How to Teach Synonyms And Why It's ImportantLearning that a synonym is a word that means the same thing or is similar to another word can help unlock a new level of descriptive writing for young students as they begin to experiment with word choice and explore shades of meaning. For example, when students know that synonyms for cold include freezing and chilled, writing a story about their winter break goes from featuring repetitive sentences about being "cold" to a story filled with varied descriptions! Learning synonyms is also an important feature of social and emotional learning as students learn various words to better express their feelings. Going beyond "sad and glad" to having more descriptive synonyms for their feelings has been shown to help students feel more in control of their emotions.
Ideas for Teaching SynonymsTeaching synonyms this school year? The teachers who create the resources on the Teach Starter team have put together some favorite (and preferred!) tips for adding this component of the ELA standards to your lesson planning.
- Create a classroom word bank on your whiteboard or bulletin board to collect synonyms for common words as a whole class. Allow students to add suggestions throughout the school year.
- Introduce students to the thesaurus to learn where and how to look for fresh synonyms when writing.
- Provide students with a list of "ghost" words and encourage them to use their new thesaurus skills to find replacements. This is a fun Halloween activity for your centers!
- Play word match synonym games.
- Provide students with copies of the local or school newspaper, and challenge them to circle as many synonyms as they can find for a list of common words you've listed on your whiteboard such as said, cold, and important.
- Divide students into small groups or pairs, and challenge your students to come up with a list of as many synonyms as they can think of for a word you have said. You can also use this activity to help students practice using antonyms!