Wednesday, March 6, 2013

"Fishing" for Synonyms and Antonyms

By fourth grade most of my students have a decent understanding of synonyms and antonyms. They understand what they are and are able to give synonyms and antonyms for most everyday words. So that means it is my job to give them more challenging words to find synonyms and antonyms for so they continue to grow their vocabulary. To do this I pulled words from the read aloud that we just finished The Sign of the Beaver. If you haven't read it, it is a must read. My students both boys and girls love it! It leads to some wonderful discussions during Reading Workshop.

I created task cards using some of the key vocabulary words we learned during our book study and numbered the cards 1-21. Over the weekend I pulled out a few sets of the "Let's go fishin" game and numbered each of the fish with a number (hence the 21 question cards.) I broke my students into groups of 4 and had them go "fishing" When they caught a fish they had to answer the numbered task card correctly in order to keep the fish.
I'd love to say that everything went perfectly...but that wouldn't be entirely true. I didn't factor into account that some of my kids were "experts at fishing" and they began to get ALL of the fish, while others were working on their first "catch!" Thankfully, I was able to pause their playing and discuss what we could do to make the activity more fair for everyone. The kids and I brainstormed together and decided to have students fish until they caught one fish...they then waited until everyone in the group had a fish and then answered their question cards.
Once we established those ground rules the activity went well. My students really enjoyed the "fishing" aspect that decided which task card they had to answer.

While the activity helped reinforce synonyms and antonyms, it was a better lesson in learning how to work together and treat each other fairly. That is a lesson that is well worth the time it took to teach.

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