Helpful Ways to Learn About Compound Words

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Helpful Ways to Learn About Compound Words

A picture of a rainbow.

Compound Words are a combination of two or more words that create a single unit of meaning. One word often describes the other.

  • When you have a house for a dog, it must be a doghouse!
  • A sunflower is a flower that grows in the sun.
  • What is a lighthouse? A lighthouse is a house with a light in it.

Compound Words for Kindergarten

Look at the two pictures. Name the picture. Say the words together to discover the new word.

The graphics show a camp plus fire equals a campfire.

More Compound Word Activities

Clap Each Word!

  • Clap your hands as you say each word. i.e., dog – house
  • Change it up… stamp your feet, jump in the air, kick-box it! i.e., house-boat
  • Snap your fingers for each word. i.e., cup-cake
An armchair.

Ask the child(ren) to solve a RIDDLE

  • Ask, “What is a chair with arms?” ARMCHAIR
  • Question, “What is a cake made in a pan?” PANCAKE
  • Challenge, “What is a chair with wheels?” WHEELCHAIR

Find Little Words in Big Words

  • Look at the graphics,
  • Voice the name of the first picture.
  • Say the name of the second picture.
  • Repeat the words slowly.
  • Place a marker in front of you as you say the first and second little words that make the big word.
  • Join the words together to discover the new word!


  • “Say, treehouse. Now say it again, but don’t say: house.” (tree)
  • Try another one: “Say, playground. Now say it again, but don’t say: play.” (ground)

Recognizing, creating, and deleting part of a compound word is a kindergarten auditory awareness skill.

  • Children learn to create new words and listen to delete parts of the word.
  • Encourage students to “own their learning.” Provide numerous and varied learning opportunities for children to play with words.

50 Compound Words for Kids #51 YouTube Video

Group Teaching or Individual Work as Needed

Check out these large classroom-sized graphics!

  • First, place two pictures on one page.
  • These pictures should create a compound word. (e.g., cup | cake)
  • Then add a graphic of the completed word (cupcake) on one other page. Optional – You may print it on the back of the two-word page.
  • Finally, play with the words! Say, “cup.” Say, “cake.” Say, “Now, push them together! What is your new word?”
  • Many pre-schoolers and kindergarten children have fun with riddles.
  • Ask, “What is a light that flashes?” (Flashlight) “What is a house for a dog?” (Doghouse)

There are 39 compound words in color

  • One letter-sized page has two graphics.
  • The other page has the newly created word! (e.g., dog + house = doghouse)
  • There are also 12 extra word graphics, a list of 48 more words, and 5 TAKE HOME TASKS!
A picture of 2 piece puzzles. A fire plus a man makes fireman. A pan plus a cake makes pancake.

Compound Word Activities include 2-piece Puzzles

  • After learning the concept, your child begins to extend and consolidate her knowledge.
  • Next, use a 2-piece puzzle template.
  • Place the two graphics on the template.
  • Put the graphic for the new word on an undivided puzzle shape.
  • Kindergarten kids have fun working individually or supported by small groups as they work with words.
  • Encourage your child to “think about their thinking.”
  • Ask: “How did you know they matched?”
  • Explain your thinking. What compound words can you remember?

You may want to check out this ready-made resource. Included: 39 compound word 2-piece puzzles in color and black and white.


  • One letter-sized page has three 2-piece puzzle pieces.
  • Each puzzle piece has two words.
  • A matching letter-sized page has 3 puzzle pieces with graphics for the new word!
3 piece puzzles for compound words.

3-piece Puzzles

  • Consolidate your child’s learning with 3-piece self-correcting compound word puzzles!
  • Remember to keep your kids “thinking about their thinking.”
  • Ask them questions like, “Did you learn any new words?” “What is your favorite word?” “Why?”

You may want to check out this ready-made resource. Included: 39 compound word 3-piece puzzles in color and the same 39 words in black and white.

One letter-size page has three 3-piece puzzle pieces with the graphics for each part of the compound word, and the compound word. (x + y = new word)

OPTIONAL: Children progress at varying rates. Playing with compound words helps your child to understand the concept. Should you choose not to create your own puzzles, you may choose to SAVE with this ready-to-print Compound Word BUNDLE! (Available in PRINT Letters or SASSOON Font)

Spelling Tips for Compound Words

  • Initially, spelling a ‘big’ or ‘long’ word seems challenging to a kindergarten or grade one child.
  • Therefore, the idea of sounding out and printing the two smaller words may make the task more manageable.
  • As a result of your child’s experiences seeing closed compound words in print and playing with the words; she’ll begin to get a sense of when to combine two smaller words into one.

List of 100 Compound Words

✅  Get your FREE List of 100 Compound Words HERE!

Warning! Warning!

  • As we all know, learning to read and write in English is complicated!
  • When your older child is spelling, it may not be obvious when to combine two or more words into one.
  • There are three kinds of compound words. In kindergarten and grade one, we learn about closed compound words.
  • For your information: As your child reads and sees more words in a text, she learns there are open and hyphenated compound words.
  • When spelling these words, there is no rule that will help your child to decide whether this is a closed or open compound word. (e.g., If she is trying to spell the word, “playhouse,” she’ll need to determine what “looks right.”)
  • Playing with words, reading, dictation, playing word games, and watching the text as someone else reads helps provide background knowledge.
  • Kids need to see the word in writing many times!
A beachball. A closed compound word.


Two words are joined together to create a new meaning. (baseball, playhouse, popcorn, keyboard, snowball)

A picture of an ice cream cone. An open compound word.


Words are open, but when read together, a new meaning is formed. (post office, living room, ice cream, real estate, full moon)

Children on a merry go round. A hyphenated compound word.


Words are joined together by a hyphen (daughter-in-law, get-together, six-year-old, twenty-one, merry-go-round)

A picture of a rainbow representing compound words.


Scaffold the learning during spelling practice (spelling dictation) or spelling games. To increase each child’s awareness, provide prompts such as, “This next sentence has a compound word” or “This is a compound word.”

Like any new skill, the bottom line is practice, practice, practice! The more times your child sees these words in print, the easier it will be for him to spell them.

Wishing you a wonderful day!

Have fun!


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