building schoolwide literacy Share

TeachersFirst - Getting Started with Word Cloud

Makes visual displays of words in multi-color, multi-size graphic images, shared as images or by URL.


  • vocabulary development
  • making predictions
  • summarizing

Demonstrate an understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds (phonemes). Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words. Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases. Sort words into categories (e.g., colors, clothing) to gain a sense of the concepts the categories represent. Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts, including using frequently occurring conjunctions to signal simple relationships.


  1. Start here:
  2. A word cloud is a graphical representation of word frequency.
  3. First, click the arrow and then the word “Start.”
  4. Students will type their words into the interactive tool to create a word cloud.
  5. Additionally, text can also be pasted into the box.
  6. Then press the arrow button to view the word cloud generated.
  7. Click on Color to change the text and background colors.
  8. Layout will adjust the shape and format of the words.
  9. Additionally, the font can be changed as well.
  10. When finished, students can print or save their work by clicking the three lines on the Menu. This opens a drop-down menu with options.


  • Use word clouds as learning tools and presentation visuals.
  • Create vocabulary reviews using word clouds.
  • Word clouds can help students that may be visually overwhelmed to experience language in a new way.
  • Use word clouds as part of your anticipatory set.
  • Utilize this resource to help bring attention to specific unknown vocabulary words students may have skipped over in their own reading.
  • Model for students how to create a word cloud. Allow learners to work together in small groups to design one and then eventually allow students to work on them independently, showing them how to save or print their work.
  • Word clouds are quick to create and have many uses. Be creative and think outside of the box!


First Grade:

  • Build a word cloud using words for time and position such as first, second, third, and next. The more frequently a word is used when building the word cloud, the larger it appears on the final product. Students could add the word “second” twice and “third” three times, etc...
  • Build word clouds for vocabulary development. Students can use Dolch words, rhyming words, or words using a decodable pattern (i.e. -at family words). Each word would be typed only once as this type of word cloud is a modification of the original and will not be built based on word frequency.
  • Utilize word clouds to focus on specific vocabulary words. Ask students to write the synonyms or antonyms of an assigned word. Focus on one part of speech and ask learners to create a word cloud with all action verbs, all proper nouns, etc…
  • In science, literacy instruction can be continued using ABCya Word Clouds by creating a word cloud about the parts of a plant. Each part should be represented by a single word. Once again, word frequency is not a factor. Students will enter each part only one time.
  • In mathematics, students can create a word cloud based on a shape they are assigned. Each word must be an example of the assigned shape (clock, tire, button, plate, coin, Frisbee, doughnut, pizza). Each example is entered once. The assigned shape, in our example a circle, should be entered 3 times.

Second Grade:

  • Continue building word clouds to support vocabulary development. Consider the following concepts: synonyms, overused words in a student writing piece, antonym pairs, homonyms, and key vocabulary terms. Build word clouds as part of phonemic awareness instruction (i.e. 4-syllable words, 3-syllable words, etc.).
  • Use word clouds as an engaging way to practice spelling words. Have students put words in a word cloud that will be part of spelling tests and vocabulary investigations. Brainstorm words in small groups or turn and talk to a partner to create a word cloud. Share with the whole group.
  • Keep literacy instruction happening in science with word clouds of a food chain/web. Allow the font size of animals/plants to be determined by where they are in the linear network/pyramid 🡪 by tropic level.
  • Support social studies content acquisition and literacy instruction by having students create word clouds of objects on a specific given map or section of a map. In social studies, students can also create a word cloud of different workers and their jobs in a specific field (i.e. community helpers).

Third Grade:

  • As review, practice or formative assessment, have students create word clouds on the parts of speech. Make separate word clouds of examples for each classification (noun, verb, adjective, etc.). The assigned classification should be entered those most times to ensure it is the most visible (biggest) word in the graphic.
  • Have students discuss how word clouds might differ between a fiction and non-fiction reading (or between newspaper, novel, or magazine writing). Students then create word clouds by pasting text from assigned reading types, comparing them and reflecting on initial discussion.
  • After discussing a new concept, reviewing information, or reflecting on a previous activity, ask students to choose one or two words that were challenging. Use this to focus on clarifying and enriching their thinking.
  • Vary word cloud design to include examples of two types of terms/concepts. Identify which should be the larger and why. Use this in social studies and science for concepts such as wants/needs or consumers/producers.
  • In science, students can identify animals in a specific biome or words that describe the biome (biome name should appear largest). Post word clouds with real photos. In math, create word clouds that display fractions (i.e. three different insects, two mammals, four fish, and five birds). Ask students to write fractions of each animal type.

Fourth Grade:

  • Provide students a fun opportunity for analyzing, exploring, and discussing word choice, meaning an/or vocabulary. Students will attempt to convey the meaning of poetry through a word cloud image. Using a poem (or song lyric) that resonates with students and/or relates to a current topic being studied, have students create images that illustrate the author’s word choice.
  • Use an image as a prompt. Have students make a list of words they could use to describe the picture and then create word cloud from that list.
  • Add spark to writing by asking students to create words clouds with crystal clear adjectives or verbs. Encourage them to avoid overused and boring words, and instead replace them with ones that will add details to their writing and presentations.
  • When students are studying state history or geography, they can create a word cloud using the Important sites in (state).
  • Have each student paste in a chapter or a passage from a class novel or their favorite book to generate a word cloud. Then they will write a summary or story using the top ten keywords.
  • In Health and P.E., have students keep a food journal of what they eat for a specified period of time. Students will be using ABCya Word Cloud to create a frequency graph. If they eat potato chips or raisins three times they record that food and number. After the journaling activity, students will use the data to generate a word cloud of their diet. Students should use the image to discuss their food choices.

Fifth Grade:

  • Create word collections that represent favorite words and expressions from literature. For example, make a word cloud for words that mean “soft” or words that create an image of soft (bunny, cloud). Be sure the reference word is the largest and placed centrally.
  • Use word clouds to study character traits. Make a list of traits for a specific character. Then come up with a list of synonyms or antonyms. Feed the chosen words into ABCya Word Cloud.
  • Choose key words from the text of three to five articles about the same subject through a word cloud generator to reveal trends and to help in understanding a subject from various angles.
  • When discussing current events, infuse a media literacy discussion by having students create word clouds using source materials with opposing views. Compare and contrast the word clouds. Remember to discuss source bias and credibility.
  • In mathematics, ask students to visualize statistics in a word cloud. Students can take a percentage, reduce it and then generate a word cloud that represents the number. Other concepts that lend themselves to visual representation include Powers, comparing decimals, and converting units.