Students become wordsmiths by inventing a new word and definition. They pick two words at random from a dictionary and combine or merge them to create a new word. They then devise a meaning based on the entries for the two starting words.
E.g. cardigan + radiator = cardiator: A jumper which is cool on the inside and warm on the outside. It cools you down by taking the heat away from your body and transferring it to the outside of the material. Anyone you hug will be toasty!
In groups of three, each wordsmith asks the other two students to come up with alternative definitions for their word.
E.g. Cardiator: A machine used by magicians to practice their card tricks. It replaces the need for a human volunteer, so no-one gets to see the slight of hand involved until the magician is perfectly tricktastic!
E.g. Cardiator: A device worn by speed daters. The cardiator measures your heart rate while you are chatting with potential dates. At the end of the session the cardiator tells you who is the most likely to set your pulse racing!
Each group picks the best word and set of definitions, which they then present to the rest of the class.
Classmates vote on which definition they think is the original.
The wordsmith reveals the original definition and explains how the word was formed e.g. by merging cardigan and radiator.
4. Extension activity
Judy Pearsall, from the Oxford University Press, explains how a word gets into the Oxford English Dictionary. She said : "We have readers who go through various sources, from websites and journals to books and even comics. Anywhere you can think of where the written word is collected. Then what we do is use a points system where we judge each word on a certain criteria."
Students write a list of the criteria they think are used.
Va-va-voom is onomatopoeic because it sounds like the noise of a car engine. Students write down a list of words which describe other car noises. They can be existing words or invented ones. What word would describe these sounds?: