Students enjoy learning how to make compound words. The simple exercise of putting two words together to make one is the foundation for understanding word components. Once students master the concept of compound words, they will be more prepared to study root words, prefixes and suffixes. The following activities will reinforce the concept of compound words.

Getting Words Together

On index cards, write single words that can be combined to make compound words. Have students put the words together in different combinations to make compound words. Make a compound word string on the board. Have students list a compound word, such as "honeybee." Another student comes to the board and writes a compound word that uses one of the words in the previous compound word, such as "honeymoon." Play continues in this manner (honeybee - honeymoon - moonlight - lighthouse - firehouse - fireman - fireworks) until each student gets a turn at the board.

Topic Specific Compound Word Challenge

The teacher calls out a topic, and students have a certain amount of time to list as many compound words that fit into that topic as they can. For example, the teacher calls out “occupations.” The students list words such as babysitter, lifeguard, bookkeeper, fireman, hairdresser, lumberjack. Other topics could include nature (waterfall, butterfly, sunflower, seashore) and sports (football, touchdown, skateboard, basketball).

Compound Words in Context

Start a list of compound words on the whiteboard that students use each day at home or in the classroom. Ask students to listen carefully for compound words in their daily language. Did they brush their teeth with toothpaste this morning? Write "toothpaste" on the board. What did they pack with food today? Write "lunchbox" on the board. Each time a compound word is used, place it on the list on the whiteboard. Students can earn points for each word they contribute and cash them in for classroom incentives.

Compound Word Puzzle Exchange

Make a two-piece puzzle pattern on heavy cardstock. You can fit several two-piece puzzles on each piece of cardstock. Copy and distribute puzzles to students and ask them to make compound word puzzles by writing two smaller words on the puzzle pieces that can fit together to make a compound word. Cut the pieces apart and store in envelopes. Have students exchange puzzle envelopes and solve each other’s puzzles.

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About the Author

Debbie McCarson is a former English teacher and school business administrator. Her articles have appeared in "School Librarians’ Journal" and "The Encyclopedia of New Jersey." A South Jersey native, she is a regular contributor to "South Jersey MOM" magazine.