Abstract & Concrete Nouns Activities & Games

Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

Chances are your students are familiar with nouns. But, do they know the difference between abstract and concrete nouns? This lesson provides classroom exercises to teach abstract and concrete nouns to students of different ages.

Abstract vs. Concrete

Before exposing your students to abstract and concrete noun activities and games, you'll want to begin with an exercise that both defines abstract and concrete nouns and provides examples. Begin by dividing the blackboard into two sections. Label one section Concrete Nouns and the other Abstract Nouns. Next, ask your students the following questions:

  1. What are the five senses?
  2. What is a concrete noun?
  3. What is an abstract noun?

If students are unable to answer the second and third questions, write these definitions on the board:

  • Concrete nouns are nouns you can experience with one or more of your five senses. For example:
    • Cat is a concrete noun because you can see, touch, hear, and smell a cat.
    • Saltiness is a concrete noun because you can taste it.
    • Amy is a concrete noun because you can see and hear Amy.
  • Abstract nouns are nouns you cannot experience with your five senses. For example:
    • Trust is an abstract noun because you can't see, hear, taste, smell, or touch trust.
    • Happiness is an abstract noun for the same reason that trust is an abstract noun.

Ask for students to give you other examples of both concrete and abstract nouns and write appropriate answers on the board in the corresponding column.

Concrete or Abstract Race

Before using this game, you'll need to write several abstract and concrete nouns on one index card each. Use the following list to get started. Write the noun on the front of the index card and the type of noun on the back of the card.

  1. Dog (concrete)
  2. Childhood (abstract)
  3. Anger (abstract)
  4. Car (concrete)
  5. Knowledge (abstract)
  6. Humor (abstract)
  7. Engineer (concrete)
  8. Bus stop (concrete)
  9. Talent (abstract)
  10. Computer (concrete)
  • Invite a volunteer to join you at the front of the room.
  • Show the volunteer the front of each card. The volunteer must say whether the noun on the card is concrete or abstract. Only show each card for a second or two so that the volunteer must give an answer quickly.
  • Put the cards the volunteer identifies correctly into one pile and the incorrectly identified cards in another pile.
  • At the end, review the cards the volunteer incorrectly identified with the entire class.
  1. Distribute ten index cards to each student and tell them to create cards similar to the ones you used with the volunteer.
  2. After the cards are complete, have students quiz each other using the cards they just created.
  3. To conclude the game, review any cards students disagreed about.

You can also use this game as a group activity by dividing the class into groups and showing the cards to all the groups at once. The groups can write down and turn in their answers for review.

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