- Arts & Humanities
A fun activity reinforces synonyms and builds vocabulary skills.
- follow directions.
- reinforce awareness and knowledge of synonyms.
- build vocabulary skills.
synonym, vocabulary, game, antonym, opposite, foreign language
- index cards
- synonym word lists (see below)
Before the Lesson
This fun activity requires advance preparation of a deck of cards. You'll need one card for each student and one for yourself. The prep is simple:
- Make a list of synonym word pairs that are appropriate for your grade level. Examples:
sad and unhappy
mistake and error
sleepy and drowsy
perhaps and maybe
A thesaurus is a great and easy source for finding grade-appropriate synonym pairs.
You'll find two lists below, one for use with students in grades 2 to 4 and the other for use in grades 5 and up.
- Use a blue marker to write on blank index cards or 3- x 5 paper the first word in one of the synonym pairs. (For example, write sad on the first card, mistake on the second card, sleepy on the third card) Keep the cards in order.
- Use a red marker to write on the back of the first card the second word in the second synonym pair on your list (error). Continue by writing, in sequence, the second words in each synonym pair. So, on the back of mistake is drowsy; on the back of sleepy is maybe. On the last card, write the second synonym in the first word pair on the list -- in the example above, it would be unhappy.
Now you're ready to play the game!
Mix up the cards and distribute them to students, one card per student -- don't forget one for yourself. Have students look at the blue word on the card they hold. Start the game by showing and calling out the red word on your card. The students must look at their cards to see who has the blue word that is a synonym for the word you call out. That student should call out the synonym.
For example, if you show and call out the word error, the student who is holding the blue word that is a synonym for error -- in this example, mistake -- must call out that word.
Then, the student holding the card on which was written the synonym for your card (mistake) flips over his or her card and reads the red word (drowsy) on the back. Students look at their cards to see if they hold the blue word that is a synonym for drowsy. The game continues until you have gone all the way through the deck of cards.
Variations on the Game
- Time students to see how long it takes them to complete the game. When the game is finished, collect the cards and redistribute them so students have a different card than the one they held in the first game. Play the game again. Try to beat the time it took to play the first round.
- Prepare several decks of cards and play the game with different sets of synonyms.
- Make the game more challenging by selecting difficult synonym pairs.
- Play the same game using antonyms (opposites).
- Play the game using words and their definitions.
- Play the game using foreign language synonyms; or foreign language verbs and their English meanings.
Sample Synonym Pairs Use a thesaurus to create a grade-appropriate list of synonyms.
You might use an online thesaurus. In addition, some versions of Microsoft Word have their own easy-to-use thesaurus. Simply click Tools in the menu bar, then choose Spelling and Grammar, and Language.
I used a thesaurus to create the synonym lists below. The first list might be appropriate to use at grades 2-4.
|center, middle||damp, wet||hurry, rush|
|gaze, stare||hear, listen||lost, missing|
|lump, chunk||odd, strange||stop, halt|
|paw, foot||paste, glue||present, gift|
|quick, fast||get, receive||funny, silly|
|sad, unhappy||small, little||smile, grin|
|stay, wait||stream, creek||tow, pull|
|pick, choose||lid, cover||neighborhood, community|
|big, large||harm, hurt||fire, blaze|
|fight, battle||hate, dislike||crash, smash|
This list might be appropriate to use at grades 5 and up.
|disappear, vanish||caution, care||petty, unimportant|
|copy, duplicate||danger, hazard||distribute, dispense|
|divide, separate||hesitant, indecisive||inappropriate, improper|
|poison, toxin||ponder, contemplate||prison, penitentiary|
|substitute, replacement||sudden, unexpected||tough, rugged|
|weaken, undermine||veer, swerve||natural, organic|
|inspect, examine||insult, offend||clench, squeeze|
|unprotected, vulnerable||courageous, valiant||categorize, classify|
|mission, assignment||liberty, freedom||restriction, limitation|
|traditional, customary||exaggerate, magnify||alternative, option|
Students will correctly identify the synonym word pairs.
Lesson Plan Source
Click to return to this week's lesson planning theme page, Teaching Grammar Without the Hammer: Five Fun Activities.
fast, swiftly, rapidly, speedily, at high speed, with all speed, at speed, at full speed, at the speed of light, at full tilt, as fast as one's legs can carry one, at a gallop, briskly, at the double, post-haste, with all possible haste, like a whirlwind, like an arrow from a bow, at breakneck speed, expeditiously, madly, hotfoot, with dispatch
informal double quick, in double quick time, p.d.q., p.d.q. pretty damn quick, nippily, like lightning, like greased lightning, hell for leather, at warp speed, like mad, like crazy, like blazes, like the wind, like a bomb, like nobody's business, like a scalded cat, like the deuce, a mile a minute, like a bat out of hell, like a bullet out of a gun
British informal like the clappers, at a rate of knots, like billy-o
North American informal lickety-split