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Parents often look for ways to keep children involved in learning, particularly during the summer. These efforts by parents are essential, as educational research shows that the typical child can lose a month or more of learning over the summer months.
Building word clouds is a fun, easy, and learning-filled way to support reading, comprehension, and vocabulary. A word cloud is a visual way to creatively group words or terms together and built around just about anything, such as a story, an idea, or an activity. It can be used as an introduction to a lesson or as a closing activity. The great thing about a word cloud is that the sky is the limit!
You can build a word cloud with paper and markers or crayons or a word processor. Or, you can engage students quickly by using one of the many free websites available online. You will find some examples of user-friendly word cloud builders on the Tagxedo, ABCya, and EdWordle websites.
Word clouds do not take a large amount of time for preparation. They also can be used for any age level. To support reading comprehension skills, it can be as simple as leafing through a story and listing the vocabulary words, usually in bold print. A more creative approach would be for the child to pick a subject, such as a family pet, a poem, or a favorite sport, and then list every word that comes to mind relating to that selection. For an older child, technical or typically uninteresting terminology can come to life with a word cloud.
Once the child has selected the words, the next step is to decide which of the words should be emphasized. Kids can give special attention to words by using them several times or by changing font sizes, styles, and colors. It’s also fun to play with the way the words are positioned in the cloud. Backgrounds are also usually an option in the Web versions, as is the actual shape of the cloud. Imagine a word cloud about “Fido,” shaped like a puppy...fluffy, silly, bouncy, loving, adorable, cuddly.
Make summer activities fun with word clouds. In the end, they can be a great learning tool and visual snapshot of what children know, learn, and imagine.