Synonyms & Antonyms Lesson Plan for Elementary School

Instructor: Mary Beth Burns

Mary Beth has taught 1st, 4th and 5th grade and has a specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently an assistant principal.

This lesson plan reviews the definition of synonym and antonym before students practice identifying places where they could be used in a text. An independent activity challenges students to create their own original piece of writing or revise a text.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • Generate appropriate synonyms or antonyms for words in a text
  • Create an original piece of writing using synonyms and antonyms
  • Revise a text using appropriate synonyms and antonyms


This lesson will take approximately 45-60 minutes.

Curriculum Standards

This lesson is aligned to the following Common Core standard:


Demonstrate understanding of words by relating them to their opposites (antonyms) and to words with similar but not identical meanings (synonyms).


Students will need to understand the meaning of following words in order to be able to do this activity:

  • Synonym
  • Antonym
  • Similar
  • Opposite


You will need these materials to teach this lesson:

  • Index cards
  • Chart Paper
  • Markers (black, green and red)
  • Read aloud book

Lesson Instructions

In preparation for this lesson, you will need to do the following:

  • Select a book for a read-aloud. The book's Lexile level should be slightly higher than the Lexile level of your class.
  • Create 20 index cards for the lesson. You will write the following words on the card (one word per card)
  1. enormous
  2. gigantic
  3. miniature
  4. small
  5. frigid
  6. freezing
  7. boiling
  8. hot
  9. joy
  10. happiness
  11. depression
  12. sadness
  13. expensive
  14. pricey
  15. inexpensive
  16. cheap
  17. close
  18. near
  19. far
  20. distant
  • Using the black, green and red markers, create a table with three columns on chart paper. Write 'Word' at the top of the first column in black. Write 'Synonym' at the top of the second column in green. Write 'Antonym' at the top of the third column in red.

To begin the lesson, give an index card to each student. If you have more than 20 students in your class, you will need to make additional cards with pairs of synonyms and antonyms. If you have less than 20 students, you can keep the left over cards.

Remind the students that they have already learned a little bit about synonyms and antonyms. This is their time to show you what they remember about synonyms and antonyms. Have them read the word on their card to themselves and tell them to think about words they know that have similar meanings.

Set the timer for 60 seconds. Tell the students that they need to find their card's buddy before the timer goes off. Their card's buddy is a synonym because they have similar definitions.

When the timer goes off, call on a few pairs and ask them how they knew that their cards were buddies. The students should explain that they knew their words had similar meanings. Address any misconceptions if they arise. If students do not have a buddy, ask the class what card would need to be in play in order for that student's card to have a buddy.

Repeat this process for antonyms. However, instead of saying buddy, say enemy. This is because antonyms have opposite meanings.

Collect the cards from the students and gather them on the floor. Explain to them that you are going to read a book aloud to them. It is their job to be active listeners of the story. As an active listener, they need to listen to the words in the story and think about possible antonyms or synonyms. If they come up with a synonym or antonym for a word in the story, they need to hold a thumbs up to their chest. Read the book slowly and clearly in order to allow think time.

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