Nonsense Words – Bay Area Discovery Museum

Nonsense Words

Generate sentences as quickly as possible in reaction to random streams of alphabet letters called word ticklers. This activity helps children practice flexible thinking skills.

Materials Required

  • Paper
  • Something to write with


1. Write down a list of word ticklers by putting together random streams of letters. Use the following word ticklers to get started:

  • Kcslkdfsfpoicvm
  • Jzifnovdmio
  • Pocdvujp
  • Mnzxcbudnf

2. Look at the first word tickler and generate a sentence as quickly as possible. What comes to mind when seeing those letters together in that way? The sentence doesn’t have to make complete sense. Don’t worry if this takes a little getting used to. Here are a few examples:

  • Osidfzhobu = “Outside is freezing, how about you?”
  • Jruhowieurskesoim = “Just how weird you ski sometimes.”
  • Urjoegijrop = “Urgent egg drop.”

3. Now, come up with multiple sentences for each word tickler.

Additional Tips

Try these add-on activities:

  • Once all the word ticklers have been used, create more or have someone else write some new ones. Even a cat walking across a keyboard could generate some good word ticklers!
  • Turn this into a group activity. All players start by using the same word tickler, but each person comes up with their own sentence. Once everyone has written down their sentence, everyone shares with the group.

Links to Creativity

This supremely silly game asks participants to respond to nonsensical words and activities. Nonsense can help evoke creativity by suspending the rules of normality—not unlike fairy tales—to test ideas of how reality works. Chandler and Shoun (1991) tested how participants spontaneously assign meaning to nonsense words and how those who scored higher on creativity (divergent thinking) tests were flexible enough to remember more nonsense words than their less creative peers.

Supporting research includes:

Chandler, T. A., & Shoup, J. (1991). Interaction of creativity and attribution in assignment of meaning on retention of nonsense syllables and words. Psychological Reports, 68(1), 275-278.

Lindqvist, G. (2003). Vygotsky's theory of creativity. Creativity Research Journal15(2-3), 245-251.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1971). The psychology of art. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. (Original work published 1930).


This activity was contributed by the Center for Childhood Creativity ©2015. It has been adapted with permission from Dr. Robert Epstein’s The Big Book of Creativity Games ©2000. For more information and resources see, or

Nonsense Words

Scroll to Top