Activities for Abstract and Concrete Nouns

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Teaching the difference between abstract (intangible) and concrete (physical) nouns can be accomplished through several activities. These activities are designed to provide students with a challenging and fun opportunity to understand the principles behind these types of nouns. By using these activities, students will learn these grammatical tools and will be empowered to use these basic skills throughout their lives.

1 Shopping List

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To help students understand what a concrete noun is, have them create a shopping list for the grocery store or mall. Each letter of the alphabet must be represented on the list and must include concrete nouns that can actually be found in the type of store chosen.

Vocabulary Builder

2 Picture Activity

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For this abstract noun activity, you will need to create a list of 40 to 50 abstract nouns and give students access to several age-appropriate magazines. Students will need to use scissors and glue to successfully complete the activity.

Cut out the words on the list and have each student select one of the abstract nouns. Ask the student to define the abstract noun, then look through the magazines for pictures that demonstrate the word chosen. Students will then cut out the magazine pictures and glue them onto cardboard paper to create a collage.

To provide students with more of a challenge, have them find poems or quotations related to the abstract noun chosen. This activity can be modified to offer students a group-learning activity.

3 Play Acting Activity

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For this abstract noun activity, write a list of 10 abstract nouns on the chalkboard for students to choose from. Each student takes a turn by selecting a noun from the list and then acts out the word. The activity can be modified so that only one student is shown the abstract noun and the other students are allowed to guess the word based on the first student's actions.

4 Classified Ad Activity

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This activity will require you to prepare and provide each student with a list of concrete nouns. Students then write a brief classified ad for each noun on the list, including a detailed description of the item, possible uses and a price.

5 Combining Activity

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Teaching students to identify the differences and similarities between concrete and abstract nouns can be accomplished with this activity. On the chalkboard, write a sentence that combines an abstract and concrete noun. For example, "Love is like candy." Have the students discuss or write why the sentence is true. Possible responses might be that they are both sweet or that they are both wrapped in pretty packages. As students catch on to the activity, have them come up with sentences of their own.

Lou Martin has been writing professionally since 1992. His work has appeared in the "Los Angeles Times," the "Long Beach Press-Telegram" and the "Deseret Morning News." Martin holds a Bachelor of Science in history and communication.