I always keep a stack of paint chips in my classroom because I can use them for many activity ideas. One of my favorite ideas is a paint chip vocabulary activity for “ranking words”. Students get a handful of related words that they must sort. They can sort weakest to strongest or strongest to weakest. Students begin to understand shades of meaning and get to practice working with synonyms and antonyms.
How do I Organize the Vocabulary Activity?
Print the list of word groups on cardstock and cut the words into strips. I use white coin envelopes and write the common theme or topic from the word group on the front of the envelope. Students work in pairs to rank the words in the coin envelopes from mildest to most extreme. Once they finish ranking, they copy their words onto the paint chips in order. I get the paint chips from my local Lowe’s, but you can visit any paint store or most hardware stores to get your own. When I tell people at Lowe’s that I am using the paint strips in a classroom, they are usually happy to donate to me.
Students write the most mild word on the light end of the paint chip and the most extreme word on the darkest portion of the paint chip. The paint chip allows for six words. Some of my word groups contain more than six words, so students are supposed to decide which words are less effective and eliminate the extras.
How Can I Use the Vocabulary in My Classroom?
After students complete the word list, you can add a hole punch to the top of the paint chip and clip them all together on a binder ring. Hang the stack of ranked words in the room to use as a classroom thesaurus. It is a great student resource during writing activities to help students avoid overusing common words. This is particularly helpful with said. Create a list of variations for said and rank them!
CLICK HERE to download the free activity plans and get some other suggestions for using this vocabulary activity with your students. To see another interactive game I use in language arts, CLICK HERE.
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