Sunday, November 30, 2008

Five Free Crossword Puzzle Builders

A quick search of the Internet will reveal hundreds of free crossword puzzles and other word games. Another adding the word "maker" or "builder" to the same search will return many free programs for building your own crossword puzzles. The problem with about half of those results is those websites have pop-up ads or are otherwise littered with obtrusive advertising. The following are five crossword puzzle builders that offer simple and effective user interfaces without obtrusive advertising.

1. Read, Write, Think offers a crossword puzzle builder as well as pre-made crossword puzzles designed for all grade levels K-12.

2. Just Crosswords has a new puzzle maker with which you can build crossword puzzles, save them, print them, or embed into your website or blog. Just Crosswords also has more than 300 categorized, educational crossword puzzles.

3. Variety Games hosts a free crossword puzzle maker. You can select the dimensions of your puzzle or allow your puzzle to be auto-formatted. To use the puzzle in your classroom you will have to print the puzzle.

4. Armored Penguin has a very flexible crossword puzzle builder. You can select from a simple puzzle maker or large puzzle maker depending on the number of clues that you want to include. Armored Penguin's program also gives you the option of including or excluding an answer key.

5. Ed Helper has a basic crossword builder that accepts up to thirty words. Ed Helper has other basic puzzle builders for free. To use the more advanced options, like larger puzzles, you will have to subscribe to the service.

We Didn't Start the Fire Montage

Billy Joel's 1989 hit song, We Didn't Start the Fire, has been used social studies lesson plans for almost 20 years now. The song mentions major world events from 1949 through 1989. This video matches an image to every event mentioned in the song.
Thanks to Open Culture for sharing the video.

Applications for Education
One way that this song has been used by social studies teachers is by having students conduct research projects on the events mentioned in the song. Now that there are great video creation tools like Animoto, students could create their own video about the same set of events. A more original use of the concept would be to have students create a song or music video about important world events in their lifetimes.