Having Fun with Analogies

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An analogy is a way of thinking about how pairs of words are related.   It’s a special kind of word puzzle that lets a student have fun and exercises their brain at the same time!  If you need a language arts activity to help keep your students on their toes, teach them how to create analogy puzzles!  They can be done at any time, and kids seem to always enjoy the challenge.     

Usually, an analogy exercise will be a set of three words and a blank line, which the student must fill in with the correct word.  The : symbol in the analogy means “is to,” and the :: symbol stands for “as.”  When the analogy is read out loud, students should be taught to read these symbols as if they were words.  For instance, the following analogy should be read like this:

boat: goat:: fan: man

“Boat is to goat as fan is to man.”

Analogies are a form of logic or step-by-step thinking to solve problems.  The most important thing you have to do is to make sure students understand the “thinking process” involved in the analogy.  You can teach them to solve the puzzle just by following these steps:

Step 1:  Decide how the first two words in the analogy are related.

Step 2:  Think how the other pair of words relate in the same way.

Step 3:  Choose a word that makes both pairs relate that way.

Let’s try it!  Look at the first set of words in the example again.  How are boat and goat related?  They rhyme!  Now, look at the word fan.  Can you think of a word that rhymes with fan?  We could use the word manMan rhymes with fan, so man would be a good choice to fill in the blank.  That’s how we solve the puzzle and come up with the analogy:  “Boat is to goat as fan is to man.”

Shurley English teaches a list of analogies called “The Big 10.”  The list shows different ways words can be related, and it’s very helpful as students learn to discover word relationships, using analogies.  Post this list in your classroom for quick reference: 

Big 10 analogies.png

Rain : train :: cup :  pup

This is the proper reading of this rhyming analogy: 

Rain is to train as cup is to pup.

stripe : zebra :: spot : leopard

This is the proper reading of characteristic analogy: 

Stripe is to zebra as spot is to leopard.

Read analogies often with your students, and go through the “thinking process” with them.  Then, have students complete brain puzzles.  Try implementing analogy activities like the one below as often as you can to help your students exercise their brains and have fun at the same time!

BONUS ACTIVITY: Analogy Puzzles

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What is a contronym?

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Have you ever noticed that several language arts terms have the letters o-n-y-m in them?  I’m talking about words like synonym, antonym, homonym, heteronym, acronym, etc.  Of course, the list goes on, but here’s what you need to know about all of these words:

Onym is actually a Greek root word that means “name.”  So, in context, when you see a word with this root, you can conclude that it names something; you just have to figure out what!      

Most 1st -8th grade curriculums purposefully teach students about synonyms and antonyms as a way to (a.) increase their vocabulary, (b.) improve their reading comprehension, and (c.) learn effective strategies to improve and expand their writing.  These two categories are not only imperative to learn about concepts in other subject areas; they are also tested on the SAT and GRE.

A synonym is the name of the category of words that mean the same or almost the same thing.  An example might include words like “intelligent” and “smart.”  An Antonym, on the other hand, is the name of the category of words that have opposite meanings like “hot” and “cold. “ 

The purpose of this blog is not to define every onym word for you, so allow me to fast forward to my big ah-ha moment…

As I continued to review the list of language arts related onym words, I stumbled on one that intrigued me: contronyms.   As a teacher, I had never taught this term much less required my students to learn about them or identify them in a sentence. That’s why I’m sharing them now! 

A contronym is the name of a category of words that are spelled the same and pronounced the same yet are opposite in meaning. They are described as words that are their own antonyms.  To further explain, let’s use the contronym bill as an example.

Contronym: bill

Description: You can have a $50 bill in your pocket, or you can receive a $50 bill for some sort of service you obtained.

Explanation: In the first example, “bill” means a piece of paper money; a $50 credit. In the second example, “bill” refers to an invoice you receive that tells you how much money you owe. In other words, it means that you have a $50 debt. Bill and bill are contronyms.

Rational: Even though the word “bill” looks the same and sounds the same in both sentences, it means the exact opposite in each. Bill describes money you can spend in the first example, while bill describes a debt that you owe in the second one.

You can give your students the knowledge, skills, and practice they need to know and use contronyms, starting with the list of contronyms below:

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Spring Bulletin Board: See How We've Grown!

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It’s not always easy to see how much we’ve grown in one year, especially for a child.  Physical growth might be the most noticeable because we can feel it in several ways.  For instance, we can tell when our clothes are too big or too small; they don’t fit right.  We know when our feet have grown because our shoes are too tight, and our feet hurt.  Also, we can tell when our hair has grown when it starts covering our eyes and ears. 

Intellectual growth, on the other hand, is much more difficult to notice.  Other people, like a parent or teacher, seem to notice this type of growth before the individual realizes it!  Everyone enjoys being told how much they’ve grown intellectually, so here’s a way for you to do that in your classroom.

Image Source:  Volunteer Spot

Image Source: Volunteer Spot

Throughout the year, Shurley English students have spent a lot of time building their vocabulary skills to improve their word choice strategies.  They have created their own synonym/antonym booklet, a vocabulary notebook or notecards, and also learned how to use “Power Words” in their writing.  Now, they can use all of these learning tools to help create a spring bulletin board. This bulletin board idea gives your students an opportunity to reflect on the words they’ve learned  and written in their notebooks and to realize how their vocabulary word bank has grown. 

Below are the steps to follow in order to build a “See How We’ve Grown” garden in your classroom:

Step 1: Create a Synonym List:

Materials Needed:

  • Synonym/Antonym Booklet

  • Vocabulary Notebook/Vocabulary Notecards

  • Power Words (found in Shurley English Student Textbook)

  • Shurley English Student Textbook

  • Thesaurus

  • Paper

  • Pencil

To Do:

  1. As a class, create a list of basic words your students overused at the beginning of the year.  (e.g., good, bad, friend, happy, sad, etc.) 

  2. Allow students to work in pairs and assign basic words to each group. 

  3. Have each pair create a list of three to five synonyms for their assigned word(s). 

  4. Encourage students to use their Shurley English resources and a thesaurus to complete the activity.

  5. Monitor students’ work by walking around the room to assist each group.

 

Step 2: Create Vocabulary Flower:

Materials Needed:

  • Circles (pre-cut)

  • Long strips of colored paper (pre-cut)

  • Glue

  • Stapler

  • Black markers

  • Pipe cleaners

  • Green leaves (pre-cut or *create a pattern)

  • *Green construction paper

  • *Scissors

To Do:

  1. Write the basic word in the center of the circle with a black marker.

  2. Write the synonym for that word on half of the long strip of paper.

  3. Loop the long strip of paper so the half with writing on it is on top. (See example below.)

  4. Glue the two ends of the loop together.

  5. Repeat for each synonym.

  6. Once all leaf-loops are constructed for that basic word, glue or staple the leaves under the circle to complete the flower.

  7. Students continue to create flowers to fill your bulletin board. (You might even want to add a clothesline with a few writing pieces on them.)

Source:  IMGLabs

Source: IMGLabs

 Finally, use your own creative flare to build a beautiful spring garden that showcases your students’ growth!  Don’t forget to discuss and celebrate their growth as a class.  When our efforts and growth are recognized, the acknowledgement gives us the extra motivation to keep going.  This is a wonderful way to keep your students engaged and excited about finishing the school year.