Making word clouds is not only a fun activity for students but also a great tool for teaching difficult concepts. You can use creating word clouds as a “Hook” activity for a lesson, as a mid-lesson teaching tool, or to summarize a concept.
Before beginning a class project, check out online tools such as wordclouds.com, worditout.com or tagxedo.com, which are easy to use and free.
Different websites offer word clouds. They offer slightly different variations.
Sites for Creating Word Clouds
- TAGUL https://tagul.com/
- TagCrowd http://tagcrowd.com/
- WordItOut http://worditout.com/
- Make Word Mosaic http://www.imagechef.com/ic/word_mosaic/
- Word Sift http://www.wordsift.com/
- Tagxedo http://www.tagxedo.com/
Here are a few things you may want to try:
#1 Figurative Language ~ Onomatopoeia
Have students create a word cloud with onomatopoeic words. The word onomatopoeia must be added to the word list four to five times for it to appear larger than the others on the finished product. The definition for onomatopoeia must be added to the list three to four times, so it will be larger than the word onomatopoeia yet smaller than the other words.
Figurative Language ~ Idioms and/or Proverbs
Have students select a topic that relates to something they have been studying. For example, if you are reading The Mouse and the Motorcycle or The Tales of Despereaux, you might select mice. Students should research to find a list of idioms or proverbs relating to their topic. Make a word web in the shape of your topic. The example above was created using Tagxedo using idioms and proverbs related to cats.
#2 Classroom Favorites
Create a word cloud with student favorites. This could be everything from best school lunch, favorite ball teams, most liked class read novels, etc.
#3 Analyze Texts
Have students create word clouds of a text they have read, such as a novel or nonfiction piece. They can then analyze the word cloud to identify the most important themes or ideas in the text.
#4 Prefixes or Suffixes
This simple word cloud contains four prefixes with a list of 3 to 4 words beginning with each prefix. My fourth-grade students created word clouds like this one.
#5 Root Words
Have each student in the class select one root word to highlight. Here the root “SPEC” is shown.
You can use word clouds to feature just one word as in the example above or place your entire list of words into a word cloud. Either way, the results will turn out fantastic. Some variations might include listing synonyms or antonyms of a word. Select a word; then list shades of meaning. For example, billionaire ~ loaded ~ wealthy ~ affluent ~ well-off. This example would look great in the shape of a dollar sign.
#7 Story Elements
This is an image of Winn-Dixie from the book Because of Winn-Dixie. To give you an idea about how a list of phrases will look, here is the list that was added to create this image:
- has many friends
- listens to music
- loves stories
- eats peanut butter sandwiches
- afraid of thunderstorms
You could create a similar word cloud using words that describe a book’s setting.
#8 Parts of Speech
Create word clouds with all nouns, verbs, adjectives, and so on.
#9 Analyze Writing
Have students create word clouds of their own writing, such as journal entries or creative writing. They can then reflect on the words they use most frequently and consider how they might use more descriptive or varied language.
#10 Get to Know You
At Tagxedo you can upload your own images. A great back-to-school night activity is to have each student upload his/her picture. Students then list words that describe their personalities. Display these on a bulletin board. Parents will have a great time trying to spot their children.