Friday, February 10, 2012

Compound Word Card Game

Compound words are like addition problems with words instead of numbers. For a math-loving boy like my son, that makes them extra cool. His first brush with the concept of combining two words was a GoGurt wrapper that had “star + rock = what?” ROCK STAR! (Okay, so this isn’t a REAL compound word, but it was the inspiration for this activity.)

After explaining what a compound word was, my son and I read Once There Was a Bull … Frog. Rick Walton's book is the perfect complement to this activity. It has TONS of compound words in it. After pointing out the first few, my son was able to identify most of the rest.

Now he was ready for my DIY compound word card game!

What you need:
  1. The cards. (Download the 11-page PDF of game cards here and print on heavyweight cardstock. Glue a layer of paper to the back so they’re not see-through; I used spray glue and colorful scrapbooking paper).
  2. Some type of small object to use with the Traffic Cop card. I made a plaster of paris molded LEGO minifigure and painted him like a police man. That’s, of course, not necessary. You could use anything – a large button, poker chip, dollar store police badge, small rock, etc.

How to Play
Shuffle all the cards. Deal 8 cards to each player. Place the remaining cards facedown on the table and flip over the top card. This is the beginning of the discard pile.

Each player should look at their cards. Any cards with compound words should be laid face-up on the table (e.g. cupcake, mailman, football). Any cards that contain words that are in that compound word should also be laid down (e.g. cup, man, ball) with the compound word card. All other cards are held in the player’s hand.

When it’s each player’s turn, they can choose to draw a card or pick up the card on top of the discard pile. Each player should discard a card with each turn.

If the draw pile becomes totally depleted, the discard pile can be reshuffled to continue play.
Make three matches (the stoplight cards above are an example). A match contains 3 cards: the compound word card (e.g. toothbrush), and the two cards that contain the words that it is made up of (e.g. tooth and brush). The first player to make three matches wins the game.
When a player plays the Sneaky Thief card by putting it in the discard pile, they can either:
  1. Pick a card at random from an opponent’s hand or
  2. Take a card from one of the unfinished matches that is laid face-up on the table. Finished matches, complete with all three cards, are off limits.
When the Sneaky Thief card is discarded, it cannot be picked up by the next player.

When a player plays the Traffic Cop card, he or she puts it in the discard pile, and moves the small object on top of one of the match piles an opponent is building. This prevents them from building that compound word match until they draw the traffic cop and can move the small object to one of their opponent’s piles.

Like the Sneaky Thief card, the next player cannot pick up the Traffic Cop card from the discard pile.

This was a GREAT way to help my son understand what a compound word is and help him identify them!

Since a lot of this game is based on luck, kids AND adults will have fun playing. (My son sure enjoyed beating me!)


  1. I'm a new follower! This is such a cute game- thanks for sharing!

    Quench Your First

  2. Very Cute Game! Thank you so much for sharing!

    First Grade Delight

  3. Ok, you have totally outdone yourself on this one! Seriously, the coolest thing ever! :)

    1. Thanks, Rachel!! This is one of those ideas I've been thinking about for a LONG time. It took a bit of work to make the cards but it was well worth it. My son and I BOTH had fun playing! :) The cards would be great for any number of uses. I plan to remove the compound word cards from the deck sometime and see how many my son can put together on his own.

  4. What a great game were doing compound words now. Can't wait to try this game;)

  5. This is so awesome!!! as always :) May I ask how you convert your pdf into jpegs..I see that you use google docs.. Is it possible to upload your word documents into google docs? Thanks so much for sharing this with us at Sharing Saturday.


    1. MiaB, thanks for the compliments! Yes, you can upload Word documents to Google docs. These cards were created using Microsoft Publisher, a program that's often sold with the entire Microsoft suite of products (I had it on my machine without even knowing it until a friend suggested I look!). It's easy to save projects as PDFs and as JPEGs. Uploading to Google Docs is a snap too. Good luck and if you run into trouble, e-mail me!

  6. Thanks for linking up to Serenity Saturday
    Hope to can join us again tomorrow


  7. This is great! I have pinned it onto my Pinterest Board and hope to use this over the Spring Break.

  8. I would love to try this in French, the language I am teaching my children. I bet this game would work in many languages (if the parent or teacher had the patience and skills to create it). Thank you for the inspiration!

    (This is what my homemade French card games typically look like:

  9. Thank you millions I have played this game endless tines and the children love it. Are there any similar ones to practice question words like what where etc. Once again thanks