Homeschool hack – literacy and connection with a personalised crossword

Want to do a bit more with your kids? Want to support their literacy and wellbeing too? Well, here’s a quick and easy activity that you can do with and for your kids to foster great vocabulary, improved comprehension and spelling skills and, most importantly, connection.

I like to have screen free days some days. It’s too easy to be on our phones, reading on epic, watching movies or playing games and none of us are plugged into each other. So, after the board games and drawing activities dried up last week, I busted out a surprise personalised crossword for our kids. Here are my thoughts on how it landed:

Personal = engaging and affirming

The winning formula for this activity is that the clues can be entirely personal. Your name, something you are good at, your favourite game, something we did on the weekend, another word for… you can get as creative as you like. I included affirmations like ‘you are a_____e’ (awesome) and just made sure that the w second letter was a down word clue so that they didn’t accidentally get a$$hole ha! The compliments triggered smiles and giggles. And when my son couldn’t work out what he was good at beginning with D (drawing) it was a great prompt to talk about it and how he should be proud of his drawings. He said, ‘I forgot I was good at drawing’ which was a win for him (and for me). How easy is it to forget to praise kids frequently enough so that they don’t forget…?

Low- fi = easy entry and accessibility

You dont need tech wizardry for this activity. Hand-drawn cross words and wonky boxes are fine. Doing it imperfectly also sets the bar low if they want to make one themselves so they dont get bogged down with measuring boxes and ruling lines. Having said that, if you google ‘crossword maker’ you will find easy crossword and word search tools that make it even swifter to print or fill in online if you are so inclined. I use digital ones in the classroom to match a topic.

More trickt clues = sneaky extension

In the example above I snuck in a tense check clue ‘do not in past tense’ and that threw my daughter a little bit. My hope is when she eventually learns contractions and tense more formally she will have a prior trigger. It was a great opportunity to have a natural conversation about tense without it feeling too intense. (See what I did there!). It was also a good way to see where they are at with spelling (I put ‘through’ on my son’s one as a sneaky spelling check in).

Doing it with them = fun

Literacy activities at home don’t have to be arduous. They can be fun and foster connection. Your kids will feel seen, can be reminded of their strengths, use everyday clues and have fun working out a personalised puzzle from you.

P.S. The fun continued when the kids wanted to make me a cross word in return. That is a good sign that the activity landed.


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