Compound nouns are nouns that have been created by joining two words.

There are three types.

– United (entrance/bathroom/water park)

– Open (post office / real estate / night watchman)

– With script (mother-in-law / surprise box)

When you’re teaching compound nouns to your students, it makes sense to spend most of your time exploring the joined type.

This is because open ones are easy to understand. Actually, they are just pairs of commonly used adjective nouns.

In turn, scripts are rare. It is usually enough to introduce them and show some examples.

With that in mind, here are some ideas for joined compound nouns lessons!

1. Write a combination 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, bed, death, clock, bed, earache, farm yard, hand, foot, step, hair, line cut midway homemade. 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, earmarking, earmuff, earpiece, earring, ear shot.

A fun way to get younger students to find the answers is to offer blank sentences that can only be answered with a compound noun that begins with a word. For example: I have very bad hearing_____. A serious ear infection can cause the _____ ear to burst. I have an ear_____ that is pierced with two earrings. I heard______ the page I want you to read.

Other good opening words are earth, great, hand, and head. A dictionary is a quick way to look up all 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 marking off 4 or 5 columns and writing the numbers from 1 to 100. This can be done every day as a class activity or as homework. A dictionary is a great resource for this activity.

This could be extended into the following week by asking each student to contribute to a class collection. The words can be written on cards and pinned to a bulletin board or written on a large piece of cardboard. Setting a goal of 300 or more words can help motivate students.

This extension activity could also make a great small group assignment for those motivated students who thrive on challenges.

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