Create and Play Online Crossword Puzzles

More paperless ideas. You or your students can create online crossword puzzles. Using Crossword Labs you can create a puzzle and then share the link. Crossword Labs was built by Matt Johnson, a computer science undergrad at Washington State University, Vancouver.

I created one for you to complete or view, Film and Robotics Command Terms.

You can paste your word with the clues or type them in. Enter the word, a space, and then the clue. One word/clue pair per line. Add a password so you can edit and/or access the answer sheet later.

Instructions Solving a crossword online:

  • Click a cell on the crossword grid, or click a clue
  • Click twice on a cell to toggle between across and down
  • The active cell is highlighted in blue
  • Start typing in the word
  • Hit enter when you are done typing in the word
  • The word will turn green or red if you got it right or wrong
  • You can use the tab and shift-tab keys to move around the crossword

My crossword looks cutoff when I view it online.
Scroll down. The clues appear on top of the crossword, so if your crossword is big, you need to scroll down to see the rest of it.

Does Crossword Labs work on the iPad?
The iPad ships with a less-than-stellar web browser that doesn’t support many of the features that Crossword Labs uses. However, Crossword Labs is usable on the iPad (but the experience isn’t as good as viewing it in a modern web browser).

Posted in for Students, for Teachers

Create and Play Online Word Search

I love to save paper and being able to create a word search for students to complete online is perfect. You or your students can create their own puzzle and then share the link with others.

The Word Search Maker is a free online creator that saves the puzzle for 30 days. Create one in Aug./Sept. with student names so they can become familiar with the spelling of each other names, have students use it to create their spelling words or Words Their Way list, or use one of the many the pre-created puzzles.

Posted in for Students, for Teachers

Connections, connections, connections

Through a friend of a friend of a friend….

I love my international life that allows me to meet amazing people who have impacted my life in so many different ways and for so long! Having worked in 4 international schools my people connections have grown considerably since my first overseas post in 2016.  The expanse of reliable technology has played a key role in the ability to stay connected to friends as well as technology companies that promote education.

So through Leanne and then Scott I meet Lauren who lives in South Africa and teaches 2nd grade. We connected via Mystery Skype and spent 30 minutes guessing their country. Her 2nd graders were extremely polite, considerate, respectful and possessed amazing critical thinking skills. They discovered our country in less than 10 guesses! It took longer to figure out the city but time was not on their side as we had to move on to Reading class.

Jeff’s students were excited,


camera enamored,


and were thoughtful with their questions.


They narrowed down the country in less than 8 questions! Well done. They even figured out the city and the school they were at.


As one of the students asked before can we do this every day? I say I would love to. I am energized, excited, and more geographically intelligent than when I started.

Not being from the country you live in brings the awareness that you do not really know where you live until you are asked questions you cannot answer.  Thank goodness for globes, maps, atlases, and Google as we looked up questions they asked us and looked up questions to ask them.



The joy of success!


Posted in Digital Citizenship, Global Connections, Map Skills

4A Illustrated Poems

Our Youblisher e-Book is complete!

4A Illustrated Cover

Posted in Google, Student Explemars, Writing

Our First Mystery Skype

What a morning! I was so nervous for our first Mystery Skype and now realize I had no reason to be.

Both classes asked thoughtful and at times politically tricky questions. Both classes were also able to narrow down to the city the school was on. One class even guessed the name of the school. It was a fabulous learning opportunity for all.

“Can we do this every day until the end of the year?” one third grader asked. The teacher responded, “No, but maybe once a week!”

Our video and sound worked perfectly. Our partner school had some issues with sound but they also had some great ways to troubleshoot the issues. The students would do an X with their arms if the answer was no and 2 thumbs up if it was a yes. We also typed out the questions so we could read them to the students if they could not be heard.

Our mystery partner’s class photo:


Our class photo:


Some tips:

Have an adult running the Skype, mic and camera so they can control the pace and type answers if needed.

Record the questions so they know what has been asked and the answer. Students would ask the same question even though they already knew the answer.

Have a world map that they can write on or fold. If the first question is;  Are you north of the Equator? the students can fold the map and show only the area that is part of the answer. Same with the question; Are you east of the Prime Meridian? Now the students are focusing on a quarter of the world and not all of it.

Posted in Global Connections

Mystery Skype

A teacher friend, Leanne, from a previous school asked me to be involved in the Mystery Skype that she was setting up for her 3rd grade students (she is the technology integrator). I loved the idea and we are ready to go on Thursday.

What is Mystery Skype

mystery-skypeMystery Skype is an educational game, invented by teachers, played by two classrooms trying to guess the location of the other class using a 20 questions format. 20 questions is a spoken game which encourages deductive reasoning, critical thinking and creativity. They each take turns asking a question which can be answered with a simple “Yes” or “No.”

Playing Options

Option 1: (Advanced) Find the country/state or province/city of the other classroom by asking only YES/NO questions. A “YES” answer allows to ask another question. A “NO” answer gives the opposing group the chance to ask a question. 20 questions maximum. After each 5 questions a CLUE can be given.

Option 2: (Intermediate) Find the country/state or province/city of the other classroom by asking only YES/NO questions. Alternating asking the questions. After each 5 questions a CLUE can be given.

Option 3: (Beginning). Students will find the location of the other class using clues that the other class gives. It can go back and forth with each team taking turns with questions and answers. This will help younger students stay engaged and keep the frustration level at a minimum.

Watch this great video from fifth grade teacher, Scott Bedley, to get an idea of what to expect.

Check out the awesome Mystery Skype by GoNoodle! You can download it to prevent buffering issues.


