Friday, May 08, 2015


Have you visited the website Wordle,net?  Wordle creates word clouds with word you or your kids can enter.  One the the things I love about it is the ability to customize the colors, fonts, and layouts. You can save the Wordle as a PNG file or print it.  

I have used Wordle in the past to create word clouds to use with my class.  I would frequently use these word clouds as introductions to a lesson or as activators to get them thinking.  This year I began having the kids make their own!  And they are loving it!

Our first project was an activity that combined our units on the moon and poetry.  We read a number of poems on the moon including "The Moon" by Robert Lewis Stevenson, and "The Moon Was But a Chin of Gold" by Emily Dickinson.  The kids then worked on writing poems that compared the moon to another object.  Part of this assignment was to create a list of words to describe the moon.

We then went to the computers and  The kids entered their list of words into the "Wordle" create screen.  One of the features I like is being able to make one word larger by typing that word into the list multiple times.  This way we can make 'moon' bigger in the final word cloud.

(Wordle does need Java to run properly so be sure you have it installed before you begin and since it needs Java, it won't work on Google Chrome)

Now comes the fun part!  Creating the Wordle.  Once the kids have all their words in the box, they simply click "GO".  This will create the word cloud.  Then, from the drop down menus, they can change the layout (for some reason it tends to create a vertical word cloud first on a horizontal screen -- confusing for the kids).  They can also change the layout of the words by clicking the "Randomize" button.  In essence this creates a new word cloud with the same words.   The picture on the left is the word cloud that was made after clicking "go."  A few clicks of the randomize button created the one on the right.

Clicking randomize not only changes the position of the words, it also changes the background, the font and the color scheme.  Some kids love this process so much, they will do it forever.

Once they find a layout they like they can move on to changing the fonts and color scheme.  They can do this through the buttons above the word cloud.  They will want to stick with the "font"  and "color" buttons.  The font button is self-explanatory -- it lets them pick a font for their words.  The down side is the font menu doesn't show the true font, so the kids have to apply it each time to see the font, which can be time consuming for those kids who want to see every choice!

And finally, picking a color palette.  I showed my second graders how to create their own palette.  On the drop down menu, they simply go down to "Edit Custom Palette."  This will bring up tons of color choices from which they can pick four.

Now that the Wordle is complete it is time to save or print it, or as we did...both. You can print right from the screen or you can click "Save as PNG"  Be sure when they save, they keep the PNG at the end.  I discovered the hard way when they all renamed their projects and deleted the PNG ending.  It will save but not in that format.

And then it was May with Mother's Day fast approaching.  We decided to create a Wordle for our mom's.  Before getting to the computers, They created a list of words about their moms so they would be ready to type.  They were such hard workers getting those word clouds just perfect for their moms. After printing them, the kids then glued them into construction paper cards and decorated the cards. They loved them, and I'm sure the moms will too!