What Is A Crossword?

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Post: What Is A Crossword?

What Is A Crossword?

Someone searching for the soil in which the amazing crossword puzzle grew would have to travel to Liverpool, England. At least that’s what most game and puzzle histories state. However, the history of the crossword is not very long, in relative terms.

A crossword puzzle has a layout of squares, most of which are blank so that the player can insert letters to try and solve the puzzle. These words are read both horizontally (across) and vertically (down). This specific layout was first published in a New York newspaper in 1913, thanks to Arthur Wynne, who hailed from Liverpool. Crossword puzzles as we know them today have roots in the game called word square or magic square.

History shows that word squares of some sort date back hundreds of years. Some records show crossword puzzles were in use in the 1800s. But Wynne is credited with creating the first puzzle that appeared in a newspaper for public distribution. Wynne’s puzzle is said to have a slightly different appearance than the one most people enjoy in newspapers and crossword collections. In fact, it was originally supposed to be called a word cross, but a typesetter’s error is said to have reversed the words.

The commonly played crossword game or puzzle is solved by reading clues provided alongside the blank grid. These clues are organized by the starting number for the word and the direction that the word will read when the letters are filled in.

For example, 35 down would have a clue for a particular word and the first letter would be placed in square number 35. These letters must be exactly as the puzzle creator intended because other letters in the word might be included in another word that reads across. Filling in the squares completely means the puzzle is solved.

Wynne continued to create crossword puzzles because the public demanded it. History shows that when the publisher thought about discontinuing the feature, readers raised enough of a cry that the feature was continued on a regular basis.

About 10 years after the first crossword puzzle or word square appeared in the New York newspaper, companies began publishing collections or magazine-style books of what then became known as “crosswords.”

A few years later other newspapers in major cities began offering crosswords, which contributed to a “crosswords craze” in the Roaring ‘20s.

The enthusiasm for crossword puzzles, as well as for other word games, has hardly died down. In fact, readers can open almost any daily newspaper today and find a crossword puzzle. Many of these are offered by syndicates, which contract with a puzzle creator and distributes the same puzzle to various papers. Crosswords challenge millions of residents of the United States each day. Millions more attempt to solve the enjoyable and educational puzzles around the world. The latest development in crosswords is the availability of crossword puzzles and other word games online.

These can be purchased individually or as part of a software purchase. Fans can download software and receive new puzzles on a regular basis.

The word cross, which became crosswords, has grown from a humble beginning to become a mania in print and on the Web.

10 Games That Could Be Good Movies

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Post: 10 Games That Could Be Good Movies / March 15, 2009

10 Games That Could Be Good Movies

Elder Scrolls Oblivion

If Peter Jackson directed this movie and the studio could give it a big budget, Oblivion would be a great medieval fantasy movie. There are too few medieval movies out there that are worth buying a ticket for, and Oblivion has the characters and storyline to be a power house, with battles that could rival the likes of The Lord of the Rings. With a lesser director, you would just get another Dungeon Siege: In the Name of the King clone.

Chrono Cross

This game didn’t get the recognition it deserved; it had all the characteristics of a great game: a colorful cast of characters, rich and convoluted story, and an ending that left you thinking. All of those can translate into a great movie, not only with the amount of action, but also on a dramatic level that delves into character development.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

There aren’t many good modern war movies today and Call of Duty could have some great action scenes, in the streets of the Middle East, or on a cargo ship in the stormy sea. Under good direction, I can see this movie being much like Black Hawk Down, which wasn’t a bad movie, just don’t cast Josh Hartnett.

Harvest Moon

Bear with me on this one; no one thinks that a farming simulation game would be fun, but it is and it’s very addictive. It would only work if it stayed close to the games and there were festivals and a number of women to potentially marry. To avoid any boring farm work scenes, you can always have a montage.

