Tag Archives: thesaurus

Second Grade Writes “Never” Poems

Second grade students created poems for National Poetry Month using a template (https://writeshop.com/writing-a-never-poem)  for a “Never Poem” which emphasizes repetition and alliteration.  We discussed what poetry was and some of the characteristics of poems.  I modelled the writing using a white board and let the students help me think up words (all starting with the same consonant). Then we talked about adjectives and added adjectives to describe the nouns we had chosen.

Photos of never poems

Dictionary and Thesaurus Available

I had dictionaries and thesauri at the tables to help them find words if they were drawing a blank; this also served as a review for these reference sources.

Flipgrid for an Audience

One class had the chance to record themselves reading their poems on Flipgrid, but due to time restraints (state test prep, etc.) the others might not get to record.  I think it is important to give the students opportunities to record themselves.  It is a good learning experience and they love to see and hear themselves! flipgrid.com/3a42d1

screen capture of Flipgrid




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Tricking the Tallyman, Government & Reference Tools



I enjoy reading Jacqueline Davies’ Tricking the Tallyman: The Great Census Shenanigans of 1790 to 3rd grade students. It’s illustrated by S.D. Schindler.  Hey, how often do you get to use words like shenanigans, scoundrel and phrases like “cheese and chowder”?  Our 3rd graders have a unit on government and its functions, so it’s a fun way to dive into those ideas.

Georgia Performance Standards SS3CG1 The student will explain the importance of the basic principles that provide the foundation of a republican form of government

c. State an example of the responsibilities of each level and branch of government.

This is how we tie in the book, because it covers the census, taxes, representation, government services, and conscription.  img_0093

Practice Using Reference Tools

By this time in the school year, we have already used a dictionary, thesaurus, an atlas and an encyclopedia (both print and online), so I decided we would practice again.  There are some unfamiliar words and concepts in Davies’ book, so I thought we would become more familiar with them before we read the book.

I divided them up amongst the different reference tools. They looked up tricky words in the dictionary and thesaurus (tally, census, scoundrel, heartsick, shenanigans, conscription, tax, etc).  For the atlas activity the students found Montpelier, Vermont (Tunbridge is so small that it wasn’t in our road atlases) and noted what they could learn from looking at the map.  Using our online World Book Encyclopedia, the students answered questions about the census.

Students recorded their findings.

Students recorded their findings.


The following visit we shared what we learned and then we read the book.  I think the students understood the book more fully having familiarity with the new words and concepts.

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Thesaurus Follow Up

I have been teaching our 3rd grade students about reference tools, using props of real tools (hammer, screw driver, saw, pliers) to reinforce the concept of tools.  After a week’s break when we celebrated Dot Day, I’m resuming reference tools.


So, to get us back on track I read the book, Boris Ate a Thesaurus by Neil Steven Klayman (illustrated by Barry Chung, Super Senses Production, 2014).  Boris eats a thesaurus and as a result he starts speaking in synonyms!  It was good review of what synonyms are and that the “tool” you use to find them is the thesaurus.  Fun text with bright illustrations.img_9719

Several students made a connection with another book I always manage to read to several classes each year.  The story reminded them of Oliver Jeffers’ The Incredible Book Eating Boy.

Next week we move onto atlases.

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3rd Grades Thesaurus & Synonym Rolls

A repeat activity and instruction from last year, but it was so successful it was worth a repeat.  I give the students a word to look up in a traditional thesaurus and ask them to write down three synonyms on their “synonym roll.”  I bookmark  an online thesaurus and ask them to add to their list.

They cut out their rolls after they have written down plenty of synonyms.  I did add one twist this year.  After the students filled in their synonym roll with synonyms, the placed their cut out roll on a baking sheet!  They got a kick out of that.  It was just a place for them to drop their rolls as they moved on to checking out their books.  They all finished at different times and they usually ask over and over, “What do I do with…?” even after clear instructions, but this time they all rmembered to place their roll on the cookie sheet!


Students used an online thesaurus after starting out with the traditional version.  Used either Merriam Webster or Thesaurus.Com.

We collected the rolls as students finished on a baking sheet.

We collected the rolls as students finished on a baking sheet.

Synonym Rolls displayed in the hallway.

Synonym Rolls displayed in the hallway.


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April is National Poetry Month-“Never” Poems

All week we have been reading and writing poetry in the library!  The second grade students had a chance to write a poem involving alliteration.  I found a pin on Pinterest that led me to an entry on WriteShop.com called ” ‘Never’ Poems: Write a Silly Poem” by Kim Kautzer.  It is silly and the children had a ton of fun writing and reading their poems.

