How to Make a Crossword Puzzle for School

Crossword puzzles may include many words, or just a few.

Crossword puzzles are a good way to review vocabulary concepts in a way that is both thought-provoking and enjoyable. Teachers often use them for this purpose, but may also assign their creation as a way to give students deeper practice with recognizing words and their definitions. Students will inevitably review the definitions and words several times while creating their puzzle. This review increases their knowledge of the words due to the frequency of their contact with the concepts.

Choose the words with which you would like to make your crossword puzzle. You might look through your textbook or other school materials for important vocabulary words or you might have been given a list of vocabulary words by your teacher. You could select words that relate to a particular theme, historical period, unit or book of study.

Crossword puzzles are designed by interlocking the letters of words.

Arrange your words in a pattern. They should intersect in both vertical and horizontal rows. Each word should connect with at least one other word. Some crossword puzzles are arranged to match as many words as possible with other words. The format of your puzzle will depend on the number of words in your list.

Use graph paper to draw your crossword puzzle.

Draw the puzzle on graph paper by outlining boxes to match the word arrangement you created. Outline a box for each letter used.

Fill in the unused boxes in your puzzle to make it clear which boxes correspond with words and which boxes do not need to be considered when solving the puzzle.

Number your words going across and down, starting from the number one to help the puzzle solver identify which definitions match the created boxes.

Use a textbook or dictionary to look up the definitions for your words or write your own clues based on a given definition.

Create two lists, "Across" and "Down", below your puzzle to list definitions or clues for your puzzle solver. List the numbers for the answers. Write down your definition or clue from next to each corresponding number.

  • Your teacher may give you more specific instructions. Read through the assignment carefully.
  • Plan ahead to avoid trying to fit too many words into one puzzle.
  • Alternatively, you may choose to use an Internet crossword puzzle creator instead of drawing your own.

Anna Tower has a B.A. in history and journalism from Washington & Lee University and a M.A.Ed. from the College of William and Mary. She has been writing since 2003 at various publications, including the "Rockbridge Report," the "Fairfax County Times" and "USA Today." Tower is certified to teach social studies, English and journalism in grades 6-12.