Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Teaching Children Poetry With Onomatopoeia

Reposted with (my) permission from my other blog A Year With Mom and Dad:

Here's one of my favorite poetic sound devices: Onomatopoeia!

(ON-OH-MAH-TOE-POE-EE-AH). Onomatopoeia is a big huge word that means: words that imitate or suggest the source of the sound being described. For example:
  • Choo-choo imitates the sound of a train.
  • Beep imitates the sound of a car horn.
  • Moo imitates the sound a cow makes.
  • Whirr suggests the sound of a fan.
And so on. Although it can be a fine line, try not to confuse Onomatopoeia words with a word that just states the fact a sound was made. As in, "laugh" - sure, a laugh IS a sound, but the words that imitate the SOUND of laughing are, "ha ha ha!"
Many times onomatopoeia words are completely made up, like describing a scraping noise as "sccrrettt." Other times people have used the sound word so much, it's become an "actual word" as in the case of animal noises like "cluck," "peep," and "meow." Cartoons make use of onomatopoeia with words like "Kaboom, Blam, Boom!"
I love to use sound-play with my toddler because it's so easy for kids to do, you can do it anywhere, and kids loooooove to make up silly sounds. Try these activities with your child to get them excited about playing around with words and the sounds they make:
  • As you look at picture book, take advantage of the photos / illustrations to ask your child what sound that object makes - guitars strum, drums dum-dum, toaster dings
  • As you drive, point out various animals / objects that make noises and teach your child the sound word - beep, honk, vroom, grrr
  • Take a nature walk, specifically looking for things that make sounds - rustle, shhh, crack, sccrrrch
  • Play with kitchen tools that make different kinds of sounds - clink, bang, ding, bam
  • Create a spontaneous silly sound poem. Maybe a farm poem, or a construction site poem, or a sitting by the creek poem full of sounds. Older children will be able to rhyme sounds as well adding another layer to their poem
  • Create a word cloud like the one above to print or share online using Word It Out! (For older children, or to display for younger kids).
Since poetry is highly auditory, playing with sounds teaches children to use one of their five senses to explore and explain the world! If nothing else, to celebrate poetry and onomatopoeia this week, try singing lots of Old MacDonald Had a Farm!

How else would you use sounds in word-play games for children?

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