Compound nouns are nouns that have been created by joining two words together.
There are three types.
– Joined (input / bathroom / waterpark)
– Open (post office / real estate / night watchman)
– Hyphenated (mother-in-law / jack-in-the-box)
When you are teaching compound nouns to your students it makes sense to spend the bulk of your time exploring the joined kind.
This is because open ones are easy to understand. They are really just commonly used adjective noun pairs.
In turn, hyphenated ones are rare. It is usually enough to introduce them and show a few examples.
With that in mind, here are some joined compound noun lesson ideas!
1. Write a mix of simple words on the board and ask your students to use them to create as many compound nouns as they can. Try these words – air back side hand bed death watch bed ear ache farm yard hand foot step hair line cut half way home made. After a few minutes ask four or five students to suggest other words to add to the list.
2. Focus on one word and see how many different endings you can find. For example: earache, eardrum, earlobe, earmarked, earmuff, earphone, earring, earshot.
A fun way to get younger students to come up with the answers is to offer cloze sentences that can only be answered with a compound noun that starts with word. For example: I have a very bad ear_____. A bad ear infection can cause the ear_____ to burst. I have an ear_____ that is pierced with two earrings. I have ear______ the page I want you to read.
Other good starting words are earth, grand, hand and head. A dictionary is a quick way to look up all the possible combinations.
3. Challenge your students to think of 100 compound nouns by the end of the week.
This works well if they have a page titled “100 Compound Nouns”. They can start by ruling 4 or 5 columns and writing the numbers 1 to 100. This can be done each day as a class activity or as homework. A dictionary is a great resource for this activity.
This could be extended the following week by asking each student to contribute to a class collection. The words could be written on cards and pinned to a notice board or written on a large piece of cardboard. Setting a goal of 300 or more words can help to motivate the students.
This extension activity could also be a great small group task for those self-motivated students that thrive on challenges.