Five Analogy Activities

Five Analogy Activities for Upper Elementary Students

Analogies are a powerful way to help your 4th and 5th-grade students learn new words. In this blog post, I will show you some fun and easy activities that you can use to teach analogies to your students using synonyms and antonyms. Synonyms and antonyms are the most common types of word relationships that you will encounter in analogies.

You will also find some resources that you can use to check your students’ understanding of analogies, such as response cards and a Boom Learning practice that I created for this post.

Teaching Standards

These activities align with the following Common Core State Standards:

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.4.5.c Demonstrate understanding of words by relating them to their opposites (antonyms) and to words with similar but not identical meanings (synonyms).
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.5.5.c Use the relationship between particular words (e.g., synonyms, antonyms, homographs) to better understand each of the words.


Be sure to get the handout. It includes the printables you need to complete some of the activities.

Analogy Activities for 4th and 5th Grade Students

Activity 1: Response Cards for Synonyms and Antonyms

Antonym and Synonym Response Cards

Response cards are a great way to keep your students engaged and check their understanding of word relationships. They are cards that students hold up to show their answers to questions or prompts. You can use them to review synonyms and antonyms with your students. 

For this activity, students need two response cards, one for synonyms and one for antonyms. You can print the response cards from the handout or make your own. One set of response cards has pictures to help differentiate instruction for your students.

To use the response cards, show your students a pair of words on the board or a screen. Ask them to identify if the words are synonyms or antonyms and hold up the corresponding response card. For example, if you show them smooth and rough, they should hold up the antonym card. You can quickly scan the room to see who has the correct answer and who needs more practice.

You can use the following word pairs for this activity or create your own:

  • early / late
  • smooth / rough
  • near / close
  • full / empty
  • large / giant

Activity 2: Round About Game for Analogy Practice

Antonym and Synonym Analogies

Round About is a fun game that helps your students practice analogies using synonyms and antonyms.

You must print out one set of analogy cards and a recording sheet for each student from the handout for this game. Cut the analogy cards apart before gameplay.

To play the game, follow these steps:

  • Give each student a recording sheet. Tape an analogy card with a word on each student’s back. Instead of tape, I like to use lanyards. Students hang these around their necks so the information pocket hangs down their backs. It is easy to slip the word cards into the pockets of the lanyards for this activity.
  • On the recording sheet, students have a list of analogies with the final word missing. To play the game, students walk around the room, looking for a word to complete each analogy. For example, if they see fast on someone’s card, they know this will complete the analogy – soft : loud :: slow : __________.
  • When an answer is spotted, students write it next to the corresponding number on their recording sheet. They can only write down the word if they find it on someone’s card. They cannot use their own words or guess.
  • Students continue this activity, completing as many analogies as possible until the timer goes off.

There are different recording sheets. Each corresponds to one of the three levels of difficulty for this game:

  • Level 1: On Level Readers: The analogies use common words appropriate for 4th–5th-grade students.
  • Level 2: Below-Level Readers: The analogies use the exact words as Level 1 but have pictures to help students understand the terms.
Analogy in Pictures
  • Level 3: Advanced Readers: The analogies use more challenging words for the first pair, but the second pair is the same as Levels 1 and 2. This way, all students can play the same game but at different difficulty levels.

You can choose which level to use for your students or mix and match them according to your students’ needs.

Activity 3: Boom Learning Deck for Analogy Practice

Antonym and Synonym Analogies using Boom Learning

Try this Boom Learning Deck I created if you want to use digital activities to teach analogies. Boom Learning is a platform that allows teachers to create and use interactive lessons and games for their students. You can assign them to your students online and get instant feedback on their progress and performance.

This Boom Learning Deck has the same analogies as the Round About Game but in a digital format. Your students will see an analogy with the last word missing and have to choose the correct word from a list of options. They will get immediate feedback on whether they are right or wrong. The handout includes the link to this Boom Deck.

Activities 4-6: Student Choice Activities for Analogies

You can let your students choose how they want to practice analogies for these activities. You can divide your students into groups of four and give them the three options of activities. They can work on one or more of these activities depending on their interests and abilities.

Option 1: Picture Analogies

Antonym and Synonym Picture Analogies

In this activity, each student will create a drawing that is part of an analogy. The group will decide whether to use synonyms or antonyms for their analogy. Then, they will pair up and make drawings that match each other.

For example, if they choose synonyms, one pair might draw a big house and a large mansion, and the other pair might be a tiny bicycle and a small car. The drawings should show the relationship between the words clearly.

The final product will look like a series of four pictures that form an analogy, such as:
big : large :: small : tiny

Option 2: Analogy Situation 

Antonym and Synonym Situational Analogies

In this activity, the group will create a poster that compares two real-life situations using an analogy. The analogy should be like a simile, a figure of speech that uses the words “like” or “as” to compare two things. The analogy should be creative and descriptive and show how the two situations are similar or different. 

For example, the group might write:

  • Going to the dentist was like walking into a haunted house.
  • Traveling on the school bus to Abingdon was like riding on a sailboat during a hurricane.
  • The excited child was opening the presents like a hungry lion tearing into its prey.
  • The nervous singer was performing on the stage like a deer caught in the headlights.
  • The angry driver was honking the horn like a madman banging on a door.
  • The curious cat was exploring the house like a detective searching for clues.
  • The lazy student was doing the homework like a snail crawling on a leaf.

Option 3: Analogy Poem

Antonym and Synonym Situational Analogy Poems

In this activity, the group will write a poem that uses analogies. The poem should have at least four lines, and each line should have an analogy with the last word rhyming with the previous line. The analogies can use synonyms, antonyms, or other word relationships. The poem should have a theme or a message that connects the analogies.

Poem Example 1
In is to out as up is to down.
Large is to huge as city is to town
Laugh is to cry as smile is to frown.
Left is to right as hat is to crown.

Poem Example 2

Life is like a roller coaster, full of ups and downs.
Sometimes you feel like a king, wearing a golden crown.
Other times you feel like a clown, making everyone laugh.
But no matter what you feel, you always have your path.

Analogies are an excellent way to help your students expand their vocabulary. I hope you will enjoy using these activities and resources to teach your students analogies using synonyms and antonyms. 😊

If you work with more advanced learners, check out this blog post that shows ways to teach analogies using a variety of word relationships.

Gay Miller

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