As testing season for many classroom teachers nears, try this shades of meaning activity to help review vocabulary. There are a variety of vocabulary building activities out there, but I find this one to be most effective. It helps students recognize the intensity of a word. Since it uses paint chips, there is a visual element to the activity too. Students sort word cards into weak to strongest versions of the words or the opposite versions of a specific word category.
For example, students may rank “heat words” (tepid, warm, boiling, scorching). This lesson can be adapted to fit a variety of grade levels. Not only is it a great activity to use for standardized test prep, it can also be incorporated while editing writing samples to avoid overusing words. It is a great way to help students understand shades of meaning.
Shades of Meaning Activity Options
- Print the word lists by downloading the activity plans HERE. Cut out each group of words and put them in small envelopes. Students rank or qualify the words from mild to extreme and write the ordered list on a paint chip (or other paper). Encourage students to discuss why one word has a stronger effect than another. Make them defend their order choice!
- After students review words in a group, have students name the group or create a category type or heading for the word group.
- Review types of analogies and have students create analogies using the words in their envelopes. They can create analogies with antonym pairs, synonym pairs, part to a whole, mild to extreme…
- Have students add additional related words to the word group.
Whether you use THIS ACTIVITY to enhance your writing workshop or give a boost to your vocabulary review, it is a great way to build-up your students’ word knowledge. For another paint chip idea, CLICK HERE for a fun winter simile activity.