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Human Thesaurus

Human Thesaurus Activity

See more activities in: Third Grade, Vocabulary

Is your precocious third grader a Shakespeare in the making? Does she spout prose at the drop of a hat? Challenge her growing vocabulary with a group game that rewards her wordy ways. Just gather up some siblings or neighborhood pals and settle down for an afternoon of creative, out-of-the-box thinking.

What You Need:

  • Paper
  • Pens
  • Hole puncher
  • String
  • Scissors
  • Timer
  • Mystery items (hats, flowers, food – anything will work!)
  • Three or more friends
  • Thesaurus

What You Do:

  1. You’re the game master. Gather up the players in a circle.
  2. Hand out a sheet of paper and a pen to each player.
  3. Pick one of your mystery items and place it in the middle of the circle.
  4. Tell the children that they will have one minute to write as many adjectives and synonyms for the mystery item as they can.
  5. Be sure to give the players a brief review of what adjectives and synonyms are.
  6. Adjectives are words that describe a noun. Some common adjectives are words that describe color like teal, pink, and green; words that describe how something feels like scratchy, silky, and bumpy; or words that describe how something looks like beautiful, silly, or unusual.
  7. Synonyms are words that refer to almost the exact same thing as another word. Popular synonyms for a book, for example, are a tome, a text and a volume.
  8. Set the timer for one minute.
  9. While you wait, make sure no child is sneaking a peak at anyone else’s list. Also, feel free to write down your own list of words on a separate piece of paper. No reason you can’t play along as well!
  10. When the timer dings, explain the way the game will be scored. Players will get one point for each adjective they wrote down that another player also wrote. If three players all wrote down the adjective “stinky”, than all three children should receive one point each.
  11. Have one person at a time read their list out loud while the other players mark the words they have in common.
  12. Determine who the winner is by comparing the scores. Make sure you check each player’s final tally.
  13. Let that round’s winner choose the next mystery item.
  14. After a few rounds, use a hole punch to help each player make a hole at the top of each of list.
  15. Give each child a string.
  16. Let the children string their lists together. Now they have a nifty collection of adjectives and synonyms they made up themselves!
  17. Does your group of wordy winners know that there is a book that actually lists synonyms for many common words? End the activity by exploring an actual thesaurus. How close did the players come to becoming human thesauruses?  
Updated on Sep 20, 2012
Printable Workbooks from Education.com
Find a printable workbook to go along with this fun activity. See Workbooks
See more activities in: Third Grade, Vocabulary
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