Onomatopoeia- A Hook

The following post is my attempt to clarify how I go about conceiving and constructing lessons. If you’d just like the source files and could care less how I think (which I imagine is the majority), they are linked at the bottom of the page.

This is how I ended up with this fairly interesting introduction to onomatopoeia. Yesterday, I found a tutorial on how to make cartoon style lettering for comics using Photoshop at EEight.com. It looked like fun and I figured since Jim was going to be hitting poetry pretty soon, and I had some time during Spring Break to try things, I’d give it a shot. I think I found it using StumbleUpon which is a great site that lets you find some really odd things and that in turn tends to inspire me to make some interesting lesson. I try to keep the question “Can I use this to teach something?” in the back of my head at all times.

The first thing I did was brainstorm all the onomatopoeia words I could think of. The main one that kept coming to mind was crash and that led to the association with crash course- finally! an excuse to use the crash sound in a presentation. With that title, “A Crash Course in Onomatopoeia” in mind I set out to make my introductory material.

When I became brainlocked, I googled “list of onomatopoeia” and found this site which has a decent list.
tiger roar


So now that I had some good fun keywords in my head, I went over to FlickrCC to see what I could find. Nothing fancy here, I just started typing in the keywords and browsing the photos that came up. I do a lot of image searching initially. Images are key. I tend to open a bunch in tabs, while I keep browsing and then go back and cull the results. I usually download 10 or 20 more images than I end up using.

So, I end up putting in all my pictures and doing the photoshop trick to make comic book style lettering for all the onomatopoeia but it’s not working as a whole. The pictures are neat and the lettering is cool but it’s not there. I realize I have no story, no unifying thread. So I went back and made a narrative that involved all the onomatopoeia and worked in the images fairly well (and the vocabulary is pretty decent as well). It’s a deliberately odd story (view the notes) that involves shorn dreadlocks, tigers, vengeance and narcolepsy. There’s some decent vocabulary in it and it uses alliteration and irony to add some other things to talk about. Use it or create your own.

One of the projects I’d think about having kids do is create three different images with text that represents onomatopoeia (or other poetic devices like personification) and then I’d create a master folder where all the images would go and the students would have to draw out 7 or so images and create three specific types of poems or stories using the image/onomatopoeia combinations.

I wrote this in an attempt to figure out, for myself, how I come up with ideas for interesting lessons. If you’ve made it this far, I salute you.

If you want the file it’s here in Powerpoint and here in Keynote II.

Edit —> and in Google Slides (although I think the sounds end up removed)

Comments on this post

  1. Ben said on April 11, 2007 at 9:38 pm

    You don’t give your readers nearly enough credit, Tom 🙂

    I love your thought process for creating that hook or anticipatory set. Especially when it involves getting creative with a graphics program 🙂 The kids would get to gain some new techical skills, while having a blast with their poetry.

  2. Tom said on April 12, 2007 at 7:30 am

    Thanks Ben and I do salute you for wading through all that. I’m not a big fan of long posts and I wasn’t really sure how much value this would have for others but I like to see how people think so I opted to post it.

    I often wonder why some teachers opt not to evaluate/reflect on what they do in the classroom and then I realized it’s pretty hypocritical of me not to do the same thing with all the aspects of what I do. One of the major ones I’ve never really looked at is how I get the ideas for and then create lesson plans and hooks. So I decided to exchange hypocrisy for action.


  3. Keisa said on April 14, 2007 at 8:50 pm

    Thank you so much for creating this. I am an elementary school librarian and I will definitely use your PPT as my anticipatory set this month (Poetry Month). I am also working with middle school students using figurative language. This is perfect. Thanks for sharing!

  4. jon hayes said on April 26, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    Thanks Tom, this is great. I love the idea of using photos with language and poetry. Also, I think that flickr is a great tool and could be really useful here. Imagine creating poems for other people’s images and posting them as comments? That would be fun too.

  5. Tom Woodward said on May 10, 2007 at 9:38 pm


    They do something like that with flickr fiction but it’s not focused in the comments.

    I have seen something like that somewhere but I think they were switching lines in the comments.

    I’d like to see a clean version I could show to students but it might be hard to keep things that way with fairly open comments in flickr- maybe registered users for a blog?

