Word Searches and Computational Thinking

Solve word search puzzles and learn about computational thinking and search algorithms. 

Puzzles are a good way of developing computational thinking. Word searches involve pattern matching. To solve them quickly an algorithm helps – essentially an adapted linear search for individual letters by scanning the grid, followed by searching round that point for the second letter, then continuing the search in that direction. Students can be set word searches and encouraged to reflect on and write down the way they are trying to solve them. They can then try to find improvements and heuristics that help solve them more quickly, encouraging the development of algorithmic thinking skills. As an alternative it can be used as a practical use of linear search.

Program search jigsaws are a variation where you must search for fragments of program syntax, rather than words, then put them together to make a working program.

Learn about:

  • search algorithms
  • linear search
  • algorithmic thinking
  • computational thinking

Print or do on the computer (and practice some IT skills)

The puzzle sheets below can be printed to do on paper, OR open the pdf in a pdf reader (ie save locally and just open the document the way you normally would) and use the highlighting tool of the reader to highlight words found.

Resources: Word Searches

Any word searches can be used. However, this session comes with computer science linked puzzle sheets that you can download:

Resources: Program Search / Program Search Jigsaws

Here are puzzle sheets where it is a program that is hidden:

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