Strong Nouns

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Students need Language notebooks, and a pencil. They also need a copy of the following:

First page of Reynard the Fox. Peter deVries. Copy and paste the following into a separate document and copy for your students. Highlighters.

     Long ago in a faraway kingdom, young Prince Harold and his beautiful bride, Caroline, were crowned king and queen. Kinights and ladies, bishops and merchants, nobles and common folks—subjects from all corners of the realm—came to Court for the coronation. Everyone happily joined in the celebration—everyone, that is, but the new king.
     “Why are you so sad? asked Queen Caroline.
     Young Harold sighed. “I am not ready to be king,” he answered. “I have not earned the wisdom to rule. There are many in this kingdom who do not listen to me, who even covet my throne. My new subjects are greedy and constantly fight among theselves. And I am distressed that I don’t know how to deal with them, how to rule them wisely. What am I to do?”
      Queen Caroline understood her husband’s misgivings and thought for some time before she said, “I have heard stories of someone who may be able to help us.”
      “Give me his name,” said King Harold.
      “I do not know his name,” answered the queen. “But I have been told there is a wise hermit who lives among wild animals ina cave deep in the forest. Many seek him out for advice on matters simple and grave. No one knows where he comes from, how long he had been in the forest, or how he gained his wisdom. But it is known for certain that he has helped many of our subjects.”
      “My queen, you are very clever!” said the king. “Summon this mysterious hermit to our court.”


Students should have done some work with Reynard the Fox, but the presentation itself only requires that students know the basic parts of speech. Especially, can they recognize and noun and distinguish nouns from other parts of speech.


1. Review nouns. Show the symbol. Remind children of the story of the pyramids. Review definition of nouns. Have children give examples. Make sure that all students can show a basic understanding.
2. Introduce the concept of strong nouns and weak nouns. Strong nouns give energy and vitality to the writing. Weak nouns do the basic job of a noun, but they don’t add interest to the writing.
3. Hand out the first page of Reynard. (See materials). Ask students to be aware of how the writer uses nouns. Read aloud.
4. Discuss. Which nouns did you notice? What’s an example of a strong noun? A weak noun?
5. Have students work in pairs to highlight all the nouns on the page.
6. Make a list on the board of strong nouns and weak nouns. Have students copy this list in their notebooks.

Suggestions for Student Work.

Xerox the first page of another book. This could be a book the students suggest. Have students go through the same process of highlighting all nouns, and sorting the nouns into strong and weak nouns.

Control Of Error

Recopying the list in student notebooks is control of error. They will have worked with partner to sort weak from strong nouns, but the class particpation will give them an instinct for the difference.

Points Of Interest

The passage from deVries's Reynard is an excellent example of the use of strong nouns.


Direct Aim: Introduce the concept of strong and weak nouns

Indirect Aim: Prepare students for Common and Proper Nouns.


—Once students understand the difference between strong and weak nouns, provide them with  list of strong nouns. Have them write a paragraph using five strong nouns.

—Have students take the first page of a novel they are reading and list all nouns as strong or weak. Write a sentence evaluating how well this writer uses nouns compared to the writer of Reynard.