Wow words

If, like me, you’ve worked in and around schools during the last few years, you’re probably familiar with ‘WOW words’. Often displayed in highly creative classroom displays, used as a resource to develop children’s vocabulary and a tool to support storytelling and creative writing.


 “Using ‘wow’ words in writing can build a better picture in the mind of the reader,

grabbing their attention and making them want to read on.” (Taken from


But how do they apply to grant funding applications?

Well to be honest, in pretty much the same way as it applies to your 8-year-old! It’s a very similar principle.

We usually tell stories using words, whether in written or verbal form, and sometimes with sign language. But, we often think in pictures; look what happens when I use the words:

Big frog……………. Or big fat furry cat………………Or even hot chocolate fudge cake (can you see the steam rising?!)

I guess we all see these pictures differently, dependant on our personal experiences – but we know these pictures can be pretty powerful. Which is why WOW words are so important when describing the impact your organisation makes, the difference your project makes, or the changes investment could generate.

WOW words bring your writing to life; they can deepen the understanding of the reader. Vitally, they can focus the readers attention, arouse curiosity, make them want to read on and find out more. All the things you are trying to do when answering that question “Tell us in no more than 70 words how you are going to change the universe for all living beings”!!!

WOW words (and phrases) can also inspire confidence – try using ‘We will’ instead of ‘We would like to’, one simple way to help you sound more decisive.

Can you spot the WOW words in this example?

  1. We are a vibrant and ambitious primary school, situated within a challenging, and culturally diverse community. We have a proven track record, delivering innovative and creative outdoor learning. We empower our children by consistently modelling positive ways of being; nurturing their natural curiosity through exciting and interesting activities. Funding will enable us to explore the stunning countryside around our school, that our families are nervous to access.

It could equally have been written:

  1. Our primary school is situated in an area of multiple deprivation. A high proportion of families speak English as a second language. We deliver outdoor learning activities and need more funding to make it accessible to local families. We know that our children enjoy outdoor learning.

Both are potentially accurate answers to the same question – but which one would makes you want to find out more?

I’m guessing that you probably don’t want to have a full on WOW word wall if you are working at home (although it could be a fun home learning activity if you’re stuck for ideas!) but it could be worth setting up a file, or a database of useful WOW words and phrases. I tend to use Airtable for this sort of thing, because my One Drive is overflowing with ‘useful documents’ that I don’t read! Airtable is just far easier and can be easily shared with colleagues and co-workers.

Here’s a few words to get you going!

Words to describe how you could improve things:










Words to describe how you could measure things





Just a word of warning though – a few carefully placed WOW words, will add intrigue, depth and interest to your application, but don’t be tempted to go overboard! You need to think about the overall ‘readability’ of the application as a whole. You can even check that using this handy tool Readability Formula For your average application, using the Flesch Reading Scale, you are aiming for a score of about 60 – 70.

Finally, if you came here from a search, and just wanted to find out about WOW words for your children’s learning, here are a couple of useful links that I came across!

Useful links

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