Crossword aficionados, parents looking to inspire their children with spelling or vocabulary, and teachers with a desire to create captivating lesson plans can all benefit from homemade crossword puzzles. Design your own puzzles by hand or online using your choice of words, clues and themes. Vary the complexity of the words and clues according to the age group the puzzle is intended for.
A mixture of words is best to create a puzzle anyone can solve. For instance, use words big and small to create a visually appealing puzzle. Vocabulary words mixed with words the puzzle solver is already comfortable with will ensure the puzzle is completed. For tougher puzzles, consider making it a group activity. If you are designing your crossword by hand you need to configure the words into a grid, with unused areas blacked out. For puzzle generating websites, which you can find in the Resource section below, you will need to have a list of words ready.
Once you establish your words, create the clues that will be used to solve the crossword puzzle. Begin with clues such as synonyms, fill-in-the-blanks and opposites. For synonyms, ask the puzzle solver to come up with a word that has the same or a similar definition to the word you show in your clue. Fill-in-the-blanks are a common type of clue found in crosswords of all levels. Opposite clues can be used for crosswords of any skill level. Experiment with all types of clues to create a balanced puzzle.
Up the ante with some cryptic clues for your crossword puzzles. This is where you can determine the complexity of the puzzle. It is advisable to litter only a handful of cryptic clues among the regular clues to avoid bombarding the puzzle solver with difficult clues, unless it is to be a difficult puzzle for seasoned puzzle solvers. Play with anagrams -- new words made from using all of the letters in an existing word -- and experiment with single words or multiple words. Other ideas include deleting the first letter of a word to form a new one, deleting every second letter or reversing the order of the letters.
While it is not necessary to build a crossword around a theme, you can make a one-of-a-kind puzzle with a theme. For instance, an upcoming family reunion could use family tree or trivia, a vacation theme could be ideal for keeping kids occupied on long legs of a flight or car ride, and wedding showers could incorporate facts about the bride and groom. Other ideas for themes include sports, current events, celebrities, movies, television, books, seasons, holidays and history. Themes can be as broad or as specific as you like.
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