I was introduced to words in the first grade in a rigid way. We were given a list of words to memorize and had a spelling test on Friday. During the week, we went to a separate corner of the classroom in small groups and read to our teacher. Her lips were always pinched together with wrinkles circling all around.
Teacher didn’t smile. Teacher didn’t laugh.
Teacher taught ridiculous words like “said.” Teacher made us write “a’s” and “g’s”, while clutching huge pencils too big for our little hands, different from the letters in the books. Teacher wrote the words on ugly tan poster-sized paper with an angry black marker and pinned them to the roller shades pulled down over the windows. The words shut out the glorious Montana Big Sky, bright blue with huge, fluffy, white clouds, and showed only the concrete retaining wall and the asphalt playground.
The illustrations made up for the ugliness of learning words with a cranky teacher. I loved Sally and repeated those ridiculous phrases over and over for the joy of looking at the pictures.
During our spelling tests we were to never, ever, ever, turn around and peek at the lists. That was cheating. During one spelling test, I had a moment of panic over the word “mother.” I knew I shouldn’t cheat, I couldn’t cheat, but I wasn’t sure, and feared making a mistake.
I heard gurgling from the back of the room. Teacher left her big, brown desk went to the far back corner. Shawn had thrown up all over his desk. Since we all had to turn around to stare at our poor classmate who dared to be sick in teacher’s class, I took the teeniest, weeniest peek at the list.
Phew. I had spelled “mother” correctly. But, I’ve carried the guilt of cheating the rest of my life.
Somewhere along the line, I learned words were an adventure. They could form stories and take me places outside of my cozy, tree-lined neighborhood in Helena, Montana.
Somewhere along the line, I began loving words.
Now, in my middle-aged years – did I really just call myself middle-aged? – I am playing with my words.
Look, look. See Mindy’s COOL TOOL. You can play with your words. It is fun.
Tagul Clouds is a fun way to play with your words because if you make something cool enough to keep, you can turn it into a t-shirt or a mug. You have to sign-in, but they require only a name and email. For now we’re going to learn the basics.
Look, Reader, look. See the choices?
See Mindy type in writer words.
Mindy skipped the next block down, FILTER COMMON WORDS, because she typed in exactly the words she wanted.If you had used a URL and it pulled up every word, you could easily CLEAR ALL and eliminate all these words, or highlight one and click on the sign.
Mindy said, “I like clouds. Look, look. Look up at the cloud.”
Mindy chose a font that looked writery. Yes, that’s not in the Fun with Dick and Jane reader, or any other reader. Mindy makes up her own words.
Look, Reader. See the colors? Colors are pretty. First click on RANDOM to drop down the box. You click on the ones you want. The adds a color. The takes away a color.
This is fun for Mindy. Are you having fun? Fun, fun, fun.
To make your words of art, click on VISUALIZE. It’s a big kid word, but you can do it. Go, Reader, go!
Mindy had a problem. What writer wants to be reminded it’s only a DRAFT and not a NOVEL?
Mindy clicked VISUALIZE again to change it. Mindy is still sad, sad, sad. Mindy tried again and again and again.
Mindy clicked until she conquered.
Lightbulb! Mindy is happy. That “W” means “weight” as in, how much do you want this word to weigh? More weight, bigger size. Mindy was tired of the cloud and switched to the star.
Look, Reader, Look! Look at my star. My star is nice. I like my star. Mindy used Snipping Tool to save this in her picture file. Mindy didn’t want to save it in their gallery. You need Snipping Tool. Snipping Tool is good.
Make cloud art of your words with Tagul.
Mindy tried again. She used the URL from her blog. Mindy not happy. She tried to remove her last name. It isn’t a right click to delete, it brought her to shop.
She doesn’t want the free Leonard Peltier shirt, although his story makes her sad. Mindy is sad, very sad. Mindy goes back to work.
Mindy typed in words she didn’t want in and clicked to add them to the big box. Then Mindy clicked .
Mindy is happy. This is good enough.
Look, look. Mindy typed in John 3:16. She is happy. She is very, very, very, happy. See Mindy smile.
Ever since Mindy couldn’t write “mother” she has had Writer’s Block. It is a Big Problem. Look at Mindy. Mindy can’t write. Mindy typed in lotsa sad words.
Mindy saved to her computer with the (PGN) option. She fixed it with PicMonkey by adding her watermark and a border. It’s easy. Mindy likes monkeys.
Mindy also saved it to her cloud on Tagul. Mindy is going to show you something hard.
You can do this. Try, try. Try hard.
You can’t upload this like a regular picture and keep it interactive. You must CLICK GRAB & SHARE. Then COPY the HTML code. That’s the stuff in the box that looks like alphabet soup. Be brave, Reader, be brave. If Mindy can do it, you can do it.
In WordPress click on text. Find the spot you want the graphic and PASTE the html code. Click back on visual and you will see only a yellow box. Hit preview to see if it worked.
Look, look. Look at the Word Clouds Mindy made. Go, Reader, Go. Go to Tagul Clouds and make your own.
(If you’d like an advanced Tagul tutorial, click here.)