Monday, February 6, 2017

The Art of Vocabulary - Word Scales

Here’s one idea to add a little fun and art to the exploration of words. Have your children pick a descriptive word (maybe from a passage they are studying). Now make a three panel comic strip (either vertical or horizontal) and draw a picture to represent your word in one of the three panels. 
Now look for synonyms and examine each of the synonyms to decide if they are more or less intense relative to the original word. The idea is to make a 3 panel word scale where the subtle meaning of the words gets either more or less strong as you go along. Accompany each level with a drawing to show the difference.
Let’s look at the example. I picked an easy word, COLD, to demonstrate.

I started by putting the word cold in the first panel of my word scale. Then I looked for other words that meant (or had to do with) cold, but were either more or less intense, so I could make a scale! For this first example, I wanted to explore the idea of ‘super cold,’ so I put my original word in the first box, and then looked for words that felt even colder than cold. Feel free to find as many words as you want for each level of intensity. Here’s what I came up with!

Many words can go either way (i.e. more or less intense in meaning). To show an example of this idea, I did another word scale with cold, only this time I put cold at the end and explored the idea of being less cold.


Even with a simple word like cold, I was able to come up with interesting new words such as frigid, gelid, and tepid! And because I organized the words based on their relative meanings to one another, I now understand the subtle nuances among these words. Three new vocabulary words came out of this activity, and I am much more likely to remember those words than if I had studied them on a vocabulary list!

Encourage your kids to have fun with this concept or to vary the number of panels or put their word in the middle and explore in both directions.