Compound Words Games & Activities

Instructor: Maria Airth

Maria has a Doctorate of Education and over 20 years of experience teaching psychology and math related courses at the university level.

Keeping students interested and engaged during class can be challenging. This lesson offers active and quiet, games and activities to help reinforce student knowledge of compound words in an engaging way.

Playing to Learn

Have you ever noticed your students' eyes glazing over as you start a lesson? Sitting at a desk all day can really wipe out a child's ability to focus and pay attention. Active play is a great way to keep students engaged in the topic at hand. Including competitive motivation also increases older children's desire to stay focused.

This lesson offers games and activities designed to reinforce knowledge of compound words. Some of the games are active and involve the whole class working together. Other activities are individual activities to use with students who are struggling with the concept and need extra quiet work on their own to cement the ideas.

Active Games

These games are designed for the whole class to enjoy being loud and active together. You need to set aside time (and space) for these games. You may consider using them as whole class rewards due to their highly playful natures.

Catch a Word

  • Materials: You will need a note card for each student and five to ten colored sashes.
  • Preparation: Print single nouns (not compound) on each card.
  • Instructions: Hand out the note cards to your students. Give the sashes to students. Tell the students that, at a signal, all students without a sash should run from those with a sash. The students with a sash attempt to catch the others. When a student has been caught, s/he must stand with the catcher until the end of the round. After all the students with sashes have a partner, they read off the compound word they make (starting with the sashed student's card). Then, they hand the sash to the partner and play repeats as long as you like. Each round should create brand new compound words. You can add to this game by having students indicate whether the compound word made is a real word or not.

Round Compound

  • No Materials or Preparation needed.
  • Instructions: Have students stand in a circle. Choose a starting point. Tell the students that they are going to create compound words in a ''Round Robin'' fashion: the first person will start with any compound word, the next person uses the second half of the first compound word to begin a new compound word, and so on. For example, if student one says ''doghouse'', student two might say ''housefly'' and student three could add ''flytrap''. When a student is unable to come up with a continuation compound word, s/he can start with a new compound word. Challenge your students to make it through everyone in the class without breaking the chain by offering a prize (maybe five minutes free time) for accomplishing the task.

Unique Combinations

  • No Materials or Preparation needed.
  • Instructions: Start with all the students standing in a group. Call out a noun and ask the students to think of a compound word using that noun (for example, if you call out ''dog'', students might think of ''doghouse'' or ''dogwood''). Choose a student and ask him/her to say out loud the compound word he/she was thinking. Ask all students who were thinking the same word to join that student in a group. Call on another student left in the original group to say his compound word; again ask students to group based on thinking the same word. Any students that were thinking unique words (no one to group with) win that round. Allowing students to stay in their newly formed groups call out another noun and repeat the steps of grouping. Encourage students to try to think of unique compound words.

Quiet Activities

These activities all involve students remaining at their desks or workstations. They are designed to really focus students on practicing the use of compound words.

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