September 18, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Word Clouds

Welcome to...

What is Throwback Thursday? How does it work, you might ask? Simply look through your PURR-fect Previous Posts, perhaps a particular favorite of yours, and re-post it! Then add the TBT badge to your post and include your link below! Purr-fectly easy and simple! Your post doesn't have to be from LOOOONNNGGG ago; it can be from last month or even earlier this week. And if you don't have a post to share, perhaps an old photo or two from WAY BACK will do! Even a favorite pin is PURR-fect! Just join in the Throwback fun!

This post first appeared on The Teacher's Desk 6 on April 8, 2013. I hadn't yet learned how to link graphics with a clickable web address, but I had figured out how to embed a Pinterest pin and a YouTube video.

I just had to blog about word clouds. I am WILD about them! 

I discovered them several years ago and have used them in my classroom, both for decoration and for instruction, ever since. If you're not familiar with what a word cloud is take a trip over to Projects by Jen. She's best known for her Guess the Wordle daily word cloud. Each day she posts a brand new word cloud for students all over the world to puzzle out.

My fivers LOVE this! It's the way we begin each Language Arts class. In addition, Jen has loads of tips and tricks for using and working with word clouds, including additional add-on programs to get REALLY creative with them.

There are many websites at which you can make word clouds. Each has its pro's and con's. I recommend trying them all to find the one perfect for you. Here is a listing of some of the more popular cloud generators on the internet:

One of my favorite ways of using word clouds is at the beginning of the school year. During the first week of school, I always assign my sixers to write a single paragraph autobiography. I teach mini-lessons about paragraph formation, the six traits of writing, editing, writing process, word processing, etc. Once they have completed their paragraph, including saving it on a flash drive, they upload it to, the word cloud generator that I prefer. The ensuing word clouds are printed, framed, and displayed outside out classroom. Additionally, I take a digital photo of each word cloud and compile them into a video that I run for Open House, parent conferences, and any time throughout the year that we have something special going on in the building.

This year I had my fivers complete Word Cloud Book Reports. What fun they had! Plus there was some great thinking going on: decisions about what words to include, what not to include, colors and fonts that helped convey a particular meaning. The finished product made for an attractive hallway display that sparked a lot of comments from parents and visitors. If you're interested in doing this project with your class, it is available in my TpT Store. The link is listed below the graphic. In the packet are directions, websites, suggestions, and two planning sheets.

Jen no longer hosts the Wordle a Day website; however, I do still use her materials. Before she closed that portion of her site her followers were able to purchase her wordles for use offline. Unfortunately, the materials are no longer available. I still have my students make their autobiography wordles and I still use the Word Cloud Book Report. In fact, my sixers are working on the book report right now. Here is one that Hannah completed just today. Can you guess what book she read?



  1. What a great throwback, Angela. I have dabbled with word clouds in the past (I won the staffroom school art competition for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee with one two years ago!) but not really seriously used them so the site you recommend is an excellent introduction to doing this. It's lovely to be inspired - thank you so much for this :-)
    Special Teaching at Pempi's Palace

  2. This is a super idea! I love the idea of using a word cloud for students to guess what the word/topic is! I will definitely check out your word cloud book report. :)

    Mrs. Spangler in the Middle


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