Grand Theft Auto IV

While there are enough cut scenes in the game that could make up a movie, it would be interesting to watch a movie about a guy comes to a new place and tries to make ends meet by any means necessary. It would be like Goodfellas meets a generic smash and grab British movie, sign me up.


I’m talking about the one on PSX, this would be a great adventure movie, where the kid starts out playing in the streets with a wooden stick and ends up saving the world. This game stirs the restless spirit in all of us with scenes of distant lands and sailing on the high seas.

Wild Arms

Wild Arms makes the western theme even cooler by adding interesting characters each with their own style and swagger. Any movie that has a likeable cast and cool shootouts is ok in my book.


Brought to you by the same people who made Oblivion (the 3rd Fallout anyway), a movie would be a great addition to the franchise, especially to those who played the games. The Fallout series has so many great nuances it would be a treat to see people walking around drinking nuka-colas and popping buffout in the Capital Wasteland or New Reno.

Baldur’s Gate

Numerous games in the series, books, and tons of other merchandise attest to the popularity of this franchise. Like Oblivion, this game is set in a medieval land and is any D&D fan’s delight and the movie would have to make sure to stay true to its D&D roots.


I read somewhere that it was the most costly video game to make of all time, not sure whether or not that was before or after Haze came out, but Shenmue brought martial arts back into video games and inspired many a gamer to pick up the sport. There were some great fight scenes in the game that could translate into a cinematic gem and I always enjoy seeing ancient Chinese masters handing down life lessons to wild-eyed pupils; as long as I don’t have to watch Ryo work at the docks.

Improving Vocabulary

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Heather's Thoughts
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Post: Improving Vocabulary / March 12, 2009

Improving Vocabulary

Since we have been discussing vocabulary for the past couple of days, I decided to go out and find ways in which we can improve ours and our students vocabulary skills. On this website, http://www.christian-mommies.com/ageless/school-and-homeschooling/12-ideas-for-improving-vocabulary/, the author, Rachel Lower has twelve suggestions in which we can improve volcabulary.

Improving Vocabulary Idea #1 Use Vocabulary SoftwareOne of the most effective ways to improve your vocabulary is to use vocabulary building software such as Ultimate Vocabulary. Software has many advantages over older methods, such as books and audio courses. For example, software can use many different learning strategies, rather than being limited to reading or listening. Also, software is great for keeping track of which words you want to learn. When you come across a word you don’t know, I recommend adding it to a list in your vocabulary software. C'Moms has tested and recommends this Vocabulary Building Software.

Improving Vocabulary Idea #2Crossword PuzzlesYou can find crossword puzzles for a variety of ages. For older children I would suggest the basic daily crossword puzzle in the newspaper, with the help of mom, dad or an older sibling. Or all three! They will pick up on many words, some of which crossword puzzles tend to use often. It also provides for a good memory and possibility a habit or hobby that keeps them sharp when their hairs turn grey and they need false teeth. When there are missing words no one can pin point they could search for the answer online or off line, or just wait until the answers come the next morning. If you don?t get a newspaper, there are many good crossword books. Just make sure to look through them first and see that the questions are not to hard and the answers not to obscure. http://www.dictionary.com/fun/crossword/For older children and adults:The New York Times Daily Crossword PuzzlesThe New York Times Easy Crossword PuzzlesEspecially for younger children:Children's Word Games and Crossword Puzzles, for Ages Seven to NineMore Outrageous Crossword Puzzles and Word Games for KidsBible Crossword Challenge, Big Print Bible Puzzles: 23 Crosswords Uses a Good Mix of Scripture Clues and General Knowledge CluesMy First Crossword Puzzle BookFor when you get stuck:Webster's New World (TM) Crossword Puzzle DictionaryThe New York Times Crossword Puzzle Dictionary

