Grade Levels: 2-4
- Students will identify examples of onomatopoeia in the Geronimo Stilton books.
- Students will relate onomatopoeia to everyday life experiences and other environments.
- Students will identify examples of onomatopoeia.
- Students will identify sources of sounds that onomatopoetic words are based on.
- Students will convey their understanding of onomatopoeia by reading it aloud and writing examples of it.
- Geronimo Stilton books
- pens, pencils, crayons, and/or colored markers
- writing paper
1. Ask students about sounds they would hear from a hungry
cat, a fireworks display, and cars stuck in traffic. Tell
them that their answers, which should include words such
as "meow," "boom," and "honk," are all examples of onomatopoeia,
the use of words that imitate sounds.
Onomatopoeia is an ancient Greek term that means "name-making," most likely because the meanings of onomatopoetic words are indeed made by sounds. Poets and other writers use onomatopoeia to bring their poems and stories to life. Write the following words on the board to provide more examples of onomatopoeia, then ask students to identify animals and objects that might be associated with these words.
2. Discuss how the shape, color, and arrangement of letters
in the Geronimo Stilton books can add drama to onomatopoetic
words. For example, on page 44 of Cat and Mouse in a
Haunted House the word "BOO!" appears in large purple
capital letters, making it seem as bold as the ghost that
said it. On page 78, the word "creak" is drawn out with
a thin, jagged outline, conveying a feeling of tension and
3. Have students flip through the pages of a Geronimo Stilton
book of their choice. Ask them to find five to ten sentences
with onomatopoetic words that appear in regular typeface.
Then have them rewrite those sentences using pens, crayons,
and/or colored markers on paper. Encourage them to vary
the shape, color, and arrangement of the letters in the
onomatopoetic words to bring out the feelings and ideas
behind them (as described in the two examples above). Afterward,
ask volunteers to explain why they wrote the onomatopoetic
words the way they did and how it might affect a reader's
understanding of those words.
4. Have volunteers read aloud their sentences, modulating their voices to reflect the actual sounds that inspired the onomatopoetic words. Then ask them to explain why they read aloud the onomatopoetic words the way they did and how it might affect a listener's perception of those words.
1. Encourage students to apply onomatopoeia to their daily
lives. Ask them to choose one setting or scenario from a
normal school day. Have them list five to ten things in
that setting that make sounds and then come up with words
that imitate those sounds. (Example: chalk against a blackboard,
squeak squeak; a clock in motion, tick tock; a book being
dropped, plop; etc.) Then tell students to use each of their
onomatopoetic words to write a few paragraphs that tell
about the setting in detail.
2. Interactive: Help students apply onomatopoeia to a context outside of their
normal environment. Have them close their eyes while listening
to nature CDs featuring sounds from rain forests, oceans,
and other natural places. (Such recordings can easily be
found wherever music is sold.) Then ask students to try
to identify the sources of those sounds and come up with
onomatopoetic words based on them. Write their responses
on a T-chart with one column labeled "source of sound" and
the other "onomatopoetic word."
Teacher Observation: Were students able to identify onomatopoetic words, along with the real-life sources they are based on? Did the students read aloud examples of onomatopoeia and write them in a way that conveyed their understanding of them?
- Were the students successful or frustrated in their efforts to understand onomatopoeia?
- Did students have any difficulty applying onomatopoetic principles to their everyday world and beyond?
- Have students come up with nonsense words that are based on actual sounds. For example, "biddle-eep, biddle-eep, biddle-eep" could be the sound of a cell phone ringing. To give your class a head start, you may wish to list sources of sounds such as a car warming up, a person in boots walking on slushy snow, a bouncing ball, etc.