Posted in Writing Ideas

Have Fun With Collective Nouns

The children will love this quick writing exercise all about collective nouns.

Our resident children’s poet and writer David Horner has tried this idea out in many schools and it is always a great success and can deliver some amazing results. It is also one of over 100 creative writing ideas in his latest book ‘Cracking Creative Writing’. One of many great books that can be found at Brilliant Publications.

One of the craziest oddities of the English language is the number of weird and wonderful collective nouns that we have that al mean ‘group’. Many of them date as far back as the 15th Century.

There are many that the children will be used to such as: a herd of elephants, a box of crayons, a bunch of grapes, a bed of flowers, etc.

The real diversity and strangeness comes when we think of groups of animals. Here are just a few to share with your class:

a murder of crows
a bob of seals
a caravan of camels
a crash of seals
a parliament of owls
a lodge of beavers
a mask of raccoons
a paddling of ducks
a scourge of mosquitos

Can they try and work out how these collective nouns came about?

Get them to do some research and see who can come up with the strangest collective nouns.

Ask the children to invent some collective nouns of their own. They can do this either individually or in pairs. Give them a list of six nouns and ask them to invent a collective noun to describe a group of them.


When David tried this with a group of children this is what Aaron and Moira came up with:

A slithering of snakes,
A tickle of spiders,
A hush of libraries,
A whiteness of clouds,
An eternity of homeworks.
Aaron & Moira

A final exercise to try is to get the children to collect six of their favourite collective nouns, either ones they have made up or ones they have discovered. Then use them to write a short nonsense’s story.

Maybe something like this:

A class of children walked into a forest of trees where they say a parliament of owls lecturing a somewhat restless rabble of butterflies. Suddenly a cartload of monkeys jumped out of a bed of flowers each one carrying a bouquet of flowers.

Have fun!

Mike and David from Goodeyedeers.


A writer of short stories.

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