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Writing: Word Choice

Word Clouds


Today's Snack: Here's a treat that is almost like a cloud. You might start this one day in your after-school group, and then have your leader or a student volunteer bring it home to complete the process, and back to the group to serve. A "granita" is an Italian dessert that is like a frozen flavored ice drink. These are "Minty Lemon Granitas":


4 C. cold water

40 mint leaves, washed

6 lemons

6 oz. sugar

1 egg white


It really helps to use a glass lemon juicer for this. Squeeze and then strain the juice from the lemons. Keep the rinds.

Pour the water into a saucepan. Add the lemon rinds and sugar. Heat gently and stir until sugar dissolves. Then bring mixture to boil. Boil for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat. Add lemon juice and mint leaves. Leave it alone to "infuse," or soak up flavors, for 15 minutes.

Strain into a shallow dish. Place in the freezer for 3 to 4 hours. Remove dish from freeze. Break icy pieces into flakes with a fork. Return to freezer.

Repeat this breaking-up process several more times, until the mixture has the consistency of loose ice crystals.

Beat egg white 'til it holds its shape. Then fold into the granite, barely stirring.

Serve in chilled glasses (clear plastic ones work fine if you don't want to use real glass). Top each one with a sprig of mint leaves and a twist of lemon rind. Yields 6 servings.






Internet access | dictionary and thesaurus for each student if available



A "word cloud" is a collection of related words that all connect to the same theme or idea. You can do your own by hand, or you can use a special computer program that will create a typographical word cloud for you, automatically.


Word clouds are a work of art using words. The key word that you want to emphasize is displayed much larger than the other words, and then the computer tilts some words vertically or horizontally, and arranges them in a pleasing manner.


If you want a word to appear a lot larger than the others, simply type it in several more times than the other words. So you might want to type in your key word 10 times, and then three secondary ones 4 times each, and all the other words just one time each.


The idea is to see how many words you can generate that all relate to the key word. That'll show you how many options for word choices you have in a paper or essay about a particular subject. You don't have to just keep using the same one or two words - you have a whole world of words from which to choose!


This activity is also good for showing you how words in a paragraph or a story are like tiny water droplets in a cloud - each one is a part of a greater whole.


Word clouds are a great way to build your vocabulary and study how words relate to one another.


An IBM employee created the technology to allow you to type in a set of words for your own word cloud, and either post it on the website, or take a "screenshot" of it and print it out to keep.


You might brainstorm ideas for word clouds before you get started, and have all students do the same theme, or have everybody come up with a unique idea.


For example, you could do a word cloud on favorite foods . . . things that are ideal . . . types of sounds . . . a place for a dream vacation . . . and on and on.


Here's the website. If a dictionary and/or thesaurus are available, they'll be a great help, too.


Go make a word cloud that will "rain" creativity!



By Susan Darst Williams Writing 2010

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