Teaching synonyms to second graders can be fun for the students and the teacher. Students can work with a partner or in a small group to rewrite stories or create web graphic organizers based on synonyms. Students can play games or complete word puzzles for vocabulary reinforcement. The reward for completing such synonym activities is increased reading comprehension.
Rewrite a Story
Write a simple story on the board with the adjectives in parentheses. After each adjective, place a blank space. Give out paper and have the students copy the story. Instruct them to place a synonym for the word in parentheses in the blank space. To facilitate the lesson, put a list of adjectives to choose from on the board as well. Have students share their stories with the class; as they read their stories, make a list of the adjectives they used grouping synonyms together. For example, the first sentence of the story might be, “There once was a (little) _____ girl who lived near a lake." Students might write "small," "tiny" or "minute" for the word little. Write “little” on the board, and put the synonyms “small” and “tiny” under it as students read their stories with those words.
Synonym Go Fish
Write a list of synonym pairs on the board, and have students copy each word on an index card. Word pairs might be “big, large,” “close, near,” and “quick, fast.” Continue until you have at least 15 pair (30 cards). Ask the students to work with a partner; instruct the students to place the index cards in a deck. Have one partner deal out five cards to himself and five cards to his partner. Students play the game like Go Fish, by matching synonyms in their hand and putting aside the synonym pairs. If a student has no more pairs, he picks a card. The partner with the most pairs at the end of the game wins.
Graphic organizers are a good way for students to visualize curriculum material. For second graders, a “star” synonym web graphic organizer is a simple way to teach synonyms. Instruct the students to make a star graphic organizer by putting a circle in the center of a letter-sized sheet of paper. The vocabulary word is then written in the circle. Have students draw lines radiating from the circle with another, smaller circle at the end of each line. Synonyms for the center word are placed in the circles surrounding the center vocabulary word. For example, if the center word is “little,” surrounding words might be “tiny,” “small” and “miniature.” Students may know "tiny" and "small," but you might have to suggest "miniature" for second graders.
Synonym Crossword Puzzle
Prepare a synonym crossword puzzle and allow students to work with a small group. List the clues for Across and Down as “synonym of_____.” For example, the synonym of “start” would be “begin,” and the synonym of “throw” would be “toss.” Include a word bank of words that are in the crossword. This activity can be set up as a contest, with the group that finds the correct solution first the winner.
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