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Pandemic Puzzle

Vocabulary and concepts related to the COVID-19 pandemic

Pandemic Puzzle
  • Grades:
  • Length: 30 Minutes

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This word search puzzle focuses on terminology and vocabulary associated with the coronavirus pandemic. It can be used as a stand-alone activity or to extend any other curriculum lessons.

Teacher Background

Students are being exposed to a wide array of new words in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic and related information. We feel that it's important that they develop a familiarity with the terminology and vocabulary associated with COVID-19.


Definitions of Puzzle Vocabulary Words

Antibodies – Y-shaped molecules produced by specialized cells of the immune system called B cells. Antibodies bind to a specific part of a disease-causing agent, like a virus, flagging it for destruction or preventing it from invading other cells.

COVID – COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. It is the second known SARS virus. SARS is an acronym for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, and CoV is an acronym for coronavirus. With COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease; 19 corresponds to the year ‘2019’.

Cough – A cough is a reflex, an automatic response to an irritant that propels air and particles out of your throat.

Droplets – Very small sphere or drop of liquid; droplets of water, mucous or saliva expelled when we talk, sing, cough or sneeze can carry the virus that causes COVID-19.

Fever – A body temperature that is higher than normal.

Pandemic – An outbreak of disease that affects multiple countries or continents at a time.

Quarantine –Separation or isolation of a person or people exposed to a contagious disease. It is a public health tool to prevent spread of disease, while people are potentially infectious.

Safe Distance – Keeping a physical space of at least 6 feet between you and others to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Sanitize – Reduce the number of germs on objects or surfaces to a safe level usually by using a chemical solution.

Sneeze – A sneeze is a reflex, which is an automatic response, that expels air from the nose or mouth when the nostrils are irritated.

Soap – A substance used with water for washing and cleaning.

Testing – A procedure used to diagnose, screen or evaluate an illness in a person.

Vaccine- A substance that protects the body from disease by stimulating the immune system to create cells that remember and recognize the disease-causing agent. Vaccines stimulate the immune system to make antibodies.

Virus – A very small infectious agent that replicates only inside of a living cell of an organism.

Wash Hands – Hand washing frequently with soap for 20 seconds is an important way to kill germs and protect against getting sick.

Water – A substance composed of the chemical elements of hydrogen and oxygen that can exist as a liquid, gas, or solid.

Wear Mask – Wearing a mask during the COVID-19 pandemic helps reduce the spread of the virus by close contact and respiratory droplets. You wear a mask to protect others and others wear a mask to protect you.

Objectives and Standards

Students will learn vocabulary and concepts related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Science/Health/Math Skills


NGSS Science & Engineering Practices

Obtaining, evaluating and communicating information


Materials and Setup

Each student will need a paper or electronic copy of the Pandemic Puzzle student page

Pandemic Puzzle Key (share with students or for the teacher)


Set Up and Teaching Tips

This puzzle may be used to supplement any of the COVID HACKS curriculum activities.


Procedure and Extensions


  1. Ask, What is a puzzle? Accept all responses, which may include putting pieces together to form a picture or a problem to be solved. Share that puzzles are intended to test your skills, knowledge, and patience in problem solving, and be fun!

  2. If they have not already provided examples, ask students to suggest or describe different kinds of puzzles. Possible examples include jigsaw puzzle, Rubik’s CubeTM, crossword or word search. Which puzzles are easy? Which are harder? Why do you think people enjoy solving puzzles?


  1. Tell students that you will provide them with a word search puzzle that includes words related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Give a couple of examples such as droplet, testing or virus.

  2. Explain that words may be oriented vertically, diagonally or horizontally. In addition, some words will be written backwards on the puzzle.

  3. Depending on the age group of your students, you may choose to make this a timed challenge. If so, let the class know. Do not reveal the answer key until all students have finished. If the puzzle is assigned to students to complete asynchronously, you, the teacher, will decide when to reveal the key.


  1. You may choose to have the students write sentences or a small paragraph using the vocabulary words in the word search to evaluate comprehension of the words and concepts.

Puzzle Key Image


The COVID HACKS curriculum project is made possible thanks to the support from Laura & John Arnold and Baylor College of Medicine. Scientists, educators and physicians from Baylor College of Medicine provided content, feedback and technical reviews.