ABSTRACT NOUNS  - Poster, List, Definition, Worksheets, Activities

Abstract nouns refer to a state quality or feeling. They cannot be perceived by any of the five senses.

The following resources are designed to be used when you           are introducing this concept.  You will find:

  1. a "What is an abstract noun poster" that has a handy definition
  2. an abstract noun list
  3. three worksheets that explore abstract noun examples in sentences
  4. twelve activity ideas                                                                                                                                          

All of these are designed to be used in the classroom when you are exploring the concept of abstract nouns with your students.

1. What is an Abstract Noun? -  Poster

This "What is an Abstract Noun?" poster outlines a simple definition - Abstract nouns refer to a state, a quality or a feeling.  They cannot be perceived byany of the five senses.

One or two students can colour in the poster and it can be put on a notice board or in a writing area.  The whole class can discuss what the five senses are and look at the definition more closely.  Abstract nouns cannot be perceived by the five senses means that they can't be seen, touched, smelt, heard or tasted.  If students want to know if a noun is abstract or not they simply ask if it can be seen, touched, smelt, heard or tasted.  If it can't then it must be an abstract noun.

2. Abstract Noun List

Here is a list full of 100 examples.  Print out A4 versions and students can glue them in their books.  Print out an A3 version and it can be put on the classroom wall or in the writing area.  A simple rotating writing activity is to put the list in the middle of a table and ask students to write a sentence with two of the words in it and then draw an illustration to go with it.

3. Five Worksheets

Here are five worksheets that you can use with your students.  

4. Twelve Activity Ideas

If you want your students to be able to identify and really understand abstract nouns then your students need to spend time playing with them. Here are 12 classroom activities that will get your students exploring and manipulating abstract nouns.

1. What Word am I Acting Out                                                                     List 10 abstract nouns on the board and ask 1 or 2 students at a time to come out the front and act them out. For a fun twist, the student at the front could be shown the word and the class must guess what it is.If the class is enjoying this activity you can explore it further.  Ask each student to write a word on a piece of paper.  All the words are put in a container and then used for the game. Older students can write a whole sentence to be put in the container and two or three students can act it out.  For example, The girls were disappointed when their ball went over the fence

2. What is the Opposite of This Word?                                                      Write 10 abstract nouns on the board and ask your students to write an abstract noun that has the opposite meaning. Here are 10 words you could use: trust, stupidity, sanity, pride, beauty, calm, crime, curiosity, laughter and happiness.

3. Feeling, Idea and Quality - Which One is This?                                    Abstract nouns are always a feeling, idea or quality.  Write 3 headings on the board: Feelings, Ideas, and Qualities. Challenge your students to list abstract nouns under each heading. This works especially well with small groups competing against each other -give them 30 minutes and a large poster size sheet of paper to write the lists on.  Start with two or three words under each heading to get them started.

4. Happiness is like........                                                                                 Many abstract nouns refer to feelings. Challenge your students to think of similes for happiness and unhappiness. Let them think of the words on their own for a few minutes and then let them look in a thesaurus. They should come up with words like joy, delight, satisfaction, excitement, pleasure, cheerfulness, enjoyment, contentment, glee, and laughter for happiness and sadness, disappointment, misery, sorrow, depression and gloom for unhappiness. If this is to difficult for your students write examples on the board for them to put into the two groups (happiness/sadness)

5. Abstract and Concrete Partners                                                              Write sentences that combine the abstract nouns with concrete words. For example, affection is like a night light. Ask your students to write or discuss reasons why this is so. Their suggestions may be that they both make you feel safe, help you see obstacles, need to be powered by something, don't cost very much and come in all different shapes. You could try, isolation is like a cheesy pizza, happiness is like a new book or freedom is like a warty toad.

6. Jumble up the Letters                                                                         Jumble the letters up and challenge your students to work out what they are. Try RGNAE (anger), OJY ((joy), ARAMRIGE (marriage), OERFEDM(freedom), HLEWAT (wealth), ETIXECEMNT (excitement).

7. Post It Notes                                                                                           Write them on post-it-notes and give them to small groups of students. Challenge each group to stick the notes in an appropriate place in the classroom. This works well if the children are given time to tell the class why they put the notes where they did. Love may end up on a heater (becausethey are both warm) and loneliness may end up on a table far at the back of the class.

8. Alphabet lists                                                                                     Write an alphabetical list, one word for each letter of the alphabet.  Words can be sourced from anywhere: memory, discussions, this list or a dictionary.  For more of a challenge write a backwards alphabetical list.  Start at Z and work your way up to A.  For something a bit different, find a word for each letter of your first, middle and last name.If you have limited time find a word for each letter of your first name.

9. Talk to a friend                                                                                     Talk to a friend and use one or two abstract nouns in your conversation.  For more of a challenge ask two people to talk and let the class or a small group listen and then write down any abstract nouns they use.  These can then be used to create sentences. Another version of this is to read a page from a book and ask your students to write down any abstract nouns that they hear. 

To extend this further ask your students to write an abstract noun they heard in a sentence at the bottom of a page and then draw an illustration to go with it above.  This activity will naturally lead to a discussion about how you draw something that can't be perceived by our senses.  Students may need to rely on facial expressions that show emotion like anger or use symbols to convey ideas like peace or justice.

10. Class Collection                                                                   Class collections are lots of fun and many students love the challenge of finding as many words as they can.  Make a class collection of abstract nouns.   Fill up a door, window or notice board with colored rectangles that have abstract nouns written on them. Draw a giant bag on cardboard and invite students to help fill it up. Create a brick wall out of coloured paper (red) with a new word on each one.

11. Choose a Subject                                                                         Choose any subject and write 3 abstract nouns that relate to it.  For clowns you  could write happiness, jokes and  stunts.  For graveyard you could write death, sadness and grief.  For food you could write hunger and satisfaction.

12. Put it in a Painting                                                                           Paint a picture of something that you have done: playing at the beach, walking through a forest, reading a book, opening presents.  In black marker, write related  words on strips of paper and glue them all around the picture or write a sentence below the picture with the abstract nouns highlighted or written in a different colour.

Links to Abstract Nouns Resources on Other Sites

  1.  lists, examples in sentences and examples in quotes  http://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-abstract-nouns.html                                                                                                                                                                                                    
  2. digital download of classroom resources  http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Language-Concrete-and-Abstract-Nouns-Printables-with-CCSS-403107                                                                
  3. music video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jRsMDqk3Do                              

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