Words & Their Lineages

Word Association Game by Myrlin Hepworth (10 mins)

Note: Each round is one minute. Students are given a word and generate a list by writing words that associate/connect with the previous word. Below is an example: 

o    Sonoran 
o    Desert
o    Summer
o    Hot
o    Weather
o    Channel
o    Television

Students count the number of words they were able to generate. The student with the longest list reads their words out loud. Students who would like to have an opportunity to share with the class read their list. A new round begins. This is played two or three times. Students discuss what they notice about the similarities and differences between the lists of words generated. 

Funds of Knowledge Discussion (20 mins)

Students write using the following prompt:
    Where do words come from?

Turn & Talk Group Discussion:  Why are some words our favorites? Who chooses which words are smarter than others? Why do we have multiple words that mean the same thing? Who makes up words anyway?

Students are given a few minutes to discuss with their peers and then share out loud for each question. Common themes are documented on the board.

Students create their own word and definition, and share it with their group and/or class. 

Individual Writing (25 mins)

Students are given the middle of the line as a repetitive prompt:
    built out of

1.    Students choose their favorite word 
2.    Students write is/are built out of next to that word
3.    Students write the first word that comes to mind when thinking of their favorite word

Students use the new word to think of what that word is built out of and so on and so on. 

After a few times, the facilitator provides words such as freedom, life, hope, systems, and love.

On the next line, students rewrite that word and is/are built out of. Then students think of a new word that is associated with that word and write it down. Students keep going until the facilitator says stop. 

Sharing (5 mins)

Students are invited to share their writings with the class. (Optional)

Student Examples: 

Below is an example from Enrique M.—a middle school student CAPE School:


Patrick is built out of stars 
Stars is built out of fire
Fire is built out of gasoline
Gasoline is built out of chemicals
Chemicals is built out of products
Products is built out of clothes 
Clothes is built out of thread 
Thread is built out of string
String is built out of hair 
Hair is built out of humans
Humans is built out god 
god is built out of earth
Earth is built out of the universe
The universe is built out of plants
Plants is built out of seeds 
Seed is built out of pollen 
Pollen is built out of bees
Bees are built out of Jonathan

Below is an advanced example from Sammy L. – a high school student from CAPE School: 

Freedom & Government

Freedom is built out of laws
Laws are made by the government
The government control the justice system
The justice system has no justice
Justice is given by the judge 
The judge works for the government
The government includes the cops
Cops are what brought us here
here? we’re in jail
Jail? is ran by the government 
Government is what gives us freedom
Freedom was taken by the government 
Laws=no freedom
We have no freedom because of the government



Education Level: 

Junior High
High School




Lesson Plan

Time Frame: 

60 minutes

Prior Knowledge/Skills: 


Required Materials: 

Paper, pencil

Literary model: 


Lesson Plan: