Compound Word Puzzles

Looking for a fun way to teach kids about compound words?! These picture-only word puzzles are a memorable tool for showing how two words can be combined to make a brand new word. They’re great to use as a whole class lesson, guided reading activity, literacy center or homeschool game.

Learn how words can be put together to create new ones with these fun compound word puzzles!

What Are Compound Words?

At this stage, kids already know that words can be broken down into sounds (like c-a-t), but compound words teach them that some words can be broken down into parts that have different meanings. This is important as more complex words are introduced into their reading and writing.

Learning about compound words will help kids understand:

  • Prefixes: such as de- (which means ‘opposite’). For example, demystify and debark.
  • Suffixes: such as –able (which means ‘can be done’). For example, comfortable, adorable.
  • Word roots: many of our words originated in Greek or Latin. For example, audi- means ‘hear’ in Latin, and we have audience and audible in English.

There are three types of compound words:

  1. Closed (for example, fingerprint)
  2. Hyphenated (son-in-law)
  3. Open (post office)

These puzzles are all closed form compound words. Kids love them because they can take two simple words they know how to write and create a much longer, much more impressive looking word by putting them together!

These compound word puzzles are a really fun way to start thinking about how some words are structured!

Getting Ready

I downloaded the printable (below) and printed it onto cardstock. Then I cut out the individual pieces and popped them into a small Ziploc bag to keep them all together.

(You can also laminate the pieces for extra durability if you want.)

The Activity

At first, the puzzle pieces were put out randomly and the children naturally picked them up and named the objects they saw. Once they realized they were puzzle pieces however, they began trying to put them together.

Between the clues presented by the pictures themselves and the shapes of each puzzle, they soon worked out that they needed to combine smaller words together to create the larger words.

For some of the children it was a real ‘aha’ moment when they suddenly understood how compound words worked. Of course, then they decided to ignore the puzzle shapes and try to make silly words from the pieces they had. “Earfly” was a bit of a favorite!

Free compound word puzzles!

Extending The Activity

While some of the kids enjoyed these puzzles just as they were, others wanted to write, so they jotted down the words as they went. They also continued the math flavor of the cards by writing them as equations: butter + fly = butterfly!

Get Your Free Printable

Ready to play?! Click the blue button below to download your 16 free compound word puzzles and then hop over and grab a set of free beginning sound board games too!

Save time, stay inspired and get EVERY student bigger results!


  1. Ellen

    Thank you! These are great ?

    • Liz Hah

      You’re welcome, Ellen! Enjoy!

  2. lynne motkoski

    Love these! These will be great for the littles I work with!

    • Liz

      Thanks, Lynne. I hope your kids find them really useful and fun!

  3. ellie kim

    tank you it´s funny and cute!!!

    • Liz

      Ellie, I’m very glad you’re enjoying these puzzles!

  4. Mrs. Voigt

    Thanks…..this class likes riddles….so this should be fun.

    • Ashley

      So fun!
      Hope your students enjoy!
      Ashley // Happiness Ambassador



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Hi, I’m Malia.

I LOVE helping Pre-K, Kindergarten and First Grade teachers save time, stay inspired and give EVERY student bigger results. I’m so glad you’re here!

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