Simple Hands-On Activities to Teach Compound Words

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As elementary teachers and homeschooling parents, we know our kids want interactive games, hands-on learning opportunities, and activities…especially for those skills that are already less than exciting. And the truth is, many language arts skills are pretty dry. So, I’ve created 7 engaging activities to help you teach compound words to your kids.

What are Compound Words?

Compound words are just two simple words put together to form a new word. Obviously, compound words are larger than the individual words that form them, but helping kids differentiate between the words is vital to their understanding.

In the past, many of us felt confident that our kids understood compound words if they could construct one by joining two simple words. And while that is an essential part of the skill, we need to be teaching them about deconstructing compound words, too.

This will ensure that they have completed mastered the skill. 

So I’ve put together a list of activities to teach compound words and effectively practice this skill that includes both constructing and deconstructing compound words. 

7 Activities to Teach Compound Words

1. Incorporate Anchor Charts

Ok…so this may not seem like an activity, but it is fundamental to learning. ANY time you introduce a new skill, you need to give your kids a visual to help them understand what you are teaching. There is a multitude of research to support the fact that visual aids enhance the learning process.

While every child has unique learning styles, anchor charts prove to be vital to learning; and this is even more evident in the case of visual learners.

After a skill has been introduced and taught, the anchor charts need to be posted in a central location to ensure that those students who need them can reference them at any point in their learning journey.

Your anchor chart should include a kid-friendly definition, an example sentence, and a visual representation of the skill. This guarantees that every unique learning style is met in one visual!

You can also print smaller versions of the anchor charts for kids to keep at their desks as a reference. This is a fantastic modification for those students who are visually-impaired.

Quick tip: I always print my anchor charts on cardstock and laminate them to increase the durability and guarantee that they last for several years!

2. Find the Compound Word (Sensory Bin Words)

Turning ANY activity into a game immediately makes it much more enticing for kids. In this activity, your kids will find pictures hidden in a sensory bin/box and match them to the corresponding sheet.

Simply print the color pictures, black and white pictures, or words (or a combination) and place them into a pencil box filled with dried beans, pasta, or rice. Your kids will search through the sensory bin or box for as many pictures as they can find.

Each time they find a card in the sensory bin, they place it onto the matching sheet to see how many compound words they can create. Trust me…anytime digging is involved, your kids will LOVE IT!!! 

Quick tip:  To make this more of a challenge for your students, set a timer to see how many they can find in one minute. If that becomes easy, have your students search for the pictures while matching them to the word.

3. Compound Word Puzzles

Any time you can incorporate puzzles into a lesson, it will be a winner with your kids. And the truth is that puzzles allow kids to exercise spatial reasoning and hand-eye coordination while learning a new skill.

These puzzles have been designed to be automatically self-correcting which makes them the perfect addition to centers or stations.

Each compound word puzzle includes 3 pieces-2 simple words and a compound word. There are 3 different levels to give every child the opportunity to be successful.

  • The first design has pictures only.
  • The second design has pictures and words.
  • The third design has words only.

Kids will find the two simple words needed to construct the appropriate compound word.

Quick tip: To make the task more challenging, consider mixing the word and picture puzzles so that kids have to mix and match to create the compound word. (Just make sure to you include all of the necessary pieces.)

4. Cut & Paste the Compound Word

Being able to read simple words and then create compound words from those simple words is the basis for understanding compound words. In this activity, kids cut out all of the simple words and form compound words by gluing them into the boxes.

There are two options to meet the needs of your learners.

For younger kids (or those who need modifications), there’s a sheet that includes the traceable compound word. This provides them with a prompt to know which words to include in the boxes as well as the word to trace.

For those students who need a little more of a challenge, there’s a sheet with just blanks. This sheet encourages kids to think more deeply and create their own words using the simple words that are available.

Quick tip: To challenge your students, give them the blank answer sheet without any words to cut out and have them create as many compound words as they can on their own. They will write the two simple words in the blanks and the compound word at the end.

5. Create & Sketch a Compound Word

This activity brings the element of illustration into creating compound words. Your kids will write 4 compound words and illustrate those words in the boxes.

As with the other activities, there are two different versions. One includes traceable words that will provide a prompt for the compound word and the other is blank to give your kids freedom to create any compound word they want.

Quick tip: Have your students draw 3 pictures per box. They will draw the simple words and the compound word to flex their artistic illustration muscles.

6. Compound Word Memory

This is the perfect activity to practice any skill. You simply lay all of the cards face down and try to find matches that will create compound words.

There are three different versions to meet the needs of your kids. The first is just like traditional memory. Players will simply find the same images to create a match.

In the second version, kids have to match the two pictures that create a compound word. The third version is designed for kids to find the two words that go together to make a unique compound word.

To help you with organization, each card has a number in the corner to indicate which group the cards belong in.

Quick tip: To make organization even simpler for you and your kids, print each version on different colored paper. This will make clean up a breeze while keeping all of the cards in the correct groups.

7. Add & Subtract the Compound Words

Kids enjoy activities that are cross-curricular or get them thinking about different subjects! And these activities are the perfect way to combine math and language arts.

Students will have the opportunity to stretch their addition and subtraction muscles by adding and subtracting compound words.

On the addition pages, your kids will add the two words to create the compound word. This reinforces the concept of addition and the “PART + PART = WHOLE” model. (There are two versions to meet the needs of your learners.)

On the subtraction pages, your kids will start with the compound word and then subtract one simple word to create the other simple word. This reinforces the subtraction model of “WHOLE – PART = PART.”

Using these activities to teach compound words and practice this important skill is vital to the success of your kids. They need ample opportunities to construct and deconstruct the words, and that is why I created this compound word activity pack.

You will find EVERY activity from this post included in the activity pack. It’s the perfect stand alone bundle to teach compound words or an excellent addition to your language arts curriculum. Click here to see this compound word activity pack in my TpT shop!