Onomatopoeia Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Shelly Merrell

Shelly has a Master's of Education. Most recent professional experience is an educational diagnostician. Prior, she taught for 8 years.

In today's lesson, you'll learn about sound words, known as onomatopoeias! You'll also learn how these natural sound words enhance writing and make a story interesting to read.

What Is an Onomatopoeia?

'Old MacDonald had a farm, E I E I O.

On this farm he had a cow, E I E I O.

With a MOO MOO, here, and MOO MOO there...'

If we sang this song about a pig, what sound would we use? OINK, OINK here and an OINK, OINK there!

How about a dog? A RUFF, RUFF here and a RUFF, RUFF there!

What do MOO, OINK and RUFF have in common? They are all onomatopoeias (pronounced on-ah-ma-tah-pee-ah), words written to imitate sounds.

Imagine trying to sing the song about Old MacDonald without these sound words. It doesn't seem as fun to sing, does it? These onomatopoeias add a fun element when writing and give the reader more description of the events in the story.

Examples in Sentences

- The car crashed into the tree! BAM! Then, the tree fell over.

The word BAM helps the reader 'hear' what this collision was like. In this incident, some may also hear BEEP, CRASH, THUD, CRACK, OUCH, or SCREECH.

Let's look at these sentences that don't include onomatopoeia:

- The girl hit the ball so hard, it flew into the stands. Just like that, the fans knew it was a grand slam!

These sentences are well written and give a good description. But let's try adding an onomatopoeia.

- The girl hit the ball so hard, it flew into the stands. WHACK! Just like that, the fans knew it was a grand slam!

This time we added the word WHACK. This allows the reader to imagine what the sound was like when the bat hit the ball. Try to imagine what other sounds you may hear at a baseball game. YAY and WOW are sounds of excitement we may hear from the fans. Or SWISH and ZIP are sounds we would hear as the runner quickly gets to base.

Onomatopoeia words are all around us. We have to listen to find them.

Situations Where We Might Hear Onomatopeoia

- Let's go through an imaginary walk in a zoo. When you see a lion, what sound would you hear? Maybe a load ROAR? When you see the monkeys, what sound would you hear? Maybe a shrill EEE-AACK AACK? Wait, what was that? HISS HISS.... this onomatopoeia helps us identify the next animal. It must be a snake!

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