Improving Vocabulary Idea #3 Word SearchWord search puzzles are a great way to increase vocabulary. Since the words presented in each puzzle have a common bond, they will be chained together in your memory. The definitions will be learned in that way. Next time you think of chrysanthemum, you'll think of dandelion and rose and remember it is a flower. You can find word searched for all ages. Preschoolers can look for 'dog' or individual letters. You can easily make your own. You could present a spelling list or vocabulary list in this way. This, like crosswords, may also become a habit that will keep the mind sharp in old age. My own grandmother does this. I remember her word searches when I was a little girl and last time I visited her she pulled her booklet out and started one. Good habits these are. You can find specialized word search books, i.e. presidents, animals to go along with your lesson plan.http://www.dictionary.com/fun/wordsearch/The New Mammoth Book of Seek-A-WordThe 2nd New Mammoth Book of Seek-A-WordThe Original Mammoth Book of Seek-a-WordThe Jumbo Bible Wordsearch CollectionEspecially for younger children:Great Word Search Puzzles for KidsEasy Search-A-Word Puzzles (Dover Little Activity Books)

Improving Vocabulary Idea #4Online Word Games http://www.wgbh.org/radio/saysyou/http://games.yahoo.com/games/login?page=lthttp://games.yahoo.com/games/login?page=wwhttp://www.billsgames.com/wordscram/http://www.vocabulary.com/ (Many cool puzzles)http://www.wolinskyweb.net/word.htm

Improving Vocabulary Idea #5Note padYour child may find it handy to have a pen/pencil and pad of paper next to her when she reads. This way, she can write down any word (w/page number) that she does not know. When she is done reading she can define them, go back and read them in the context the book gave them and hopefully have some or all of them stick in her head. She could make it a point to include them in any projects surrounding the novel.

Improving Vocabulary Idea #6Off line Word GamesEnglish Teachers Book of Instant Word GamesMensa for Kids: 75 Word Puzzles

Improving Vocabulary Idea #7Board and Card GamesThere are many brilliant board games that focus on vocabulary. The most popular would be Scrabble. TIP: If the cost is daunting, perhaps you and a few other home schooling moms can work together to form a game library OR you could try making your own versions. Just look for directions to these games on the net and you can come up with your own ideas. Balderdash, for instance, you can picks words out and make fake definitions just as in balderdash. Then reading the word and the definitions -- the player must pick out the real definition. With some cardboard and markers you could make a scrabble game. Here is a fun filled list of vocabulary building board games:Scrabble * Scrabble Jr. * Balderdash * Wheel of fortune * Finish Lines * Scatt * Upwords * Bethump * Outburst * Boogle * Smart Mouth * Guesstures * Comotion * Mad Gab * Bible Outburst * A to Z * Outburst Jr. * Quiddler * Password * Boogle Jr. * Concentration * Malarky * Hangman (Great way to teach the word Aardvark -- that's how I learned it!) * A to Z Jr.

Improving Vocabulary Idea #8TalkingDon't forget that the first words your child ever said were from hearing YOU say them. That principle with keep on throughout life. When we hear someone saying a word again and again, it sticks. So don't forget to work on your own vocabulary -- and talk to your child! Have conversations. Get them talking. They will be listening. Ah! And don't forget to watch your language. Kids pick up on bad words just as easily.

Improving Vocabulary Idea #9ReadingReading does increase vocabulary. Don't forget to enrich your children's lives with a love for reading. Also reading newspapers and magazine articles can help improve vocabulary.

Improving Vocabulary Idea #10Latin and Greek RootsThe idea is to learn Latin and Greek root words. In this way, many words your child will run into can be "figured out". "Evince", they will recall evidently and evidence, "evi" seems to be a connection. What do those words have in common? Proof. Having some knowledge of how words are built and Latin roots can increase vocabulary and the ability to figure out what a word could mean when they don't have a dictionary handy. This is definitely more for older children, but when you start teaching vocabulary it can be introduced to their own level in small doses. http://www.wordfocus.com/Examples:graph (Greek) to write graphic, photography audi (Latin) to hear audible, auditoriumVocab-AbilityEnglish Words from Latin and Greek ElementsNtc's Dictionary of Latin and Greek Origins: A Comprehensive Guide to the Classical Origins of English Words Dictionary of Word OriginsThe Merriam-Webster New Book of Word HistoriesChambers Dictionary of Etymology

