Lesson plan

Sounds Familiar!

Reading is about to come alive with onomatopoeia! In this lesson students will learn to differentiate between alliteration and onomatopoeia and practice determining how onomatopoeia is used by authors to convey rich meaning.
Grade Subject View aligned standards
  • Students will be able to distinguish between characteristics of onomatopoeia and alliteration, using context to determine meaning.
  • Students will be able to determine how onomatopoeia is used by the author to create rich sounds that enhance the meaning of a text.
(5 minutes)
  • Post two pieces of chart paper on a wall in the room, labeled “Alliteration” and “Onomatopoeia.”
  • Distribute two sticky notes to each student.
  • Invite students to write what they know about alliteration or onomatopoeia on each of the sticky notes.
  • Ask students to post their thinking on either piece of chart paper.
  • Give the students the opportunity to participate in a gallery walk in which they read the other students’ writing.
  • Tell the students that they will be learning about two kinds of figurative language that have special sounds.
(5 minutes)
  • Write the definitions of alliteration and onomatopoeia on the corresponding chart paper. Explain that alliteration is when two or more connected words sound alike. Onomatopoeia is the use of words that match actual sounds. Onomatopoeia contributes to the rich meaning of the text.
  • Write the following sentence (or sentence of choice) on the board: Ava ate apricots all week.
  • Using a think aloud, point out the repetition of the long A sound in the first three words.
  • Tell the students that the words sound alike, which is called alliteration, but the meaning of the sentence is not affected by the similar sounds.
  • Write the following sentences (or sentences of choice) on the board: Swish! The basketball player shot the basketball into the hoop during the last five seconds of the game.
  • Tell the students that the word “swish” contributes to the meaning of the sentence because it describes the sound the ball makes as it goes through the net. This is an example of onomatopoeia.
(10 minutes)
  • Tell the students that it is now their turn to work on determining how alliteration and onomatopoeia are used, and how these writing techniques contribute to the meaning of the texts.
  • Display the lesson plan attachment I Spy the Word on an interactive whiteboard or write the sentences on a piece of chart paper. Then post on the board.
  • Invite the students to toss the small plush ball at one of the words that shows alliteration or onomatopoeia.
  • Ask the students to explain the author’s techniques in using that word. Does the sound of that word in the text contribute to a deeper meaning? Is it alliteration or onomatopoeia? What is the meaning of the word in the context that it is used?
(15 minutes)
  • Ask the students to complete the worksheet Look for the Sounds.
  • Circulate around the room and assist as needed.


  • Ask the students to complete the All Kinds of Sounds worksheet.
  • Invite students to use a resource that contains onomatopoeia such as the book, Hear! Here!: Sounds around the World by Michele B. Slung. Ask the students to write creative sentences that include onomatopoeia from other languages. Pair students and give them the opportunity to use context clues to determine the meaning of the onomatopoeia.


  • For students who have need extra practice in identifying onomatopoeia, have the students match animal onomatopoeia sounds in the worksheet, Sounds Like an Animal.
  • Challenge students to create a visual, digital representation of a sentence that includes alliteration or onomatopoeia.
  • Ask students to make up their own sentences with alliteration and onomatopoeia using a digital document. Have students share their document with the other students and comment on their partner’s work.
  • To enhance the effects of the sounds of alliteration and onomatopoeia, give the students the opportunity to record their voices as they read sentences that contain alliteration and onomatopoeia, such as the sentences contained in the guided or independent practice.
(5 minutes)
  • Ask students to complete a journal reflection. How are alliteration and onomatopoeia similar and different?
  • Challenge students to give one example of each type of language and explain how the author can use the words to enhance the meaning of the text.
(5 minutes)
  • Use the activity, Numbered Heads Together. Divide students into small groups of four or five.
  • Ask the students to count off, numbering one to five.
  • Ask the students to share what they learned with their small group.
  • Randomly choose a number. Ask a student with that number from each group to share what they discussed.

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