DIY word find

Looking for the latest mindfulness craze? DIY word finds!

Word searches, or word finds, are great boredom busters for all ages!

These word finds are relaxing and fun. They are a great way to take a break from digital technology and are a really simple way to engage in a little brain activity. You can keep them in your handbag for those moments when the kids need a bit of distracting (waiting rooms, anyone?!). Or pack them in the car when you’re heading away on holiday. And they are a great way to celebrate upcoming holidays. We often rely on food and decorations to set the scene, but activities like these can really get you in the holiday spirit too!

Are word finds good for the brain?

You betcha!

“Studies have shown that word search and other puzzles can help improve memory, focus, vocabulary, and overall mental acuity.”

Ask Science: Is word search good for your brain?

But what’s better than doing a word find, I hear you ask? Creating your own! These are such a fun way to make your own activities for your kids. And after you’ve set a few down in front of them, I bet they’ll be wanting to try it out for themselves. You can choose a theme that suits you, such as sports your family likes, or places you each want to travel and really personalise it. It’s as easy as that! And a great way for kids to create challenges for each other (not to mention the obvious sneaky spelling lesson – shhh!).

Do-it-yourself word finds

DIY word find

Learn how to create your own word find

  1. Write a list of words

    Brainstorm words to fit your theme. It’s fun to have some easier and some harder. I use ten words for 5-8 years old, fifteen words for 9-12 years old and twenty words for teens (and adults!).

  2. Prepare the grid

    You can create one yourself, or use my template here. Simply open it up, save a copy to your own computer and then close mine so that you don’t get mixed up between the two. My template has options for all three age groups, so you can select the one you like or use all three.

  3. Enter the words into the grid

    These can be up, down, across, backwards, diagonal – any direction you like. This is how you make your word search easier or harder. I think the hardest words to find are backwards, on the diagonal! They can either overlap each other, or go in separately. As you enter the words make sure to list them below the table also, so that you remember which ones you have already added.

  4. Fill in the rest of the grid

    Fill in all of the blank spaces with random letters. This does take a little more attention than you’d think and you need to watch out for any naughty words that you might accidentally spell. I also like to put in a few false starts, either around the start of the word or by starting to spell the first few letters of a word in a completely different spot. This plays tricks on the eye and makes you work harder to find the word. I put in a few double “s” or “t” to catch the eye also, and “ing” or “ent”. Your brain likes to look for patterns – give it a challenge!

  5. Finishing touches

    Whether you are using your own grid, or using my template, you might like to get rid of the grid now. Select the table properties and choose ‘0 pt’ for the table border. And add some graphics or colour if you want to fancy it up a bit. Your word find is ready to go! Print it out and have some fun.

DIY word finds – the shortcut

Short on time or effort? No worries! You can still make your own word find, choose your theme and create your own list of words without the hassle. Discovery Education has an awesome word search puzzle generator. You enter the list of words and it will populate the grid for you! also has a pretty cool generator. Not only can you create and print out your own puzzles, but it generates a URL (a web address) for your very own word find so you can email the link to someone else. That’s a great way for the kids to send their own creations to the grandparents. Then they can either print it off or play it online.

I was going to suggest a third one that was pretty cool because you can use their pre-made list and it has a built in checker for bad words, but you can pretty easily (and mistakenly) click on ‘edit the bad word list’ and before you realise it you’re staring down every bad word you could think of. So just in case the kiddos are following these instructions, we’ll leave that one out for today 🙂

Not ready to make your own? Check out these free holiday word search printables.

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