Take the Portmanteau Challenge!

What You Need:

  • Paper
  • Pen
  • Markers or crayons

What You Do:

  1. Write the word “brunch” on a piece of paper. Explain to your child that a “brunch” is something that is eaten late in the morning—later than breakfast but, earlier than lunch. Then ask your child if she can figure out which two words were squished together to make up the word “brunch.” (Help your child come up with “breakfast” and “lunch.”)
  2. Explain that the word “brunch” is a portmanteau, a word that is made up of pieces from two smaller words.
  3. Encourage your child to come up with her own portmanteau. Give your child some examples if she is having a hard time, such as “tappy” (tired but happy), “wuice” (watered-down juice), or “digdozer” (a construction vehicle that looks like both a digger and a bulldozer).
  4. Once your child seems to have the hang of this activity, challenge her to brainstorm a list of portmanteaus. At the same time, you brainstorm a list on your own. Do not include the meaning of the portmanteaus on your list.
  5. Swap lists with your child. Try to guess the definitions of the portmanteaus on each other’s lists.
  6. Let your child illustrate one of the portmanteaus on the lists. The resulting picture may surprise you.
  7. If your child enjoys this activity, direct her to information about some interesting portmanteaus in real life. For example, try to figure out what a “liger” or “tiglon” is, or how “turducken” is made.

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