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Is there any point to doing word searches?

(28 Posts)
Ouluckyduck Thu 18-Oct-12 22:02:32

sorry I know I already did an aibu thread about word searches today, but I am still trying to figure out if there is any educational point to word searches or if they are as much a waste of time as I think they are?

Roseformeplease Thu 18-Oct-12 22:04:13

Yes, waste of time. My son hates them and I don't see the point (teacher) and would never, ever inflict them on a child. It is just lazy teaching. Get your child to read a book instead.

Lougle Thu 18-Oct-12 22:07:48

I disagree. Word searches practice good letter-ordering skills, for a start. Let's say you are looking for 'wonder'. It's good practice to know that you're looking for a 'w' first, then any 'w' has to have an 'o' next to it, in any direction, then any 'wo' has to have a 'n' next to it..and so on.

When we look up a word in a dictionary, we use the same skill.

Gumby Thu 18-Oct-12 22:08:48

Agree with lougle

I love word searches!

coldcupoftea Thu 18-Oct-12 22:10:21

Dunno but my 4yo DD loves them!

Hassled Thu 18-Oct-12 22:11:30

What Lougle said. Must help with spelling and whatever.

Ouluckyduck Thu 18-Oct-12 22:11:50

I tell you what's worse than a word search... Two word searches! Which is my daughter's h/w today! After already writing 15 sentences...

needsomesunshine Thu 18-Oct-12 22:12:54

Depends. You can get customised word searches that you put your own words into which are really good for reiterating words learnt.

Ouluckyduck Thu 18-Oct-12 22:27:48

When looking up words in a dictionary the key is to know alphabetical order... Can't really see word searches helping with that.

Lougle Fri 19-Oct-12 07:37:57

But alphabetical order works within words as well as at the beginning of words, in a dictionary - i.e di comes before do. Word searches make people stop looking at the whole word and make them see the component parts. It reinforces spelling and order.

Himalaya Fri 19-Oct-12 07:45:41

Word searches are boring and pointless.

redskyatnight Fri 19-Oct-12 10:12:37

Excellent for spelling as they reinforce in a different way. DS can write out a word hundreds of times and it still won't go in, but having to think slightly obliquely as you do for a wordsearch seems to help him.

Also I guess that wordsearches based on a topic help to introduce topic based vocabularly in a more fun way than "here's a list of words".

rabbitstew Fri 19-Oct-12 10:57:45

I would have thought word searches help develop visual perception, don't they? It's a useful skill to be able to find the detail in the confusing mass and to be able to use your eyes to scan in various directions. Like playing connect four... I think it requires a mix of quite sophisticated skills, not all limited solely to spelling, words and the English language. If you don't like them, it's not because they are utterly pointless, silly games with no merit.

Himalaya Fri 19-Oct-12 11:09:20

Redsky -

There are more fun and relevant ways to learn topic based vocabulary than finding the letters in a wordsearch. ... being able to find the word on a grid bears no relationship to understanding it or knowing how to use it.

There are more useful ways to learn spelling rules and patterns.

If the main 'skill' they are training is finding detail in a mass of confusion it would be just as legitimate to have an exercise that said find some number strings in a box of numbers - e.g. 7689954 etc... or find smilesmilegrinwinkwink in a grid of smileys.

Yes this might be fun once, but not multiple times over a school career. The thing with word searches is that they look more educational than the smileys exercise because they involve words, but there is really nothing more to them.

I think they are just lazy make-work.

drjohnsonscat Fri 19-Oct-12 11:21:09

I can imagine what the value might be and I think rabbitstew has captured it really well. How often in real life do you scan a document looking for the one bit that's relevant to you - I know I do that without really "reading" the other words - I'm just searching for the word I need and then just read that bit.

OK it's true that that word is not normally printed diagonally or backwards! But I think it's a useful thing.

lakeofshiningwaters Fri 19-Oct-12 11:59:45

YANBU Surely word searches come in the same category as Sudoku and Crosswords ie. keep your brain active in different ways, helping memory and connecting different brain areas? Okay, some will find them fun and some won't. I love word searches and Sudoku, but would run a mile from a cross word!

