In one of my English Writing classes we have been looking at creative writing and how important it is to make your writing as interesting as possible. In my classroom I refer to ‘WOW’ words which are interesting, exciting and different words that the students can use to jazz up their work. As I have been left to my own devices when it comes to my writing classes I am able to teach whatever I like and so I thought it would be really fun to look at onomatopoeia with some of my classes to build up their collection of ‘WOW’ words.
The lesson went really well; the students really enjoyed it as did I. So I thought I would share it for any other teachers out there who may be interested…
So I walk into the classroom and write ‘onomatopoeia’ across the board in massive writing to make the word look even longer and scarier. This is breaking one of the cardinal rules of ESL teaching – you don’t walk in and write a grammar term on the board – you teach it first and then tell the students the official name for it once they have an understanding of it’s use, if you tell them at all. But I wanted to de-mistify this long and scary word from the start, and the students thought it was hiarious as I wrote this ever lasting word (it has EIGHT vowels – that is simply insane) and when they tried to pronounce it they all got the giggles. During the lesson I didn’t actually refer to onomatopoeia using the word, ‘onomatopoeia’. A word that length and with that many vowels is just plain scary to 12 year old ESL learners! I referred to the words as sound words which is much more student friendly.
After explaining that we were going to build on our ‘WOW’ words with special sound words, we watched the video below. It’s a super catchy song so I was dancing around and encouraging the students to as well. Onomatopoeia is fun guys!
Introducton – Onomatopoeia video:
So we watched the video a couple of times and the kids instantly understood what the lesson was going to be about. Students were baaing and mooing and boinging and whooshing all over the place. I explained that we can use these sound words to describe all sorts of things; animals, people, actions, cars, nature – anything. Cue wonderful white board work and mindmap of examples of onomatopoeia.
Pair work – matching activity:
Then in pairs, the students did a matching activity where they had to match the sound word to the correct picture. Some words weren’t in the video but the beauty of onomatopoeia is that the words sound like the sound that they are (if that makes any sense at all…) so the students were able to figure them out, occasionally aided by my wonderful impressions of car engines, slamming doors and sneezing.
I made the matching activity using random images from google so some of them have got watermarks on them (naught, naughty) but it worked fine. I think if I was going to print and laminate a few sets (oooh, I love a bit of laminating) then maybe I would make sure all the images were proper.
Download the pdf file here: Onomatopoeia matching activity. I cut the words out and left the pictures as 2 sheets of A4, asking the students to place the word on top of the correct picture.
General madness in the loose guise as an educational game:
We then played a game involving lots of running around, scribbling on the board, barking like a dog/ screeching around like a car/ flying like a rocket – BUT AT THE SAME TIME IT WAS TOTALLY EDUCATIONAL AND WAS DRUMMING THESE NEW SOUND WORDS INTO THEIR WONDERFUL SPONGE-LIKE MINDS. Ah, the beauty of teaching.
And that was our super fun onomatopoeia lesson.
Aaaand the song from the video is now stuck in all of our heads isn’t it?