How to Create a Wheel of Fortune Puzzle

By Ginger Voight
Wheel, Fortune, the TV version, the traditional child's word game
The swindler and the executioner image by Hunta from Fotolia.com

Wheel of Fortune is the long-running television game show based on the simple child's hangman puzzle game. Spaces represent letters in the puzzle, and players must guess the missing letters in order to solve the puzzle and win the game. There are several options to play this game at home, including board games and computer downloads. The process of creating the puzzles, however, is fairly straightforward. This enables you to play this game anywhere at any time, with very little materials required. This makes it an easy addition to family game night or virtually any type of classroom.

Assemble your materials. You can use pen and paper, or for a more ecological alternative use a dry erase board and marker so that you can easily wipe the puzzles away once solved. This option is especially helpful if you create your Wheel of Fortune puzzles in a classroom environment as part of a teaching curriculum.

Determine your category. Wheel of Fortune creates puzzles based on themes and categories such as "Movie Character," "Food and Drink," and "Phrase." Other categories from the television program include "Before and After," "Same Name" and "People and Places." Write the category at the top of the page or board to give your contestants their first hint how to solve the puzzle. If you are using this as a party game, have everyone participate in creating categories that can be drawn out of a hat by whoever is making the puzzle. This adds a challenge to the person creating the puzzle as well.

Decide on your puzzle. A movie character might be Edward Scissorhands or Captain Jack Sparrow. Food and drink could be chicken cacciatore or strawberry margarita. Phrases could be anything from "The early bird gets the worm," to "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." The more words in your puzzle and the more vague your category make the puzzle more challenging for your players.

Underscore the blanks or use blocks to represent each letter for each word in your puzzle. Separate the words significantly so that your contestants can determine any spaces in your puzzle. This will lessen any confusion. Since these blocks won't light up like the ones on the TV show, write down your puzzle on a piece of paper that no one else but you can see, so that you can keep track of the positions of the letters.

Play the game. If you have a spinner available, use that to help keep track of any scoring. If you don't have a spinner, you can attribute a value to each letter your contestants successfully guess, and keep track of it either on your paper or your dry erase board. As each player has a successful guess, he can try to guess the puzzle on his turn. If he guesses wrong, the next player gets a turn.