Thesaurus Power

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Language Arts, Reading, Vocabulary

Grade 3- 5


Given a thesaurus entry, the students will list and apply its synonyms to sentence writing.
Students will use a thesaurus to locate an entry's part of speech, definition, list of synonyms, and list of antonyms.


The intermediate level is the age at which the thesaurus must be introduced and utilized. During the elementary years, dictionary skills are practiced and then applied. Next, glossaries appear in the backs of reading, mathematics, science, and social studies textbooks, and students work with these references. By fourth grade, pupils understand the concept of synonyms and antonyms. A thesaurus becomes an important tool to help these youngsters increase and refine their writing and speaking vocabularies. This lesson is designed to offer practice using a thesaurus. Students will learn to add variety to their written compositions and eliminate repetitive language while revising.
Students will use a thesaurus when revising and rewriting compositions.
I. Lesson Introduction
A.Prepare a list of synonyms for the word "money" (e.g., dough, jack, simoleons, long green, bucks, cabbage, shekels, yellow boys, hard cash, bank, chicken feed). Explain that our English language has a larger, richer vocabulary than most other languages. A strategy to use in order to take advantage of our colorful language is to practice thesaurus skills. A thesaurus is a book of synonyms and antonyms. Writers look up common and overused words in a thesaurus in order to find synonyms. These synonyms help make compositions more interesting and less repetitive.
B.Inform the students that they are at an age where word choice is more crucial than it was during their elementary years. Overused words must be identified and modified while revising and proofreading a paragraph. Present the following list of words and have the pupils brainstorm a list of synonyms for each:

1. good 2. nice 3. big 4. run 5. eat

Next allow time for the students to share their brainstormed lists. Finally, let the students skim through a thesaurus to discover how this book is organized. Instruct them to locate these entries and add more synonyms to their lists.
II. Lesson Body
A.Introduce the lesson worksheet. Point out that entries in most thesauruses are similar to those found in a dictionary. Each word's part of speech, definition, and a sample sentence are present. Unlike a dictionary or glossary, a thesaurus contains synonyms and antonyms for each entry. Exercise A will help students familiarize and practice basic thesaurus research skills.
B.Exercise B has students applying the entry's synonyms in context. Pupils must study each sentence carefully and choose the best synonym from the given list. By selecting the correct word, the sentence will be more exact and more descriptive.
C.Exercise C asks students to look up a given word in an actual thesaurus and then use its synonyms to improve a list of sentences. The goal is to get students to replace overused words with more interesting, higher-level synonyms.
III. Lesson Conclusion
A.Students are to state the purpose of a thesaurus and how it supplements a dictionary or glossary. They are to list the basic elements of a quality thesaurus (entry words, part of speech, definition, sample sentences, lists of synonyms, lists of antonyms) and tell where to find this book on the reference shelf (in the same area as the dictionaries).
B.Writing Applications: Students are to locate in a thesaurus a common word that has at least five listed synonyms. Next, they are to copy the entry, its part of speech, and synonym list. Finally, the pupils are to create sample sentences for five of the synonyms.
C.Publishing Project:
  1. The teacher will collect the portfolio work and assemble it into a class thesaurus of commonly overused terms. The class will refer to this booklet during the revision step of future writing assignments.
  2. Computer Connection: Demonstrate the thesaurus option on the task bar of a word-processing program. Encourage the writers to explore this function when creating future compositions and reports.
IV. Evaluation
A.Use the discussion questions, practice exercises, and lesson worksheets to measure student progress and skill mastery.
B.Writing Applications: Use the four-point rubric scale to determine if students can independently, can usually, or require assistance to use the thesaurus to improve their vocabulary.


  • thesaurus
  • Thesaurus Power worksheet (pages 104 and 105)

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