There are many reasons to use synonyms. You’ll see them when you read and write. But, what are they? Synonyms are words that have similar meanings, while antonyms are words that have opposite meanings. So, why do you have to use them if you already have a word that explains it? Sometimes we need to repeat what we’ve said and we don’t want to keep using the same word. It might be a story about a boy who is running. Instead of repeating that he’s running, he can also be sprinting, bolting, or whizzing by! A thesaurus is a great resource when it comes to synonyms, and a dictionary can also be helpful. If you prefer, there are also learning tools online that you can use.
When you read, notice all the synonyms you encounter. Sometimes a synonym is used to explain what a more difficult word means. Think about the following sentence:
The curious boy gazed at her with a quizzical look.
Even if you don’t know the meaning of the word quizzical, you understand what is going on because the synonym, curious, tells us about the boy.
Pair a vocabulary or spelling lesson with synonym activities to help students learn words and make connections between words in a meaningful way. Challenge your students to study a vocabulary topic like root words or frequently confused words, and then write a list of synonyms for all those words. Ask your students to learn a grade-level spelling list, like this 2nd grade spelling word list, and then think of as many synonyms as they can for every word on that list.
Learning synonyms can be fun and children often enjoy online games that help them practice this important skill. Practicing synonyms online can take away the anxiety of homework and simply make learning fun.