this is exactly the sort of job that computers are much better at than humans. With some word search maker software, all you need to do is enter a list of words and the computer can then generate a puzzle with the click of a button. You could also experiment with creating different size and shape puzzles – for example, why not make a puzzle in a shape that ties in with your puzzle’s theme?