1. Overview

Combine two one-syllable words to make a new word: a compound word.

This activity gives your child his first introduction to the idea that sometimes two words can be put together to make one new word. A compound word is made up of two words that each have their own meaning (for example, rain + bow = rainbow).

This activity is usually easy for a child because the compound word has a whole new meaning from the two words that are used to create it. For example, a rainbow is not the same thing as rain or a bow.

making compound words
doll + house = dollhouse

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2. Materials

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3. Activity

Video: How to play Making Compound Words

Say two one-syllable words for your child, with a significant pause (one second long) between them. Then tell her to put the two short words together into a longer word.

Adult: I’m going to say two words. I want you to listen and then
            put my two words together to make one long word.
            Let me show you: snow
[1-second pause] ball.
            What word? Snowball. Now you do it.
            Listen: snow
[pause] ball. What word?
Child: Snowball.
Adult: Good job! Let’s do another one.
            Listen: tooth
[pause] brush. What’s the word?
Child: Toothbrush!

If the child struggles, put a shorter pause between the two one-syllable words as you say them. Then gradually lengthen the pause until the two words are said with a full one-second pause between them.

Go through the other words in the word list until your child stops paying attention. You can continue the activity at your next session.

NOTE: Hand motions (as demonstrated in the video) are an option for this activity but are not necessary.

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4. Confidence Builder

If your child struggles to grasp the idea of a compound word, try this procedure. Show her a photo of popcorn or a real piece of popcorn, and say this:

Adult: What is this?
Child: Popcorn!
Adult: Yes, it’s a piece of popcorn! The word popcorn is really two words
            that we say together — pop and corn.
            What two words make the word popcorn?

Child: Pop and corn!

If the child doesn’t respond correctly, repeat your statement: “The word popcorn is really two words that we say together — pop and corn.” Then ask again, “What two words make the word popcorn?”

Adult: I’m going to say those two words slowly. You put them together and say it fast.
            My turn: popcorn. Say it fast. What word? Popcorn!
            Now it’s your turn to say my words fast.
            Get ready: popcorn. Say it fast. What word?

Child: Popcorn!
Adult: Yes, popcorn!

Repeat this procedure with just three or four words that you repeat randomly until the child can confidently blend them together. Use words familiar to the kids such as hotdog, gumdrop, sunshine, doghouse. Then you can introduce the other words in the D1 word list.

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5. Extension

Say the first part of a compound word, and ask the child to give you the last part. There will be multiple possible answers that are correct. For example, for the first part snow, the child could say snowman, snowball, or snowflake.

You may need to give a hint by pointing, gesturing, or acting out a possible answer. For example, you could say the word eye and then point to a ball (for eyeball), to your eyebrow or to your eyelashes.

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6. Variation

This is a very “portable” game. Play in the car while you’re running errands or in the kitchen while your child helps you fix dinner!

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7. Small Groups

Lesson Objective: Children will hear two spoken one-syllable words and combine them orally to make a new, two-syllable word with its own meaning.

GELDS (Georgia Early Learning & Development Standards): CLL6.4e (This introduction to compound words can match CLL6.3e, but most compound word activities are best emphasized with children age four and older.)

Georgia Standards of Excellence: ELAGSEKRF2.b

Common Core State Standards: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.2.B

Adaptation: Read the main activity, watch the video, and follow the instructions above, with the following changes:

Teach the children hand gestures to illustrate the combining of two words into one new word. For example, have children hold out their fists, several inches apart, to represent each one-syllable word as they repeat the words. Then have them move their two fists together and say the new compound word.

Reinforcement: Use the word list to quiz the group on making compound words. Use the motions listed below for the children to use as a way to respond when they know the answer:

  • Round 1: Clap (when you know the answer)
  • Round 2: Snap or tap your fingers
  • Round 3: Pat your head

Use this Reinforcement at Home form to tell parents and guardians how they can reinforce lessons outside the classroom.

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