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Synonyms and Antonyms

By Mark Warner
Age Range: 7 to 11

Synonyms are words which have the same, or nearly the same meaning,
e.g. dirty and unclean, sad and unhappy.

Antonyms are words which mean the opposite of each other,
e.g. dark and light, strong and weak.

The following activity develops the children's understanding of the meanings of the above two terms, while increasing their range of vocabulary.

1) Begin by explaining the two terms, giving examples to illustrate the point.
2) Have a list of words which have lots of synonyms / antonyms. Some are listed here:

strong big happy short soft fast easy
fat nice new good quiet bright warm

3) Split the class into an even number of groups. Label half of the groups "Synonym" and half of the groups "Antonym".
4) Say one of the words on your word list. Each group then has to think of as many synonyms and antonyms for that word as possible (depending on the group's label given earlier). The children can have a fixed time limit to do this, or can continue until they run out of words.
5) Now count up the number of words each group has produced and award points to the group with the longest list.
6) Repeat using different words. You could also swap the groups, so the "Synonyms" groups now find antonyms and vice versa.
7) This would also be a useful exercise in using a thesaurus, so if there were enough for one per group, the children could use these to add to their own lists.

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