As humans, we like to create special words that stand for a group of things. More often than not, we do this with groups of animals, but it can also be done with objects, as seen on the cover of Ruth Heller's picture book A Cache of Jewels and Other Collective Nouns.
It's easy to find lists of actual collective nouns that primarily focus on animal groups on the Internet, but it's harder to find one that mixes animals with other nouns that can be in groups, like an armada of ships. Here is a link to a pretty good site with a combination of both: http://www.enchantedlearning.com/grammar/partsofspeech/nouns/collective/ Please ignore the flashing ads!
Your first task is to find two actual collective nouns that you really like but that you don't think others will have heard of before. You're looking for two new vocabulary words--for yourself, and for your classmates.
What's interesting about collective nouns, to me as a thinker, is the why behind them? Why that word to stand for that grouping? Do many crows make you think of a murder? Would seeing many unicorns be a blessing? A group of hummingbirds is called a charm, so was the person who made the word charmed by what he saw? As you examine the lists of actual collective nouns, keep asking yourself, "Why that word?"
Now that you've explored some interesting collective nouns, your second task here is to be creative and invent some collective nouns that don't exist but that sound like they would be appropriate. My wife and I do this while on car trips sometimes, and we come up with some pretty funny ones. The following collective nouns are not really collective nouns; they are supposed to be jokes.
- Question: What would you call a group of clumsy people? Answer: A stumble of klutzes!
- Question: What would you call a group of bad actors? Answer: A ham of performers!
- Question: What would you call a group of pigeons? Answer: A filth of pigeons!
- Question: What would you call a group of GT thinkers? Answer: An annoyance of students! (Just kidding)
Can you brainstorm and invent two collective nouns that don't exist but should? Can you create two that sound like they might actually be real even though they are jokes?
|On a page in your Writer's Notebook:
Illustrate a Four-Panel Celebration of Collective Nouns: two that are real and two that you make up.
Write a quality sentence that uses each of your four collective nouns. Make the two fake ones sound real!
Share your completed page with your Sacred Writing Time Partners to see if they can spot the real two!
Once your page is created, you will quiz your classmates by showing them your page and asking, "Which two are really collective nouns, and which two are ones that I made up?"
Need an example? Here's the page I created for my writer's notebook. What do you think? Let me know by telling me in class or--if you're not one of my own students--by e-mailing me: email@example.com. Can you create a writer's notebook page that's more original than mine? I'll bet you can...
| Delightful Samples from my Students' Notebooks
(Click on the images to see them in larger form)
|8th grader Rianna added her sentences with pull-out tabs. Click the image to see what I mean.
||7th grader Ryan--always one of my best writer's notebook keepers--had a delighftul page of collective nouns.
||8th grader Sierra combined both original pictures and computer clip-art to create her page of collective nouns.
||8th grader Ashlee fooled me as I tried to guess which two collective nouns were real and which two were fake. All are fake!
Return to the Top of the Page