Does anyone have a fun activity to teach TONE? I used to have one where four different students were given the same sentence and were told to say the sentence using different tones.  Does this...

Does anyone have a fun activity to teach TONE? 

I used to have one where four different students were given the same sentence and were told to say the sentence using different tones.  Does this ring a bell with anyone?  Thanks!

Expert Answers
scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I often use the lyrics to songs that my students listen to to teach tone.  It's quite interesting them to read the lyrics rather than simply listen to them.  Without the music in the background, they really have to look at how the artist uses word choice to suggest his attitude.

In regards to the activity that you mentioned, I've done one similar to that, where I place several sentences on the board (one at a time) and then distribute notecards with tonal words on them such as "sarcastic," "disheartened," "furious," etc.  My students take turns reading the sentence on the board in the tone on their cards, and the other students have to guess what word (or a synonym) the reader has on his card.  We also discuss (similar to the first post) which word(s) would be best to emphasize in the sentence in order to portray a certain tone.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator


I teach tone by reminding my students about the tones of voice they use. For instance, I tell them that sometimes saying something innocent in a snotty or rude tone will get them in trouble, and the adult will tell them to WATCH their TONE, because what they really mean is attitude, and tone is synonymous with attitude!  It's an easy way to remember that tone means the speaker or author's attitude toward the subject, and it creates an emotional reaction.

hadley818 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Even high school students struggle with tone. I have used song lyrics and even art.

I do an activity where students pretend they are certain characers from a novel and they have to act out common scenarios. For example, "How would Atticus Finch solve this argument?" or "How would Hester Prynne respond to a person in need?" This activity doesn't always help students understand an author's tone, but it can help students understand a character's "tone."

ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One thing you might consider is selecting move clips that have clearly defined tones being used. Have students identify for each clip whether they consider the tone to be positive, negative, or neutral. Then have them select specific words that describe the tone of the speaker(s). This could then be extended into a lesson about word choice instead of saying the speaker(s) tone is angry, say furious, outraged, appalled, or etc.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have students write an apology for some random (but not too serious) offense they've committed, then I have them read to different audiences: mom, dad, teacher, preacher, classmate, grandmother...and the list could continue indefinitely.  The words don't change but the tone sure does.

thewanderlust878 | Student

Tone is a difficult lit element to teach. I know that I definitely struggled learning it in school. I also remember the game you mentioned where students were given different sentences to say in a different tone. Unfortunately it is difficult to think of another way to teach it because I think that tone is subjective and changes from person to person. 

epollock | Student

I used to have my class say the following statement emphasizing each word separately to see possible interpretations of the same sentence.

I am getting married tomorrow.

I AM getting married tomorrow.

I am GETTING married tomorrow.

I am getting MARRIED tomorrow.

I am getting married TOMORROW.