Compound Word Lessons for Kindergarten

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Even pre-literate children can understand the concept of compound words.

From birth, children are immersed in etymologically complex language. Learning to speak and write involves not just memorizing words, but internalizing the grammatical rules which govern their formation and use. Kindergartners have an intuitive understanding of how language works long before they are able to read and write competently. Introduce concepts such as compound words through visual, auditory and interactive means to cement understanding in young children.

  1. Identifying Compound Words

    • Read a story to the children that incorporates compound words. Explain what a compound word is, and ask children to raise their hands when they think they hear a compound word. When they give the signal, stop and analyze the word in question.

      Allow the children to break the word into two parts verbally. Talk about why the two base words might be combined to form the compound concept. If the class misses a word, double back and explain the definition and components. Keep a list of all the compound words you find for review at the end of the lesson.

    Creating Compound Words

    • Hold a class discussion on the phenomenon of compound words. Illustrate your explanation with several simple examples, such as "birdhouse" or "eyeball." Talk about how compound words push the two words together, eliminating the physical and auditory space between. Explain that the meaning of the words changes when they are put together in this way.

      Allow kids to create their own compound words based on the models. Take a suggestion for a simple noun from two separate students, and put them together to create a new compound word. Decide whether the product is a real word. If not, discuss what it might mean and help the children visualize its definition. As a supplemental art project, kindergartners can then illustrate their made-up words.

    Compound Word Hunt

    • A word-making game can show children how compound words are created. Write base words on colored cards. As most kindergartners cannot read, illustrate the base words with clear pictures. Hide the cards around the classroom in plastic eggs or distribute them randomly to the kids. Let the children find the words and figure out what each picture means.

      Tell the kids that the words match up in pairs to form compound words. Allow the children to find the partner who matches their base words. To simplify this process, you may wish to make matching words the same color. Ensure that they choose the correct word order before displaying the word pairs on a bulletin board or classroom wall.

    Compound Word Books

    • Kindergartners are highly receptive to visual learning strategies. Create compound word books by folding two sides of a sheet of paper into the middle. The two flaps serve as doors that open, exposing the interior. Have the children write or trace the entire compound word in the middle, and the two component words on each flap.

      Instruct the children to illustrate each base word individually on the flaps, then the entire compound concept on the interior. Provide a model so that students understand what is expected. For instance, "fireman" would require a drawing illustrating "fire" on the left flap, and "man" on the right flap. Inside, you would draw a fireman, perhaps extinguishing a blaze with his hose. Choose compound words that are easily illustrated to work on as a class, such as "seahorse" or "toothbrush."

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