Kids Love Word Play — I Just Snoffed . . . O Frabjous Day

Play with words and kids will love them.

Sneeze + Cough = a Snoff?

Is a cough- sneeze a snoff or a cougeeze? If there’s not a word for something, why not invent one? And, why not entice your reluctant writers with such fun word play?

Word play in children starts early – we rhyme, we make up silly languages and we try to figure out words based on our knowledge of grammar rules. Last week I couldn’t figure out the plural of caboose. I mean, is it cabooi like cactus is cacti or cabooses like mooses? Kids do this all the time and it’s so important to language development!

The master of inventing words was Dr. Seuss. And, remember Lewis Carrol’s Jabberwocky? I love reading that poem out loud, don’t you? (My tribute is “O frabjous day.”)

Do you know that the dictionary makers add new words every year?

Make Up Silly Words

In Ralph Fletcher’s book, Pyrotechnics on the Page, Playful Craft that Sparks Writing, he suggests using the picture book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to show your writer(s) how authors make up words. Together, find the made-up words like “chicka” and “skoodle” and guess why and how the authors invented those words.

For older students, Fletcher recommends the Andrew Clements’ novel Frindle and the Harry Potter books.

What will you call made-up words? Fletcher says that Rich Hall, the comedian, calls these words “sniglets.” I think I’ll call my made-up words “knibrontons.”

Start a Wacky Word Book

It’s always fun if you do these thing together so you’re both thinking about it and writing in your own books. Go ahead and borrow my “snoff” if you want to get you started. (Make your own books or use a store bought notebook.) Consider making it like a dictionary and label each page in alphabetical order. Add definitions and illustrations to make it even better.

Invent New Animals

Combine animals and illustrate. So a zebra + a lamb = a zamb?

Goofy Palindromes

Palindromes are words spelled the same backwards and forwards like “mom”and “race car” and “Go Hang a Salami! I’m a Lasagna Hog!” (I LOVE Palindromes and just bought this shirt at Mental Floss to express my inner geekiness. You may notice it’s not quite a palindrome. . . ) So, how about messing up palindromes? Just write words backwards and see if they sound cool? Like “kids” would be “sdik”. What would it mean? Or “boy” would be “yob”.

What are your favorite invented words?

More Writing Ideas:

DIY Pop-Up Books 


Found Poetry 

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