Same your child doesn't enjoy them - that doesn't make them lazy teaching, or something to sneer at when other children do find them both useful and enjoyable.

mummytime Fri 19-Oct-12 12:06:54

No Wordsearches are great! They are used in secondary pretty frequently, often in order to encourage students to spot key vocabulary eg. in French, or Rock types in Chemistry. Students yend to like them, think they are just "playing" but they are learning.

On the other hand dyslexic children can really struggle with them, so you have to be careful.

Its the same as filling the blank exercises I used to think they were pretty pointless but actually they have great strengths depending on how you use them.

BigBoobiedBertha Fri 19-Oct-12 12:16:49

I agree with Rabbitstew and Lougle. There are merits to them over and above being a game to fill the time.

They do help with letter ordering, they teach scanning techniques because children do need to learn the skill of looking for things in an ordered and systematic way to solve a problem. Like rabbitstew said, it is a life skill to be able to scan text for the information you need and it is one that I use a lot but which doesn't come naturally to children and wordsearches help.

They help reinforce the spelling and are useful because not every way will suit every child. My DC have had them with words related to their current topics as well, in fact I DS2 did one this week on the Tudors. wink

It is no more pointless a way to learn spellings than getting children to learn them from a list by rote, it is just different.

Some children enjoy them, some don't but that goes for any subject or teaching method so that in itself is not a reason to stop doing them imo.

BigBoobiedBertha Fri 19-Oct-12 12:19:39

YY to what mummytime says about some children with SEN finding them difficult. I have a dyspraxic DS who has trouble with using the strategies. His searching is very random and therefore time consuming. He would probably benefit reinforcing the skills need by doing more of them not less!

rabbitstew Fri 19-Oct-12 13:54:04

Himalaya - what do you scan for more often in your daily life? Smileys and number strings, or particular words, letter combinations and sentences within a piece of text? I think it is utterly fatuous to claim looking for smileys serves the same purpose. An exercise which fulfils more than one useful purpose is better than smiley hunting any day... But then, of course, parents are so much more bloody clever than their children's teachers and universally know much more about visual and academic development, don't they, so I expect you are right that they are a complete waste of time and there is no point exercising your brain to try and work out why they might be considered of some use hmm.

Himalaya Fri 19-Oct-12 13:57:31

There is nothing wrong with word search puzzles if you like doing them (...like Sudoku or whatever)

But if any child came out of education never having encountered a word search puzzle I don't think they would suffer at all in terms of spelling, vocabulary, or being able to scan documents for the relevant bit.

Does anyone ever say 'I loved that teacher, they were so inspirational, they really brought the subject alive....with their word search puzzles'

rabbitstew Fri 19-Oct-12 13:59:08

Although I agree they shouldn't be used too often - if some children struggle with them, you need to work out which bit of the exercise they are finding a problem, and if children find them boring, you need to be more imaginative and provide more variety in their homework. And you need to know yourself why you are using them. I am, in other words, making the not unreasonable assumption, here, that teachers do always try to think through the purpose of the homework they give children - I'm certain they are supposed to do that!...

rabbitstew Fri 19-Oct-12 14:00:28

Himalaya - have you ever had a child with visual processing difficulties?

mummytime Fri 19-Oct-12 14:17:59

When I have produced a wordsearch for a class of year 8's in the summer term, you almost get a cheer. They tend to like doing them, and they don't realise they are doing some revision at the same time. Yes you could give them a spelling test instead, but they wouldn't see them as fun.

They can be overdone, but then the kids will great them with groans not enthusiasm (and these weren't swotty kids at all).

trinity0097 Fri 19-Oct-12 17:10:43

I often use them in Maths, where the child has to work out a calculation and then write the answer in a word and find it. Doing it as a word search is far more motivating for the children to do it that way than just a page of sums, it's the same when I use calculated colouring (i.e. colour by numbers). Different children learn in different ways and children need lots of experience of doing something for it to stick, and if this can be in a varied manner then all the better for them. You'd be complaining if the teacher did the same style of thing every lesson!

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