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Onomatopoeia Reading Activities

Words that imitate the sounds characters and objects make, like pow!, meow, hiss, and choo-choo, are examples of onomatopoeia. Stories with descriptive, lively words like bang!, whoo-whoo, and buzz are fun to read and listen to.

Comics, graphic novels, advertisements, poems, and songs use onomatopoeia. Say, Snap!, Crackle!, Pop! to your students, and ask what comes to mind. Many will respond with the name of a breakfast cereal. Once students have learned the concept of this figure of speech, they can create their own comic strip, advertisement, story, or song using onomatopoeia.

Onomatopoeia words and phrases are commonly used in childrenís books to describe animal sounds. These sounds are not spelled and pronounced the same across cultures. Multicultural classrooms will have fun finding out how different languages express animal sounds. Examples of English versions of common animal sounds are:

meow | cat
woof | dog
oink | pig
buzz | bee
roar | lion
tweet | bird
moo | cow
neigh | horse
hiss | snake

These words are close imitations of actual animal sounds. Although onomatopoeia words and phrases are often used in picture books, they can be challenging for children to read. Many have vowel or consonant blends in their spelling. Onomatopoeia words and phrases found in favorite stories can be used for spin-off phonics lessons, or as teachable moments for students still learning to read.

Here is a list of picture books to use for onomatopoeia lessons:

This book, If You Were Onomatopoeia (Word Fun) by Speed Shaskan, introduces the concept of onomatopoeia in a fun way to students. It includes a variety of creative examples. Look for it in your local library, or find it on Amazon.com.

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Teachers of older students might want to check out KA-BOOM! A Dictionary of Comic Book Words, Symbols & Onomatopoeia at your library. It is also available at Amazon.com.

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