Name That -nym

Subject Area

English Language Arts




In this activity, the students will be introduced to antonyms, synonyms, and homonyms using examples on index cards. Teaching students to read and write often involves teaching them about how language works in general. This lesson focuses on strategies you can use for teaching synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms. Giving students an understanding of the aforementioned phenomena leads to better comprehension, better spelling, and more expressive writing. 

This activity results from the ALEX Resource Development Summit.

    English Language Arts (2021) Grade(s): 3


    Describe word relationships and nuances in word meanings, including relating them to their opposites and distinguishing shades of meaning in similar or related words, including nouns, verbs, and adjectives.

    Unpacked Content



    • Describe
    • Word relationships
    • Nuances
    • Opposites
    • Distinguishing
    • Shades of meaning
    • Similar words
    • Related words
    • Nouns
    • Verbs
    • Adjectives


    Students know:
    • Word relationships and nuances in word meanings.
    • Words with opposite meanings are antonyms, and words with similar meanings are synonyms.
    • A noun is a person, place, thing, or idea.
    • A verb expresses an action or state of being.
    • An adjective describes a noun or pronoun.


    Students are able to:
    • Describe the relationships between words and nuances in word meanings.
    • Describe how the meaning of words are alike or different.
    • Describe the nuances of words that have different shades of meaning.


    Students understand that:
    • Writers and speakers should carefully select words to convey specific meanings, ideas, and relationships.
    • Words have relationships with other words and words have subtle differences that can be distinguished within text.


    Learning Objectives

    Learning Objectives

    The students will be able to:

    • demonstrate an understanding of words by relating them to opposites (antonyms) and to words with similar but not identical meanings (synonyms).
    • determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words.
    • consult reference materials (thesaurus) to find the pronunciation and determine or clarify the precise meaning of keywords.

    Activity Details

    1. The teacher will introduce the words antonyms, synonyms, and homonyms to the students. The teacher will provide a definition for each word.  Antonyms: words that have an opposite meaning, Synonyms: words that have a similar meaning, Homonyms: words that sound alike but may have a different spelling and meaning.
    2. The teacher will provide the students with examples for each word. The teacher should write the examples and the type of example on index cards.  Synonyms-words that mean the same or nearly the same  (above & over), antonyms opposite meaning (asleep & awake), homonym- words that sound alike but have a different meaning and spelling (flour & flower). As the teacher shows the word sets (antonyms, synonyms, homonyms) the teacher will reinforce the meaning of each word by using the examples for each word. The teacher will use the examples in sentences......For example, I went above and over my goal for reading non-fiction books this year. (Synonyms) I could hardly stay asleep as my dad's snoring kept me awake. (Antonyms) Please pick the flowers from the garden and place them inside of the coconut flour vase. (Homonyms)
    3. The teacher will introduce the students to a thesaurus. The teacher will teach the students how to use a thesaurus, as well as the thesaurus function on their classroom computer or use hard copies, to locate meaningful synonyms.
    4. The teacher will make a three-way chart (graphic organizer) and label each section antonyms, synonym, and homonym. The teacher will show the students cards that have synonyms (big/large, beautiful/pretty, funny/comical, introverted/shy) antonyms (boy/girl, entrance/exit, interior/exterior), and homonyms (peace/piece, right/write, board/bored, peace/piece) written on them. The teacher will ask the students to select which column the words set fits underneath. As the students share their finding, as a group, chart the answers (or tape the index cards) on the chart paper as a visual and as a way of checking for understanding.
    5. As a culminating activity, the class will play the game Word Frog Arcademics (click on the link). The game can be played in the whole group or in a small group or can be used as a center activity.
    Assessment Strategies

    Assessment Strategies

    The teacher will check for understanding as the students share their findings underneath the correct column heading on the class three-way chart.

    The teacher will also check for understanding while students play the Word Frog Arcademics game.

    Variation Tips

    1. The students can be provided with a teacher made a copy of a cross-word search puzzle which may contain a mixture of synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms.
    2. The students can use words from the anchor chart to write a story about the "NYM family". 
    3. The teacher can create worksheets designed to have students match synonyms, antonyms, or homonyms with each other.
    4. The students can create illustrated synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms dictionaries, drawing pictures to go along with pairs they find interesting.
    5. The students can pantomime the meaning of words.



    Background and Preparation

    Background / Preparation

    The teacher should familiarize themselves with the proper use of synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms.