The education value of crossword puzzles is readily apparent when one considers the multiple learning skills involved in both creating and solving these puzzles. No longer just a fun diversion, crossword puzzles have reached the status of a national pastime in the US and in other countries. Their popularity began around the 1920s and continues to grow today.
Crossword puzzles, at a very basic level, can be a fun way to introduce word skills to the youngest students, while older ones can add to their vocabulary set. Adults meanwhile, enjoy these puzzles so much that they work on millions of copies of puzzles in magazines, newspapers and books every day. In today’s technologically advanced world, there are even computer programs available-such as Discovery Education’s Puzzlemaker-that allows teachers to create customizable puzzles to support classroom instruction for all grades.
The education value of these puzzles reaches into many skill areas. Some of the main areas in which solving and / or creating puzzles can benefit educational efforts include:
1- Vocabulary building
2- Spelling skills
3- Reading skills
4- Word comprehension skills
5- Dictionary skills
6- Reasoning skills
Part of the educational value of crossword puzzles is inherent within the very words used to make up the puzzles. A person trying to solve a puzzle must first understand the clues that lead to the answers, and then use proper spelling to solve the puzzle. Memory and recall also come into play when solving themed crossword puzzles – a science teacher may create a puzzle that uses scientific terms to coordinate with lessons, while a history-related puzzle might have terms from one particular time period, with historical figures, key place names and other relevant historical facts.
All types of learners can benefit from the educational value of puzzles. Using crossword puzzles within education can be a huge plus – teachers have great teaching tools at their disposal, while allowing students to learn while having fun!