    If you end up pursuing it let me know, I’d like to see it.


    Glad it was useful for someone else.


  6. Mikawika said on May 14, 2008 at 10:33 am

    Just want to thank you for the ppt. THe visual are great! I am going to try and use them in my ESL class tomorrow.

    Keep up the good work.

  7. Brent said on September 27, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    I think it is a very creative idea and I am going to use it. My quest is to liven up my lessons and I know this will fit the bill! You must be a hoot to work with. Thanks.

  8. aleeya said on November 12, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    I just wanted to say thank you for mentioning my site in your article. The word play category I have created seems to be pretty popular and I am glad it had some useful information for you

  9. Carrie said on January 10, 2009 at 12:18 am

    I was trying to download the powerpoint but it is not going. What do I need to do? I would like to use it in my class.

  10. Tom said on January 10, 2009 at 7:49 am

    Carrie- I’m not sure what the problem is. It should download as a zip file and it seems to work for me. Let me know if it’s still failing and i’ll try something else.

  11. erica said on January 10, 2009 at 8:01 am

    I was able to DL the pp presentation, but when I go and try to open it with PP 2007, I get the following message and it will not open. I have my AV off.

    The presentation cannot be opened. Your antivirus program may prevent you from opening the presentation. To fix this problem, make sure your antivirus program is current and working correctly. If the problem persists and the presentation is from someone that you trust, turn off your antivirus program, and then try to open the presentation again. If you do this, make sure you turn on your antivirus program again after you open the presentation.

    Though just FYI I had this EXACT same problem with some word documents I had on one of my sites.. somehow MS Word corrupted some .Doc files and I could not open them with office, but I could open them in open office and other office programs. Others had the same problem, so I had to go back and save my docs as a PDF file

    It was some kinda of MS Office bug that actually caused it.

    I AM able to open this PP document in Open OFfice – it is again a MS PP Office bug

    • Tom said on January 10, 2009 at 10:33 am


      Appreciate the details. That seems to echo what i see happening.

      I think the issue here is that I made the presentation in Keynote and exported to PPT. There seems to be an issue with playing Keynote exported PPTs in Office 07. They work fine in the older Office. It is frustrating. I wonder if the new iWork will fix it.


  12. KASHMIRA said on January 23, 2009 at 9:36 am

    Thanks. great site. was looking for something on onomatopoeia for school project.

  13. Kerry said on February 18, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    I am using this as a quick review for my 7th graders. They know the term, but I wanted to refresh their memory. Thank you for making a funny and cute powerpoint that my students will totally love – I am going to ask them to make the sounds they see on the screen…that should get interesting!

  14. scott said on March 6, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    thanks for the powerpoint, I am going to use it on my practicum. Great stuff!

  15. Jessica said on March 8, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    This is awesome!!

    We just got a new smartboard in my class and the kids love to see things projected up there. This is GREAT. Thanks for taking the time to do it.

  16. Jasmine J. said on March 28, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    i like the examples of onomatopoeia

  17. Trish Haugh said on April 8, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Wow! thanks for the great ppt presentation on onomatopoeia. This is a great way to introduce and create visual learning links for kids. I really appreciate that you are willing to share it. Best of luck with your continued career.

  18. Becca said on August 27, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Excellent! This is really neat and very helpful for us teachers.

  19. Irene said on January 19, 2011 at 10:43 am

    Tom, can you please email me a copy of your onomatopoeia power point? It looks wonderful but i am unable to download it! Thank you so much!

  20. Tom said on January 20, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    The links seems to work for me. It’s too large to email but I also uploaded it to Google Docs. Here’s that link.

  21. L Fox said on July 31, 2011 at 7:56 pm


  22. mary said on February 5, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    u have given me a great idea for a project.



    • Tom Woodward said on February 7, 2013 at 4:57 pm

      Ha! Nice to see this is still useful. It’s been a while.

  23. lnewtie said on March 11, 2015 at 7:23 am

    I’ve tried to open in in Google Docs also. It said there is an error in the program. I’m sad because I loved your pictures!

    • Tom Woodward said on March 11, 2015 at 8:30 am

      The PPT link still works on my end. I did upload it to Google Slides as well now so maybe that’ll work for you.