In second and third grades, kids will start to make friends with the thesaurus. Okay, so this reference book is not the same as having a buddy to ride bikes and mess around with, but it does happen to be a powerful lifetime vocabulary tool. This is not to say, of course, that eight-year-olds are supposed to master college level words by the end of the year. It does mean, however, that when they’re about to write the word “great” for the third time in a row, they know where to turn for some “excellent,” “wonderful,” “outstanding,” “nifty” alternatives!
What You Do:
- Carefully remove the paper outer wrappers from about 15 chocolate bars. Using the wrappers as a measuring guide, cut new wrappers from your pastel paper.
- Challenge your child to think of at least five cool adjectives to describe Mom—beautiful, perhaps, or smart, or kind—and then look them up together in the thesaurus. See if you can find two more words to extend each one!
- Now have your child write one word on the front of each wrapper. Encourage your child to use his best kid writing—this is a gift! For an added fun touch, you add extra decoration with small flower or star stickers.
- Wrap the paper around a candy bar to replace the old paper wrapping. Glue the edges together on the bottom using the glue stick. Place your “dressed up” chocolates in a pretty basket, or put them in a cello bag with bright red and pink ribbons, and be ready for lots of smiles.
Special Note for Older Kids:
This activity is still lots of fun for older kids, and thesaurus adventures are useful for writers of any age. But if you’ve got a kid in fourth grade or above, many state standards also call for work on literary devices such as metaphor or simile. Try challenging your older child to take this activity a step further: on the underside of each adjective, create a metaphor or simile that embellishes it. As a quick refresher, similes are comparisons using “like” or “as,”: you might say, for example, that Mom as “lovely as a lavender freesia.” Metaphors are stated as “is,”: “Mom, you are the heart of our family.” Ask your kid for more ideas, and be prepared to be impressed!
Julie Williams, M.A. Education, taught middle and high school History and English for seventeen years. Since then, she has volunteered in elementary classrooms while raising her two sons and earning a master's in school administration. She has also been a leader in her local PTA.