Don't Worry-Alliteration & Onomatopoeia Help Us

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SWBAT describe how words and phrases, including alliteration and onomatopoeia, supply rhythm and meaning in a poem.

Big Idea

Warthogs help kids learn about alliteration and onomatopoeia.


I chose these 2 books because they have great examples of alliteration and onomatopoeia. The Slop of Soup book is simpler, but really uses great wording. I used it to model for the students. The Worrywarts book has both alliteration and onomatopoeia, so I used for the guided practice and students' independent practice.

Let's Get Excited!

5 minutes

Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wall. I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics.  The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary.  My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words.


Common starting point

  • "I brought a story and 'free verse' poem today that use some wording that brings meaning to many kinds of poetry."
  • "We've already talked about how repetition, rhyming, repeated words are used in poetry. Today we'll discuss 2 more kinds of special words and phrases that add meaning. These are called onomatopoeia and alliteration."
  • "These help us read the sounds in words more clearly."  Write that on the leaves of the tree (if you're using it).


This is one of the later lessons in my poetry unit. I used the 'poetry tree' in all of my lessons in this unit to create a tool that pulled together all of the ideas and kinds of poetry. The kinds of poem are listed down the trunk and the ways that poetry help us are listed on the leaves. I discussed repetition, rhyming and repeated words in my other lessons, including Poetry: What Is It?Dogs and Haikus: What's the Plot?Poetry Takes ShapeSynonym Adjective Verb-Put Them In A Cinquain and Reading Acrostics: Poetry of Letters, Pieces of Meaning in Free Verse Poetry and Long Vowels and Limericks: Looking at Poetry.  I used a 'Poetry Tree' for the whole unit and added ideas as we read different kinds of poems.

Teacher's Turn

15 minutes

Give the purpose of the lesson

  • "In our previous lessons, we've talked about some poetry features - rhyming words, repetition, and rhythm that add meaning to the poem. I put repeating words on the board - there are examples of that in our stories today."
  • "Today we are going to look at 2 more ways that authors use words and phrases to bring meaning to a story. They help us use our imagination and senses to interact with the story. I also have those 2 features on the board. We'll be making a list of the words in the story that use these features."  Put on the powerpoint.
  • "Then we'll read one book together, looking at onomatopoeia and another book with alliteration and onomatopoeia."
  • Take a look at how I set up the purpose for the lesson.


Explain the ideas

  • "Onomatopoeia is using a word to represent a sound that it makes." (Examples on slide 1 and 2)  "Authors use onomatopoeia to help us add 'sound effects' to a story - we learn what the actions sounds like as it's happening."
  • "Cartoon writers use it to add sounds as well. It's very popular in comic books and cartoons." (slide 3)
  • "Authors use alliteration because it's fun to read words that start with the same words. Alliterations means words and phrases with the same beginning sound." (slide 4) Read for the kids so they can hear the fluency.
  • "Here are some examples of alliteration in literature - say them with me." (slide 5)
  • "Stores and companies sometimes use alliteration in their names - take a look at these famous companies." (slide 6)
  • This is a video of how I introduced the powerpoint lesson ideas.


Practice strategy - modeling & guided practice

  • "How do these ideas fit together with the warthog?" (slide 7)
  • "I have 2 books about warthogs with great examples of each of alliteration and onomatopoeia. I'll read the first one and we can find the onomatopoeia and analyze how it brings meaning to the story."
  • Read the first page of Slop Goes the Soup. "I'll stop now and reread this page - there's one example of alliteration to make it fun to read-'slop goes the soup'." Put those on the board. "There are 2 examples of onomatopoeia that help me imagine warthog sounds like when he sneezes and what the soup sounds like when it spills. Paying attention to these and reading these aloud helps me be an 'active reader', imagining and using my senses to interact with the story." Add those ideas on the whiteboard list.
  • "Let me read some more pages - keep listening for onomatopoeia, alliteration, rhythm, rhyming words, and repeating words."  Read together and get the kids' ideas about phrases and words.  Put more ideas on the whiteboard lists.
    • The kids helped me point out onomatopoeia on each page and we talked about how to say the word, showing the sound.  "Does that sound bring you into the story?"
    • I emphasized the rhythm by rereading the page twice - once with emphasis and pausing and one more monotone. "Is it fun to read with more rhythm? Does it make it easier to understand?"
    • There was more alliteration to point out on the 'plop goes the pudding' page.  "Let's read the together... that's fun to read and emphasize the /p/ sound!" Here's how we added words to the list for this example.
    • There were several pages of repeating words. "Why does the author do that?" (to show the pudding is bubbling over and over, to show there is a lot of laughter)
  • Here's what the whiteboard looked like when we were done.

Students Take a Turn

20 minutes

Assign Task

  • "We'll be reading this other story, The WorryWarts together. It is a silly story about a family that worries about everything. It has TONS of alliteration."
  • "As we read, I want to listen for things that the characters worry about and make a list, like I did on the whiteboard."
  • "When we're done, we can compare ideas and see how long of a list we can make!"
  • This is how that direction to the kids looked like.


Read the story to/with the kids

  • Pass out the worksheets and point out the letters at the top of the page. Several of my students added a line so they could visually organize the paper. 
  • "I'll pause after each page. Try to write 1 or 2 words. Don't worry too much about spelling.  Let's see how much alliteration we can find."
  • As you read, pause after each page so the kids can write words.
  • There are only a few opportunities for 'sw' so put special emphasis on those. Here's how I prompted for 'sw' words.
  • As you read, ask the kids when they hear/see rhyme and rhythm in the story and any onomatopoeia. These aren't on the worksheet, but are still important poetry features.
  • Discuss how these bring meaning to the story and why the author uses these (see reflection).
  • This is a student's completed worksheet.

Apply This Idea

15 minutes

Discuss the theme of the story

  • "Let's talk about the theme of the story - 'worry'.
  • "Does anyone in this class worry about things?  sports? 'grades? moms and dads? Other things?"
  • "Here's some things to remember about worrying."
    • "Worrying is a normal thing, people all over the world worry about things.
    •  "If you talk with someone about your worries, it will help." (like the Guatemalan worry dolls)
    •  "Confronting your worries helps you overcome them (like the characters in the story)."
  • Pull up the last slide of the powerpoint (slide 8) - "Kids all over the world worry, just like you guys!. Students in Guatemala make 'worry dolls' to help them lessen their worries. Here's a quick picture. 
  • "I brought some 'dolls' for you to make today to help you with your worries." Pass out the doll templates. 
  • "I'll give you a minute cut out and color your own doll. List at least 2 things you worry about on the back of the doll and decorate the front."
  • Take a look at what this introduction sounded like with my class.
  • This is a picture of the completed project (front) and completed project (back).



  • We did spend a few minutes reflecting on this activity. The kids had LOTS of worries to share, once we got started. This is discussion about the powerpoint.
  • One of my kids commented that she really liked the alliteration. Here's what she shared about alliteration.


This theme of 'worrying' was too good to pass up with my 2nd graders, who worry about many things. I love attaching art activities to lessons about emotions and social skills. Several of my kids kept their 'dolls' in their desk for the rest of the year. It was a great chance to talk about managing emotions and we referred back to the idea of 'worrying' several times during the year.


Scaffolding and Special Education: This lesson could be easily scaffolded down, depending on student ability.

I would suggest having the students who struggle academically sit with a partner or write words on every other page. There was a lot of words that some of my kids wrote. You could also put words on the board for them to copy.