teaching resource

Compound Word Smash Up!

Teach Starter Publishing
Google Slide, PDF | 10 pages | Grades: 1 - 2

Help students practice creating compound words by matching 15 compound word cards with their corresponding decoded word cards.

A compound word is made of 2 or more different words that, when combined, make a brand new word with a different meaning. 

For example, take the compound word “starfish.” When broken up you get “star” (a shape) and “fish” (an animal). Combined, the new word becomes the name of an ocean creature.

Understanding what makes compound words unique is especially helpful when teaching students how to decode unfamiliar words. They learn to break it up by its syllables to more easily recognize known words. Therefore…

Pancake becomes pan + cake. 

Football becomes foot + ball. 

Rainbow becomes rain + bow.

And so on. 

In this activity, students will explore and build these kinds of words by matching each word part card to its decoded compound word. 

How to Play Our Compound Word Game

This compound words practice game can be used as a reading center activity, or for individual instruction with your guided reading group.

To play Compound Word Smash Up!, shuffle all the cards and place them facing down in rows. Players take turns flipping one of each card (long and short) to match the word parts card to its decoded compound word. For example, if a student pulls the long card “🧈 butter + 🪰 fly” and the short card “🦋 butterfly” they would get a match. 

If the cards match, the player puts them aside to keep score and takes another turn. If the cards do not match, the cards are flipped back over for the next player’s turn. The player with the most matches wins!

Get More Activities out of Compound Word Smash Up!

We didn’t end this compound words practice here. Take this activity to new heights by getting your whole glass engaged! 

Find Your Match

Mix up the cards and provide each student in your class with either a long picture card or a short picture card. Challenge students to find their matching card—the compound word (short card) and its matching word pair (long card). For an extra challenge, make the activity a race, or ask the students to complete the task in silence!

Scoot Activity

Place only the long picture cards around the room. Ask students to stand up with a blank piece of paper as a recording sheet. Assign one card to each student to start, having students rotate through each of the cards, writing the compound word the pictures represent. 

(NOTE: We suggest printing a second set of cards for this activity that you can number.)

Class Lesson

Reverse engineer compound words! For this activity, students will be shown the compound word and will split each up into its 2 distinct words. To start, have students take out a blank sheet of paper. Then use your smartboard to project one compound word (the short card) at a time, giving students a set time frame (20 seconds or so) to break the compound word into its separate words. 

Change the Difficulty Level if Needed

Students who are taking to the content can extend this activity by putting the compounded words in alphabetical order.

If you have students who are having trouble with compound words, refer them to a visual reminder of compound words, like a word wall, poster, or anchor chart

Easily Prepare This Resource for Your Students

Print the task cards on cardstock for added durability and longevity. Place all game parts in a folder or large envelope for easy access. 

Before You Download

Use the drop-down icon on the Download button to choose between the PDF or Google Slides version of this resource. An answer key is also included with this download.

This resource was created by Lindsey Phillips, a teacher in Michigan and a Teach Starter Collaborator. 


Looking for more fun and engaging activities to help your students understand compound words? Check these out:

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A set of 20 compound word cards to use in a matching game.

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Combining Words - Compound Word Worksheets for Kids

A worksheet to consolidate students' understanding of compound words.

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