Compound Noun Activities for Middle School

Instructor: Sharon Linde
Do your students understand what compound nouns are and how to use them properly? This lesson gives you ideas for activities you can do to reinforce compound nouns in guided small and whole group activities.

Compound Nouns in the Classroom

Fully understanding compound nouns has a few moving parts. First, students have to know what a compound noun is. Another skill is being able to create them on their own. Finally, they'll need to determine the meaning of these words. These skills can be learned and reinforced using simple yet fun games and activities we share below.

For most activities, you'll need a prepared set of compound noun index cards. Consider making these with your students and then laminating and storing in zipper bags for easy access.

Race the Clock

Setting - Small group


  • Prepared index cards with compound nouns written, one on each side, and then cut in half; one set for each small group


  1. Divide students into small groups and distribute prepared index cards to each.
  2. On your go, groups should unpack their index cards and attempt to make as many compound nouns as possible in the determined time limit.
  3. Start at five minutes, then take the top three groups to play a three-minute round, and then the top two play for a one-minute finale. Mix cards between rounds.

Extensions and Adaptations

  • To ensure all students participate, consider playing this game as a whole group with each student using their own set of index cards or consider playing in partner pairs.
  • Send the cards home with students for them to challenge their parents to a game.

Compound Noun Old Maid

Setting - Small groups


  • Prepared index cards with compound nouns written, one on each side, and then cut in half; one set for each small group. For this game, add one 'Old Maid' card to each set.


  1. Divide students into small groups and give each group a set of prepared compound noun index cards.
  2. Have groups choose a dealer and distribute one card to each player until all cards are gone.
  3. Students look at their cards and attempt to make compound noun matches. If they have a match, they lay those cards on the table in front of them.
  4. Once all matches have been weeded out of players hands, the dealer begins by choosing one card blindly from the player to the left.
  5. If the pulled card can make a match, it should be placed down at this time. If not, the second player pulls a card blindly from the player to their left.
  6. Play continues in this way as students continue to make matches and avoid the Old Maid.
  7. The player with the Old Maid at the end loses. The player with the most matches, or who goes out first, wins.

Extensions and Adaptations

  • Each time a player lays down a match, have them say the compound noun aloud to allow the group to verify.
  • Share a list of compound nouns for beginners to reference.

Compound Noun Dominoes

Setting - Small groups


  • Index cards cut in half
  • Markers

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