Onomatopoeia is a word that names a sound, but also mimics a sound.
The word onomatopoeia comes from the combination of two Greek words,
onoma meaning "name" and
poiein meaning "to make,"
so onomatopoeia literally means "to make a name (or sound)."
It has been shown that onomatopoeia is high in number in infants’ early words compared to adult language. Infants’ learning of onomatopoeia is shown to be driven by a preference for sound structures that are easy to plan and produce.
In a study done by Menn and Vihman in 2011, 20% of 48 infants’ first five words (across 10 different languages) were onomatopoeic.
By 12-15 months, we expect a child to start imitating a few animals sounds.
A suggested Snapi Animal Onomatopoeia activity:
(Perfect for toddlers!)
1) Have the farm animal Snaps.
2) Place them in the Snapi Ball.
3) And roll! See if your child can name the associated sound that the Snapi Ball lands on.
Some English examples:
Sheep – Baa
Goat – Baa
Horse – Neigh
Pig - Oink
Chicken - Cluck
Cow - Moo
Dog - Woof
Donkey - Hee-haw
Duck – Quack
Rooster - Cock-a-doodle-doo
Peacock and Goose are tricky! Be creative or swap them out with:
Cat - Meow
Snake - Hiss
The other option is to lay all the Snaps out on a table. Snap them into the ball once your child can name the sound the animal makes until the ball is complete.
We still encourage children to learn and use the proper terms when naming animals. Even though it is cute, we can’t call a cat a “meow-meow” forever. :)
Catherine E. Laing (2019) Phonological Motivation for the Acquisition of Onomatopoeia: An Analysis of Early Words, Language Learning and Development, 15:2, 177-197, DOI: 10.1080/15475441.2019.1577138