Compound Circles: An activity to practice compound words

Objective: To help students gain familiarity with patterns used in forming compound words (open, closed, and hyphenated forms).

Level:  intermediate to advanced

Materials needed: depending on the compounds you wish to target, magazine photos or household items may be needed (see suggested “stations” below)

STEP 1: Create stations around the room. Each station has a theme with theme-related items. Post the name of the station as well as the instructions for the task(s) to be performed there. By physically circulating from station to station, students will be better able to sort common compounds into groups according to their written forms: closed (one word), open (unhyphenated), or hyphenated.

Suggested stations:

  • Colors.  Display 3 photos showing people’s physical appearance. Number them. Task: Describe each person’s appearance using at least one compound word. Example: Photo #1 shows a brown-haired and green-eyed boy.
  • Pages. Place 3 books, reports, essays, or pamphlets at the station. Task: Describe the items according to how many pages they have. Example: There is a 3-page essay on crime.
  • Ages. Task: Ask your partner’s age. Write a sentence about your partner using a compound word. Example: My partner is a twenty-two-year-old woman.

Alternative or additional task for ages. Display 2 photos showing a young and an old person. Number them. Task 2: Describe each person’s appearance using the compound [age-something]. Example: The person in photo #1 looks thirty-something.

  • Jobs.  Display 6 photos showing people in various uniforms and/ or dressed for a specific workplace. Number them. Task: Identify the hospital workers, the factory workers, the restaurant staff, etc. (Depending on the photos you use.) Example: #1 and #3 are hospital workers. #2 is a factory worker. #4 and #5 are restaurant staff. #6 is a TV repairman.
  • Family. Use magazine photos to create a family tree having four generations. Name the people. Task: Identify the great-grandchildren. Identify any great-aunts or great-uncles. Example: Kim and Pete are the great-grandchildren of Victor and Ellen. They have one great-uncle, Tom, and one great-aunt, Lucy. Variation: Show second marriages and ask about stepparents and stepchildren.
  • Technology. Display 5-6 photos of electronic items. (Suggestions: cell phone, mp3 player, pocket calculator, laptop computer, DVD player.) Task: Find out which items your partner has. Example: My partner has an mp3 player and a cell phone. He shares a DVD player and laptop computer with his brother.

STEP 2: Have students work in pairs moving from station to station. Partners may discuss answers, but each student is responsible for writing his/ her answers on paper.

STEP 3: Gather as a class. For each station, ask a volunteer to write his/ her answers on the board.

NOTE: The preparation time will pay off especially if you recycle this activity. Try it with different groups.

Explore posts in the same categories: Grammar, Vocabulary, Writing

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3 Comments on “Compound Circles: An activity to practice compound words”

  1. Ala'a Eldin Says:

    I’m Egyptian teacher. I teach English Language as a second language in a secondary school here in Egypt as well as teaching phonatecis to university students. I really enjoy your Youtube video lessons and regularly follow them up. In fact, these lessons help me very much and enhance my English. Thanks a lot

    • englishwithjennifer Says:

      I’m very glad I can offer at least two different forms of resources for other teachers: the videos and these blog entries. I hope you’ll find material here as helpful as the YouTube lessons.
      Best regards to you and all your students!


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