If you haven’t yet discovered Wordle.net, you are in for a treat! Wordle is a free, online “toy” for creating colorful word clouds from text or websites. The resulting image shows the most-used words in terms of size: larger words are those used more often.

Wordle offers many possibilities for educational use. For example, this term each of my students in Creative Thinking wrote at least five problems that might work for their final project (problems that they would use creative thinking techniques to solve). I collected the nearly 150 responses, which resulted in this Wordle word cloud (click on images for larger views):

HU494 Problems Wordle Winter 2012

Sharing the most-used terms visually with the class in this way can result in a productive discussion about common problems and how to begin to make connections between them.

Wordles can be fun and thought-provoking for personal uses, as well. In my ongoing project of transcribing the diaries of my great-aunt Hattie, I am slowly making my way through the 1920s, so I thought it would be interesting to create Wordles for the first six years of her diaries, 1920-1925, since I have all of those entries as complete text. The results are below. I removed some common terms that wouldn’t be very informative (e.g., Mr., p.m., days of the week and months). Note that in the late summer of 1923, Hattie and Will moved from near Spencer, Nebraska to HIdden Timber, South Dakota:

1920 Wordle

Hattie’s Diary, 1920

1921 Wordle

Hattie’s Diary, 1921

1922 Wordle

Hattie’s Diary, 1922

1923 Wordle

Hattie’s Diary, 1923

1924 Wordle

Hattie’s Diary, 1924

1925 Wordle

Hattie’s Diary, 1925

What fun can you have with Wordle today? Hint: You can also type in URLs of blogs.