Coming Up with Words: Word Bank, Dictionary and Thesaurus

We have 4 second grade classes at my school, so I had the opportunity to modify and adapt my instruction as the week went on.  Of course, the last class went the smoothest and was probably the most successful.  I like to think of this as perfecting the process for next year!  First we discussed what the students knew about poetry and I mentioned that repetition is common in poetry and alliteration is also found in poems.  I found that the students had an easier time writing if they chose a consonant and just brainstormed words that began with that letter first and wrote them down.  They then worked from the list they wrote.  After working with two classes I decided we needed to have dictionary and thesaurus on each table for those that got stuck or couldn’t think of enough words.

Format for the Poem

Here is the format:

I would never eat

I would never wear

I would never buy

I would never read

I would never go

I would always like to think about

And I promise I will neverNever Poem by 2nd grade students using template

Flipgrid and Facebook

The students had a good time writing these poems.  They would tickle themselves when reading them and just laugh out loud!  How fun to hear laughter in the library.  I chose the best poems and had those students record themselves using Flipgrid.  We pay for a subscription to Flipgrid and it is worth it!  Flipgrid provides the students with an opportunity to videotape themselves and quickly see the results.  It also gives the students an authentic audience.  After I finished recording each class, I emailed the link to the teacher so that all the students could see the videos of the poems.

Our school now has a Facebook page (run by yours truly!), which gives us the chance to showcase our students’ work to an even wider audience.  It’s also an incentive.  When I tell the students that I will be choosing the best work to video tape, some will ask, “Are you going to put it on Facebook?”

Watch our students reading their “Never Poem”.  http://flipgrid.com/#2cb48680

Flipgrid screenshot


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Synonym Rolls


A synonym roll where the student started by writing in their assigned word and added synonyms in a spiral.

A synonym roll where the student started by writing in their assigned word and added synonyms in a spiral.

IMG_8361Pinterest can be such a life saver and source of inspiration (plus a time-suck if you are not careful).  I was looking for a different activity to use with 3rd grade students to practice thesaurus skills.  Bingo!  Found a cute idea on Pinterest that showed a bulletin board, “Synonym Rolls”.  This pin used paper cut outs in the shape of cinnamon rolls, on which synonyms were written in a spiral.

The students had looked up words in a dictionary the previous week and I used the same list of words to look up in the thesaurus, hopefully there would be a benefit to repeating the same words.

I gave them a slip of paper with a word on it (reused these slips for all 4 classes) and we reviewed the skills needed to use a thesaurus: alphabetical order and guide words.  They wrote their word in the center of the cinnamon roll and copied as many synonyms as were listed in their thesaurus.  It’s hard to tell in the photo, but I ran off the rolls on tan copy paper.

I had a PowerPoint looping on our large screen television that consisted of  a series of photos of cinnamon rolls to reinforce the play on words of cinnamon and synonyms.  It sure made everyone hungry!

After completing their rolls, the students cut out them out and  glued them onto a large sheet of paper to resemble a box of rolls.




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Third Grade: In the Thick of a Thesaurus

The Second in the Reference Tool Series

In keeping with the theme of “tools”,  I reviewed or introduced (depending on the individual student’s experience) a new reference tool, a thesaurus.


Used real tools to help the students relate that reference tools also have unique purposes

First, we reviewed the different functions of real tools (like screwdrivers, hammers, etc.) and discussed what would happen if you used the wrong tool for the job.  Frustration or failure!  We made the connection with reference tools, each having a different function or purpose.  We use the word “function” as this an International Baccalaureate key concept and we are an IB Primary Years Programme.  We reviewed the functions of the dictionary, so that later we could compare it once we determined the functions of a thesaurus.

Thesaurus Graphic Organizer

I found this graphic organizer online and adapted it a bit.  I wanted the students to get some practice in using a thesaurus while looking up some interesting words.

Graphic organizer for thesaurus

Graphic organizer students used to practice using the thesaurus.

Online Thesaurus

Our students will be getting Dell Venue tablets soon, so I wanted to make the connection between traditional, print thesaurus and its online cousin.  After we used the printed thesaurus the students moved to computers to use Thesaurus.com and looked up a word to find its synonyms.  After this activity we compared the form and function of a paper vs an online thesaurus.  Students noticed a difference of form but not function!

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