What in the World is a Wordle or a Word Cloud?

I realize I have been out of the teaching loop. Maybe it's because I have moved three times in two and a half years or I've had two babies in the past year and a half that have kept me quite busy. I can barely find time to take a shower some days, let alone research new teaching tools. So as I was surfing the web during one of my rare moments of free time, I came across the word "Wordle." I wondered what in the world is a Wordle or a Word Cloud?

I researched Wordles on-line today, and I am excited to share with you my recent discovery. A Wordle is a tool that generates  “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends. By the way, there are postings literally every second in the gallery.

This is an AMAZING tool that teachers are raving about on-line. Word Clouds can be used for:

Describing a person or a literary character

Making pages of words that begin with each letter of the alphabet for an ABC book

Writing a book review  

Writing descriptive adjectives 

Describing a vocabulary word  


Practice typing spelling words

Studying key points for an exam


Making an all about me report
Listing attributes and traits

Summarizing a lesson

Making art from words in a favorite Bible verse

Creating fun thank you and greeting cards for friends or loved ones. I like this Christmas card created by a church.

I am planning to make a word cloud for my children with descriptive words that expresses each child's individuality. Here is Conley's.

Another cool feature is you can copy and paste text into the word box and a word cloud will automatically be created. For example, enter text from a historical document or a famous speech. I just copied and pasted 1 Corinthians 13.
Here is a word cloud of President Obama's 2010 State of the Union Address created by CSPAN. Notice how you can get a quick overview of a speech by looking at the words repeated the most (in larger font).
I just entered my website address into the Wordle program, and this is what was created using the most common words on it. How cool is that! 

Not only do I plan on using these word clouds in homeschooling, I am going be making word clouds with my children and framing them for teacher's gifts and Mother's Day gifts this year. How unique!

CLICK HERE to have a blast! 

Some helpful hints when using Wordle:

  • The more you type a word in the list, the larger it will appear in the Wordle. If you want one word to appear much bigger than the other words, type it three times in your list.
  • You can keep words together in Wordle if you use a tilde (~) mark between words.
  • You can select the number of words you want to appear in your Wordle.
  • You can right click a word on your Wordle to remove it.
  • You can choose the directionality of the words and even make posters using this tool. I plan on making a visual aide Wordle, and I'll share it with you on my next post.
  • The same single word won’t appear twice even if you type it twice in the word box.
  • Wordle’s default setting removes numbers. If you want numbers, go to "Language" and uncheck “Remove Numbers”.
  • You can’t make it into a specific shape but you can round corners, pick fonts, and colors.

Here are some other programs that I found that use word clouds-

This site is developed for children to use: http://www.abcya.com/word_clouds.htm

This site gives you more options than Wordle and even lets you choose your shape. 

Here are some examples:

I hope you have as much FUN as I will making word clouds!