Onomatopoeia are words that sound like the … well, sounds … they represent. They include words like pop, chirp, and crunch. When we hear those words, it’s hard not to imagine the original sounds as well. In this project, students will receive three onomatopoeia words a prompts, then need to write a brief explanation of what happened to cause those sounds.

Think of it like this: Just as you open a door, you hear three odd sounds in quick succession, but you don’t get a chance to see what caused those sounds. You ask someone else who saw the whole thing what just happened, and this is what they say …

Draw the Prompts from a Hat

Before the lesson, write down a whole bunch of onomatopoeia, each on its own little slip of paper. Consider words like slap, honk, wham, moo, squish, squeak, meow, crackle, clang, sizzle, boom, hoot, squish, poof, splat, bark, ring, clap, rustle, baa, ding, knock, jingle, sigh, quack, hiccup, flop, oink, drip, pow, psst, thump, crash, neigh, zip, smack, shh, whoosh, roar, and thud. Feel free to add others you can think of, or ask your students the lesson before what onomatopoeia they know.

At the start of each round of this project, draw three sounds from a hat, then write them on the board.

What Just Happened?

Every round, each group of students should come up with a scenario that would result in those three sounds. They are not allowed to change the order of the sounds. Once they have their idea, they should write their answers down on a notecard or other small piece of paper, using a maximum of three sentences.

Give them two or three minutes to complete this task. The groups then submit your answers to you.

The Response

You then read them aloud to the whole class, not revealing which group submitted which answer. The students vote on which scenario (other than their own) was their favorite, and the winning team gets a point.


Do as many rounds as you like or have time for.

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