This year, I started using word searches as part of my Words Their Way word study routine. Having students complete a word search hunting for the words that might be part of their word study list has been a fun, engaging way to kick-off word study.
A light bulb came on for me about the educational value of word searches and spelling abilities---I have always been good at word searches AND am good at spelling. I think there is a connection between spelling skill and your brain's ability to recognize word patterns that could potentially lead to a word in a puzzle. As students complete these word searches each week, I hope their pattern recognition gets stronger and stronger. For example, if I see -ing in a string of letters, I should start looking around them to see if it makes a word. The same goes for -ed, -ai-, -igh, etc.
I finally have completed the word searches for Syllables and Affixes Spellers and Within Word Pattern Spellers. I use the Words Their Way Word Sorts books and have found them to be an AMAZING resource that makes implementing word study enjoyable (instead of miserable) for me. Prior to these books, I felt annoyed that I spent so much time planning and creating lists for word study, picking and choosing the patterns that I thought students needed to learn more about. Words Their Way word sorts have been created with more research and knowledge than I could ever hope to have on how spelling patterns and word knowledge builds for students. With the Words Their Way spelling inventory and feature analysis, I now feel that I am differentiating spelling/word study to meet students needs. I have groups of students in all of the Words Their Way Levels.
I made the word searches in two forms. I use a 1/2 sheet that students glue into their word study notebooks. I thought other teachers might like the word searches on individual pages--these can even be turned into Word Study Word Search Workbooks for students.
Because my purpose for creating the word searches was to have students search for word patterns in a fun way, you will not find lists included with the searches, so access to the Words Their Way word sort books will help you utilize these to their fullest potential. If you want students to have access to their lists in order to complete the word searches, the word search activity could happen later in your word study routine.