Bang! Crash! Swoosh! As a teacher and a mom, I have always found that kids enjoy sound words, otherwise known as an onomatopoeia. An onomatopoeia is a word which, when spoken, mimics the sounds of its own name. Onomatopoeia is an effective way to communicate sounds to readers. Rather than saying The cars stopped quickly, you can say The cars screeched to a halt. While kids can easily go overboard with their literary devices, I think teaching onomatopoeia is beneficial for their reading and writing development.
Many animal sound words are an onomatopoeia. Moo, chirp and meow are a few examples. Using an animal sound app or website, educators can play one sound and then ask their children/students what word makes the sound they heard. Next, write the word on the board and play the sound again. Explain to children that these words are all examples of an onomatopoeia. Kids can see the relationship between the sound and the word. You can do a similar activity with rain (drip, drop), car (crash, screech) or instrument (jingle, toot, rattle) sounds.
This game can become a little loud. Give children a rattle, bells and mini-hand clappers. However, don’t tell them the name of each instrument. Next, tell them you are going to say a word and they are going to play the instrument that makes the sounds. For instance, say “rattle” and students should use their rattle.
Find the Onomatopoeia
Give students a list of 25 or so words with half being an onomatopoeia. Here are a few of my favorites: crash, moo, slurp, hiss, chirp, splash and slap. The goal is to go through the list and circle all of the onomatopoeic words. Next, students can use the list to help them write a short story or paragraph using onomatopoeia in their story. To help students further, you could even give them a prompt: 1) Write about your visit to a farm or a zoo 2) Describe a big thunderstorm 3) Write a story about a car race.
I love picture books. When authors use onomatopoeia in their books, they help the story come alive. Here are a few picture books that use onomatopoeia well. As you read these aloud, ask students to listen for the sound words.
Snow Sounds: An Onomatopoeic Story by David A. Johnson
Duck Soup by Jackie Urbanovic
Click Clack Moo, Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin
These activities for teaching onomatopoeia will have your class giggling in no time.
More from Melissa:
Teaching Theme With Picture Books
How to Encourage Kids to Write
5 Reasons to Volunteer in Your Child’s Classroom