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Writing: Making Vocabulary Choices 3

In this worksheet, students examine kennings (a description of something) and consider how they can use them in their own writing.

'Writing: Making Vocabulary Choices 3' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 2

Curriculum topic:   Writing: Composition

Curriculum subtopic:   Grammar and Vocabulary Awareness

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

A kenning is a way of describing something without using its name. It usually consists of two words that describe a feature of the noun (the person, animal or object) being described.

 

Tree swinger

 

Web maker

 

A kenning poem consists of several kennings describing the same noun. It is a bit like a riddle, as the reader has to work out what is being described. What do you think this kenning poem describes?

 

Mouse catcher

Milk drinker

Paw licker

Bird scarer

Wool chaser

Night howler.

 

Did you work out that it is a cat?

 


Kennings were used a lot in Old English and Norse poetry and there are many examples in the famous Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf.

Read the following kenning and decide what you think it is describing.

 

stick chaser

a cat

a horse

a dog

This time, three kennings have been put together to make a short kenning poem. What do you think it is describing?

 

Night flyer

Mouse eater

Loud hooter

a cat

an owl

a blackbird

These kennings have all been taken from Beowulf or other Anglo-Saxon poetry and translated into modern English. Can you match them with the objects they are describing?

Column A

Column B

sky candle
the sun
helmet bearer
a warrior
seal's bath
the sea

Here are three more kennings from Beowulf or other Anglo-Saxon poetry. What are they describing?

Column A

Column B

wave floater
a ship
skull splitter
an axe
bone house
the human body

Kennings often use different poetic devices to add to their effect. What poetic device has been used in this kenning poem about a goalkeeper?

 

Shot blocker

Ball catcher

Team saver

Game snatcher.

alliteration

personification

rhyme

The kenning gas guzzler is often used to describe a type of car that uses a lot of fuel. What poetic device has been used in this example?

alliteration

personification

rhyme

Some kennings are literal, which means they describe an actual feature of the noun, such as calling a dog a 'stick chaser'.

 

Other kennings use metaphor, which means they describe the noun as if it is something else. For example, describing a dog as a 'comfort blanket' would be a metaphor, as a dog is not really a blanket. However, the kenning suggests that a dog is good at giving comfort to people who are sad.

 

Do you think the following kenning for a bird is literal or metaphorical?

nest builder

literal

metaphorical

Do you think this kenning about a cockerel is literal or metaphorical?

 

alarm clock

literal

metaphorical

Not all kennings are just two words. Do you think this kenning about a camel is literal or metaphorical?

 

ship of the desert

literal

metaphorical

Kennings can be used in advertising and by protest groups to draw attention to their campaigns. What do you think this kenning describes?

 

a cancer stick

a stick of rock

a hockey stick

a cigarette

  • Question 1

Read the following kenning and decide what you think it is describing.

 

stick chaser

CORRECT ANSWER
a dog
  • Question 2

This time, three kennings have been put together to make a short kenning poem. What do you think it is describing?

 

Night flyer

Mouse eater

Loud hooter

CORRECT ANSWER
an owl
  • Question 3

These kennings have all been taken from Beowulf or other Anglo-Saxon poetry and translated into modern English. Can you match them with the objects they are describing?

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

sky candle
the sun
helmet bearer
a warrior
seal's bath
the sea
  • Question 4

Here are three more kennings from Beowulf or other Anglo-Saxon poetry. What are they describing?

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

wave floater
a ship
skull splitter
an axe
bone house
the human body
  • Question 5

Kennings often use different poetic devices to add to their effect. What poetic device has been used in this kenning poem about a goalkeeper?

 

Shot blocker

Ball catcher

Team saver

Game snatcher.

CORRECT ANSWER
rhyme
EDDIE SAYS
The words 'catcher' and 'snatcher' rhyme with each other.
  • Question 6

The kenning gas guzzler is often used to describe a type of car that uses a lot of fuel. What poetic device has been used in this example?

CORRECT ANSWER
alliteration
EDDIE SAYS
Both words begin with the same sound. This is alliteration.
  • Question 7

Some kennings are literal, which means they describe an actual feature of the noun, such as calling a dog a 'stick chaser'.

 

Other kennings use metaphor, which means they describe the noun as if it is something else. For example, describing a dog as a 'comfort blanket' would be a metaphor, as a dog is not really a blanket. However, the kenning suggests that a dog is good at giving comfort to people who are sad.

 

Do you think the following kenning for a bird is literal or metaphorical?

nest builder

CORRECT ANSWER
literal
EDDIE SAYS
Birds really do build nests so it is literal.
  • Question 8

Do you think this kenning about a cockerel is literal or metaphorical?

 

alarm clock

CORRECT ANSWER
metaphorical
EDDIE SAYS
Cockerels often wake people up in the mornings when they crow, but they are not really clocks, so it is metaphorical.
  • Question 9

Not all kennings are just two words. Do you think this kenning about a camel is literal or metaphorical?

 

ship of the desert

CORRECT ANSWER
metaphorical
EDDIE SAYS
Camels are often referred to as ships of the desert as they are used to carry goods across deserts just like ships carry goods across the sea. However, camels are not really ships, so it is a metaphor.
  • Question 10

Kennings can be used in advertising and by protest groups to draw attention to their campaigns. What do you think this kenning describes?

 

a cancer stick

CORRECT ANSWER
a cigarette
EDDIE SAYS
The kenning 'cancer stick' has been used by anti-smoking campaigners to describe cigarettes. It highlights the fact that smoking is known to cause cancer.
---- OR ----

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