Let’s talk about teaching how to solve word analogies to elementary and middle school students.
Be warned. Your students are going to love this.
Word analogies can be considered language development, vocabulary development, and some teachers like to teach them along with figurative language.
Like idioms, word analogies can be difficult for young students to decipher. I have a super simple system with a graphic organizer that will get your students not only understanding, but also loving word analogies. Read on to learn more!
Word Analogies Are Relationships
First of all, like so many other things in life, word analogies are based on relationships. Therefore, it’s essential to introduce your students to finding the relationship between two words. This is the starting point for learning how to solve an analogy.
That is to say, if I mention these two words:
Pencil : write
Ask students what the relationship is between the words. Hopefully, they’ll tell you that we use a pencil to write.
Next, introduce one word of the second part of the analogy. For example:
Students should use the previous relationship to solve the analogy. They can write it again substituting the word crayon for pencil.
We use a crayon to _______.
Using this relationship pattern, your students will understand how analogies work, and how to solve them. They’ll immediately see that the second part of the analogy is color.
That, my friend is the secret and simple trick to solving word analogies.
Teach How to Read an Analogy
The next step is to teach students how to read the analogy statements. Reading the first part out loud helps them to think about it.
So when they see the : (colon) they know to read “is to”.
Pencil : write becomes “pencil is to write”.
The :: (double colon) is read “as”.
Therefore, if you were to present this to the class,
Pencil : write :: crayon : color, your students would read it this way:
“Pencil is to write as crayon is to color.”
For the teacher, this concept seems simple. However, for a young student, it can take a bit of practice.
Graphic Organizer Word Analogy Solver
I designed a simple graphic organizer to help students look for the relationships and create a connection with the relationship in the second part of the analogy. You can grab your copy here. It’s a free download from my Member Vault. It includes twenty basic beginner analogies, too.
One way to use it is to put it into a plastic sleeve protector, or laminate it. Students can write the words and the relationship on it with a dry erase marker. Then they can write about the new relationship in the second part. That gives them a good visual aid to finding the second word in the analogy.
This system works so well that my students used to ask me for more analogies to solve. They loved the challenge.
I hope this lesson tip helps you introduce word analogies to your students.
Fun Ways to Practice Word Analogies
Here are some ideas for ways you can make it even more fun.
- Have students create analogies using their vocabulary words.
- Instead of writing spelling words three times, have them make analogies with some of the words. If you have words with synonyms or antonyms they can do quite a bit.
- Play an “I Have, Who Has” game with your students. Give them a word card. You say an analogy and have the student who can solve it hold up the word card. Have them explain their reasoning.
- Have table groups of no more than four students create an analogy. Then have them trade the first part of their analogy with another group. Each group tries to solve the other group’s analogy.
Using these activities will give you immediate feedback about how well your students understand the concept of word analogies.
Have fun, friend. Don’t forget to grab your free Analogy Solver and list of basic analogies.
If you want to dive right into it, I also have Word Analogy Boom Cards. These 52 cards are amazing because they teach and explain about analogies before the students begin solving them. Even better, Boom Cards are self checking, so it’s a simple way to save yourself some time grading.
If you prefer activities on paper or in Google Slides (™) I have you covered there, too. You can get the same 52 analogies in this Word Analogies Critical Thinking Activities packet.
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What other ideas do you have for teaching analogies? Please share them in the comments!