Improving Vocabulary Idea #11"What's that?"A young child will often ask, "What's that?!". Besides your answers, books like LeapStart Vocabulary Book: Richard Scarry Things To Know or videos like Bee Smart Baby, Vocabulary Builder 1 would certainly be of interest. Before they start asking, you can come out and tell them yourself, explain what they are doing ("you're eating cheerios"), sing to them, talk to them, makes all sorts of noises with them to help them develop the ability to speak certain syllables. For the older kids Vocabulary Cartoons: Building an Educated Vocabulary With Visual Mnemonics provides the same kind of visual aids. The library would have many. Later on, "What's that?!" still applies though the child may be less likely to ask. The idea is to provide opportunities for them to ask or simply be told. Something as simple as a field trip to the zoo. You can tell them, or have them read the signs, which animals are which. They will learn reading about the animals, words like "habitat", "diet", etc. They can learn names of animals, along with basic zoology. Museums also increase vocabulary. When you read the labels you'll find many tidbits. If you haven't painted much with your child yet and trip to the art gallery can have them learn words like "oils" "acryllics" "impressionism". Historical museums will introduce old tools and their names along with history. Exposing children to new places full of new things will kick of the "What's that?!" in them. My husband even asked me at the zoo, "What are those rabbit like animals over there?" Even we adults have this innate curiosity. Last year I learned many tree and plant names, and can identify many of them still, just by browsing the local garden centers.

Improving Vocabulary Idea #12Text Books and QuizzesYou can find a whole range of vocabulary work books to learn from, such as Vocabulary Workshop: Level A. These would be best used for the soon to be college bound teenagers. They are not as much 'fun', but short and productive word lists and quizzes. The word quiz in Readers Digest is a good example of a text book - like quiz. You can make your own 'fill in the blank' and 'match the word to the definition' quizzes. You could have your child make them, in fact, and then a week later have them answer them to see if they remember. The process of making the quiz is how they learn the word. Makes your work easier! I actually learned my Latin prefixes and suffixes from a work book. If I recall correctly it had twenty words in each lesson. I had to define them and then fill in the blanks into sentences. I enjoyed them. I was fifteen then.
Improving Vocabulary EXTRA TIP:Word of the DayWord of the Day is a handy FREE tool from Dictionary.com. If you sign up you get a word of the day in your email, every day as the name implies. The word, how to pronounce it, definition, examples and origins are included in each email. The archives can be found at http://www.dictionary.com/wordoftheday/archive/. The words ranging from more common words such as 'aggressive' to left often used words like 'tocsin'. The general age range would be around twelve and up. As an adult, I have enjoyed improving my vocabulary with these emails. I recently caught myself using a word I had memorized from the Word of the Day in my everyday conversation. Other online words of the day can be found at:http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/mwwod.pl Merriam-Webster and http://www.wordsmith.org/awad/ Wordsmith.org.http://www.mywordaday.com/.If you want to pick out your own word of the day I would suggest browsing through the archive, the dictionary or finding words in the Thesaurus to use. A good book to take words from is Word Smart: Building an Educated Vocabulary.It only takes two or three minutes to absorb the information. You and yours will find yourselves using some of the words. Remember, they will probably only "stick" if they are used.

I personally love all these ideas, and I think they will definately work with your students because they are fun ideas. All these ideas appeal to different students. Also you can also have a word of the day in your class, it can be in any class, it doesn't just have to be a reading class or an english. With the word of the day you can give your students incentives to use it. For example, you can give out homework passes to the first student in each class to properly use it in a sentence. I also found another website that would be really helpful for teachers on the elementary school level, http://www.time4learning.com/readingpyramid/vocabulary.htm.

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