March 26th, 2007 | Published in Google Docs
My six-year-old came home from school the other day asking me all kinds of questions about this word search puzzle he got from his teacher. It had a theme based on one of our favorite authors (Dr. Seuss) and had that tell-tale grainy look of something that has been photo-copied over and over (for several years no doubt) -- and he loved it!
Like most kindergartners on a mission, he is relentless in his pursuit of information: "How did she make this?", "How did she get the words and letters in there?", "I can tell it was done on a computer, Daddy - do we have the program that makes these?" -- and it didn't stop there.
"Google Spreadsheets!" I said with honest enthusiasm. "Are you kidding?" he said, with a hopeful grin. So we quickly pulled up his Google Docs & Spreadsheets account (yes, he has one - on his own domain under Google Apps!) and we created a spreadsheet... It was a simple grid of squares. We filled in each box with a single letter until all the words he wanted were there - actually, just check it out yourself, below!
(yes! you can embed a published spreadsheet in a blog entry!)
We printed a bunch of copies for him and his friends and even created and printed a teacher's version (with all the hidden words highlighted in yellow). It was perfect!
Now I just have to teach him the API so he can auto-generate the word search puzzle! Nah... I'll wait until he's in the first grade - he needs a break ;)