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Ideas for Targeting Synonyms & Antonyms in Literacy-Based Therapy

Semantic activities focus on learning new vocabulary and/or thinking about words and their relationships.

Semantic skills include:

  • Learning vocabulary in or related to the story

  • Synonyms & antonyms

  • Associations

  • Categories

  • Describing

  • Words with multiple meanings

  • Basic concepts (e.g. qualitative, spatial, temporal)

  • Comparatives & superlatives (e.g. big, bigger, biggest)

  • Prefixes & suffixes

💡 Here are nine fun ideas for targeting synonyms & antonyms! 💡

synonyms and antonyms: semantic activity ideas

1️⃣ Provide students with a list of synonym/antonyms that relate to the story. Have students sort the words into synonym or antonym piles.

Make this 🌟fun🌟 by incorporating gross motor movements or objects of high interest.

Ex: synonyms go in one corner of the room and antonyms go in the other. If using a farm theme, hop like a frog to get to the synonym pile and roll on the ground like a pig in mud to get to the antonym pile. Or if using a zoo theme, feed synonyms to a snake and antonyms to an alligator.

2️⃣ Replace a target word from the text with synonyms.

3️⃣ Create a graphic organizer with three columns. Put the target word from the story in the middle column, and synonyms/antonyms in the first/third columns. Have students generate synonyms/antonyms, look them up online/dictionary/thesaurus, give students a list of words for them to sort

4️⃣ Choose a word from the text. Work with students to generate a synonym/antonym.

Then have students go on a scavenger hunt around the room to find items that the synonym/antonym describes (e.g. soft and hard, wet and dry, long and short).

After they find their item, students can make a sentence about their item using the synonym/antonym. Talk about if their items are similar to the item from the story or the opposite.

5️⃣ Create a sensory bin with objects or pictures of objects - e.g. hard/soft you could gather hard and soft objects

6️⃣ Talk about character feelings - e.g. happy, excited, delighted, joyful, pleased

7️⃣ Matching - write synonyms and antonyms on sticky notes. Hide them around the room for students to find. They can work together to find the matching pair (e.g. I have cold. Who has hot?). Or you can give each student a synonym and then tell them to find their antonym on the scavenger hunt.

8️⃣ Give students a pair of words (e.g. cold & chilly, cold & hot). Talk about how they relate to the story (e.g. In the story, Sneezy was cold.). Have students decide if the pair of words are synonyms or antonyms.

9️⃣ Provide a synonym/antonym pair that relates to the story (e.g. from the text or that describes an item/character from the story or in the pictures) and sort physical items or pictures based on the synonym/antonym.

🌟 If you're looking for resources with a variety of activities already done for you, take a look at my printable book companions!

semantic activities examples

Or if you're into no prep, digital resources take a look at my Boom cards book companions!

I hope this has been helpful 💛

about the author Sarah. Sarah is a pediatric SLP and the creator behind Speechie Adventures.


Ukrainetz, T. A. (2006). Contextualized Language Intervention: Scaffolding Prek-12 Literacy Achievement (1st ed.). Pro Ed.


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