Compound Words for Kids Teaching Tips & 250+ Examples

March 13, 2023

Sarah Shelton

Sarah Shelton

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A new skill in language arts that is common for 1st and 2nd graders is learning about compound words and how to create them. There are many fun activities to help teach compound words for kids.Compound Words for Kids Teaching Tips & 250+ Examples text with image of child writing in a school book at a desk.

Compound Words for Kids

There are so many grammar concepts to teach kids. From teaching contractions, rhyming words, and how to write sentences, to more complex topics. Today, we will focus on teaching compound words for kids.

What are Compound Words?

Compound words are two separate words that are put together to form a single new word. These words show up in reading, writing and everyday conversation. They  have their own meanings that are different than the meanings of each individual word they are made from.

This can make them a little tricky to learn how to use them. There are many different types of compound words to learn and understand the proper usage of.

Identifying Compound Words

Identifying compound words is a great way to build your child’s vocabulary skills. While you are reading with your children have them look at bigger words and see if those can be broken down into two separate words. This will help them in their understanding of compound words and how they are created.

Types of Compound Words

Closed Compound Words

Closed compound words are compound words that do not have a space between the simple words. Closed compound words are the most commonly used words when teaching children to identify compound words.

Closed Compound Words Examples

  • Key + Board = keyboard
  • Book + Store – bookstore
  • Rail + Road = railroad
  • Base + Ball = baseball

Open Compounds

Open compound words have a space between the smaller words. The words seem like separate words because of the space, but you read them together as one word and not two separate words.

Open Compounds Examples

  • Cotton + Candy = Cotton Candy
  • Black + Eye = Black Eye
  • Cell + Phone = Cell Phone

Hyphenated Compounds

Hyphenated compounds are compound words that contain a hyphen in the middle of the word. The hyphen is what connects the words to create a compound word.

Hyphenated Compound Words Examples

  • Check + In  = check-in
  • Know + How = know-how
  • In + Law = In-law

Noun + Noun Compound Words Example

Cup + Cake = Cupcake

Adjective + Noun Compound Words Example

Green + House = Greenhouse

Noun + Adjective Compound Words Example

Sky + Blue = Sky-Blue

Verb + Noun Compound Words Example

Slam + Dunk= Slam-dunk

Why do kids need to learn compound words?

Learning compound words is an important skill for early readers. When children move on from reading simple one-syllable words to a more complex word they will gain new skills and broaden their vocabulary. They will also be learning more complex words with different meanings.

The more that they practice combining words the more confidence they will gain in their reading and reading comprehension.

Compound Words for Kids

When two small words are combined they create a longer word called a compound word. These longer words are so much fun to teach young learners because they have their own meaning separate from the words that they are made from.

Your kids will get excited when they realize that simple words can make up a whole new and different word.

Fun Ways to Teach Compound Words

It is a lot of fun to help your kids take a long word and separate it into two smaller words. There are many way to do this to keep your kids engaged and excited about what they are learning. These hands-on activities don’t even feel like school work.


You can easily use flashcards to teach compound words. You can create your own flashcards with index cards. Take a compound word and separate it into its two words on separate cards. Then have your children put the cards together and read the name of the compound word they words created. 

Compound Word Activities

Some of the best ways to teach about compound words is with printable compound word games. Games are the easiest way to get your kids excited about learning new concepts. 

Worksheets are also a great option for kids that can use the extra repetition. Try a compound word worksheets pdf file which should have a word list that you can use to practice with. You can even make an anchor chart of words to hang up as an easy reference.

Match the Compound Words

A really fun way to learn anything is by using printable matching games. Kids love matching things together and visually seeing the connection between two things. 

You can teach your children how to match compound words with picture cards or writing down words. Have your children match the two words together that will make up a new compound word. 

Free Compound Words Cut and Paste PDF

Help your kids practice putting together compound words with this fun compound words for kids activity pack. 

cut and paste compound word pages

Draw the Compound Word

A great activity for visual learners is to have them see what a compound word looks like. Gather a list of compound words and give your child a sheet of paper. Have them choose a few words from the list to write down. Help them to separate each word into two words by drawing the separated words.

If you have the word cupcake have them separate the words into cup and cake. Have them draw a cup under the word cup and then have them draw a cake. They will be able to visually see that the word cupcake is made up of two entirely different words that hold different meanings.

Compound Word Building Cards

Compound word building cards are one of many word building activities to help visual learners understand compound words. You can find many options online or you can create your own. 

To make your own compound building cards you will need a list of compound words, cardstock or  and index card and a marker. Write down the compound words from the list onto their own cards. Then write the words that make up that word on separate cards.

Let’s take the word baseball as an example. Write down the word baseball and hand that card to your child. Then write base on one card, and ball on another card. Your children can use these cards like puzzle pieces and then piece the words together to make the compound word on the other card.

scrabble letter for word building activities

Identifying Compound Words in Stories

Young readers enjoy sitting down and reading with a parent. This is a great way to identify compound words while you are reading a story together. As your child is reading, point out the compound words that you come across.

Ask them why it is a compound word and see if they recognize the two separate words that make up that single word. This is a fun activity to do together. Before you know it, your children will be identifying and pointing out compound words every time they are reading.

Examples of Compound Words for Kids

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