Compound words

Compound words are made  by joining two or more words; the combination creates a new word.

For many students, a lesson on compound words marks the first time they become aware of the component parts of words. This kicks off the process of learning about word roots, suffixes and prefixes. There are three types of compound words:

  • Closed compound words, e.g. football, peanut
  • Open compound words, e.g. cell phone, high school
  • Hyphenated compound words, e.g. in-depth, runner-up

Activities to support the strategy

Activity 1: compound word lesson plan

This resource has a well sequenced lesson guide for teaching compound words (PDF 553KB)

Activity 2: make jigsaws

Choose words from the students’ reading text that can be divided into two separate words. Cut to form a word jigsaw. Students can assemble jumbled sections to form new words. This is a self correcting activity.

Variation: Choose words from the text but don’t cut as a jigsaw and have students make as many words as possible. They can search the text to verify words and write the words made.

Activity 3

Compound word bingo 1

Compound word bingo 2 - endings

Charts sourced from Ian Addision

Online resources


Australian curriculum reference

ACELA-1485: Understand how to use sound-letter relationships and knowledge of spelling rules, compound words, prefixes, suffixes, morphemes and less common letter combinations.

NSW syllabus reference

EN2-5A:  uses a range of strategies, including knowledge of letter-sound correspondences and common letter patterns, to spell familiar and some unfamiliar words.

NSW literacy continuum reference

WRIC9M5: Aspects of writing, Cluster 9, Marker 5: Uses a variety of spelling strategies to spell high frequency words correctly.

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