Prepare the Students

  1. Before you Skype for the first time understand the types of questions the students need to ask. Play deductive reasoning games like Guess the Number Between 1 and 500Guess My Country or What Famous Person am I? to help students understand how some questions narrow down the possibilities much better than others. When students ask “specific” questions too soon, it’s often a waste of a question. They only have 20 questions!
  2. Have students practice their map skills and how to use Google Maps, Google Earth, Atlases and Maps so they can narrow down a region. It is helpful if they understand cardinal directions, latitude and longitude, and where the oceans and continents are. Also helpful if they know about their own location: what hemisphere are they in, north or south of the equator, what ocean are they on or close to, etc…
  3. Think about the roles and responsibilities before and during the Mystery Skype. I would suggest to make sure every student has a job. Put up a list of jobs and lets students select the task they would like to do. I would recommend they choose a different job each Mystery Skype. Check out this 5th grade newscast as they explain their different jobs during Skype calls as they are connecting to the world.

Job Suggestions by Pernille Ripp

1 Greeter who greets the incoming class by speaking about the class and goes over the rules.  At the end of the call they are also the ones that thank the other school for the call.  Once their job is done they merge into the think tank.

As many as needed Think tank students sit in a group and figure out the clues based on the information they have. 

1 Lead thinker – the boss of the think tank –  needs to be a gentle leader that can keep everyone organized and on track.  They ensure the think tank runs smoothly.

1 or 2 Questioners who ask the yes or no questions, often it is beneficial if these kids have a decent grasp of geography and can come up with questions on the fly.

1 Answerer who answers yes or no to the questions and should have a good grasp of geography.

2 Google Mappers who help with questions or find the answer.  Should be connected to think tank.

2+ Filters assessing the questions that are coming from the runners to the questioners. They have to pay close attention to what answers are and what has already been asked as the think tank often misses an answer.  They can then use their common sense to filter the best questions to the questioners.

Wall map & atlas mappers – as many kids as you want – part of the think tank but are using any map tools they can to come up with more questions. 

2 or 3 Runners who are responsible for communication between all of the different posts.

1 Supervisor who oversees the entire operation and takes notes on what works and doesn’t work.  They lead the debriefing we have after every Skype call to discuss what we need to work on and be proud of.

1 or 2 Note takers who write down all answers and questions during the call for easy access by filters and if any confusion occurs. Recommended in a Google Doc….typing skills required.

2 Recorders who take pictures/video and notes throughout the call to then write a blog post on our classroom blog after the call is done.

Here are some guideline/suggestions

  • Speak loudly and clearly
  • If you are not speaking, work in quiet whispers
  • Listen to what both sides are saying so you can track the clues
  • Do not shout out answers
  • Be polite when asking and answering
  • Remember you are part of a team
  • Ask for help when needed and give help when asked
  • Don’t over-cheer if you guess first and be happy for them if they guess first
  • Do your job and stay busy


Make sure the Sharers and Greeters never say the name of the school or city or state in their comments.

The teachers should call each other Mrs. S instead of Mrs. Smith to prevent students from looking up a teacher’s name online.

Have students turn shirts inside-out if they have the school name,  sports teams, or other identifiable information.

When Skype is opened, the name of the caller is prominently displayed.  It would be best to slide the window to the left so that the name is hidden.

Do a quick test with the teacher of your mystery class to make sure all the equipment is working properly. (Microphone, speakers, video camera, connect to the other Skype account)

Remember this is a learning experience for your class (and you). Your session will most likely not be perfect.

Send the mystery class an email afterwards thanking them and telling them any other information about your state you may not have had the chance to share.

Make sure that your scheduled time is taking into account time zone differences.  I always say, “Central Time Zone” after the time when I schedule, even if they are in our time zone.

So why do this?

  1. Builds classroom community
  2. Invites collaboration skills
  3. Grows communication skills
  4. Teaches empathy for others
  5. Utilizes innovative technology
  6. Engages every student
  7. Involves real world scenarios
  8. Creates problem solvers
  9. Improves critical thinking
  10. Educates students about places they did not know
  11. It is student led
  12. Improve geography skills

Possible Mystery Skype Questions:

1. Is your continent in the Eastern/Western Hemisphere?
2. Is your continent in the Northern/Southern Hemisphere?
3. Is your continent near the Atlantic/Pacific/Indian/Arctic Ocean?
4. Is your continent N. America/S. America/Africa/Europe/Asia/Australia/Antarctica?
5. Is it a big/small country?
6. Do you speak English as a first language?
7. Is it very hot in summer and cold in winter?
8. Is it north/south/east/west of………..?
9. Does your country border another country?
8. Are there mountains in your country?
9. Does your country have a coastline?
10. Is ………………….the capital of your country?
11. Is your country/state/province north/south/east/west of?
12. Is your city in the north/south/east/west of your country/state/province?
13. Is your city the capital of your country/state/province?

Possible Clues:

1. The time is…
2. The season is…
3. We are north/south/east/west of…
4. The beginning letter is… 
5. We also speak French/German/Spanish/Mandarin etc…

Posted in Global Connections, Map Skills, Navigating the Web, Social Studies

Google Forms + Required Questions

As I create by final for the CSP class I am teaching I know that I want to make the questions required but of course I forget to check the box consistently.

I love the feature in Google Forms, Quiz, which allows you  to make any form a quiz allowing you to select the correct answer, provide feedback, and add points to each question. I also love that you can decide to send the corrected quiz back immediately or at a later date to the student’s emails. What I do not like is that you have to click Edit Question any time you want to fix a mistake or need to go back and click the required button. It adds so much time to the task.

So instead of trying to skim through the 50 questions to see which one is not marked required I decided to check for an Add-on and of course there is one because every form creator wants this function which should already be built into Google but …. There is an easy Add-on called: All Questions Required is easy to install. In case you need a tutorial here is one from: Hopedale Public Schools – Technology Department


Posted in Google, How Do I?