Monday, April 8, 2013

Could that BEE a Synonym or Antonym?

This game is a prelude to what will (hopefully) become some better writing on my boy's part. His stories are simple sentences with unimaginative adjectives, nouns, and verbs.

I wanted to open his mind to a wider, broader vocabulary. I thought a little synonyms and antonyms game might help.

I made two pages of hexagon magnets, each shape containing three words. Their antonyms and synonyms were featured on adjacent hexagons.

I printed the pages on magnet paper, tediously cut them out, and then hit the library for some great books.

Are you rolling your eyes? I know. I know. You're probably tired of hearing me gush all over Brian P. Cleary's books. I can't help it if they're the most fun language arts explanations I've found; my son loves them as much as I do. 

For this lesson, we read Stop and Go, Yes and No: What is an Antonym? and Stroll and Walk, Babble and Talk: More about Synonyms. Wildly creative illustrations, a rhythmic tempo, great explanation of the parts of speech, and examples galore! If you've never opened one of the Words are CATegorical books, run to your local library and check one out now.

Download our synonym/antonym hexagons free. Print on magnet paper (it costs about $6 for a 3-pack of sheets at the craft store; feed it through your printer one page at a time). Cut out.

Access a 2-page PDF of synonym/antonym hexagons here.

I put all the magnets word-side-down in a small flat tub. One was drawn and placed on our refrigerator (any large metal surface will work). Then each of us picked five hexagons as our "hand." (It doesn't matter if the opponent sees your magnets.) Then we went back and forth trying to add the magnets in our hand to the refrigerator, matching up synonyms or antonyms on the words on the shapes. It doesn't take long before a honeycomb shape emerges!

If we didn't have any magnets to play, we drew a new one from the bucket. Still can't play? Then you forfeit your turn and the opponent gives it a shot.

Every time you are able to add a hexagon magnet to the refrigerator, you get another turn to play any magnet from your hand (no drawing on the second - or subsequent - plays during a turn, though).

Watch as you build an entire honeycomb of antonyms and synonyms!

The first player to play all of the hexagons in their hand wins.

Repetition to Remember Synonym vs. Antonym
With each hexagon that was played, my son and I said aloud whether the words we were matching were synonyms (words with a similar meaning) or antonyms (opposites). This reinforced what we learned from reading Cleary's books!


  1. I love this idea! My children always gravitate toward any work that has the word 'game' attached to it! If you don't mind me asking, what program did you use to make the hexagons with words? I can see stretching this idea to make matching math problems, upper/lowercase letters, rhyming words, and more!

    1. I designed this game in Microsoft Publisher, which was on my laptop unbeknownst to me until a friend pointed it out. You might check yours if you have the Microsoft Office suite of products. Triangles are another good shape to quiz kids with - check out my Subtraction brain bender puzzle:

  2. Brilliant game. Such fun to play and puzzle. Many thanks!