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Lesson Plans
The Wonder of Word Meanings
Preschool–Kindergarten
Objective Objective
  • Distinguishing shades of meaning among verbs describing the same general action
Materials Materials Needed
Introduction Introduction

Read aloud Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin Jr. As you are reading, have students notice the different ways animals make sounds.

Procedure Procedure

  1. Explain that words can sometimes describe the same (or a similar) general action, but they have slightly different meanings. For example, demonstrate (by acting out or modeling) that the words sip, slurp, guzzle and gulp all describe the action of drinking something, but each word conveys a slightly different way to do it.
  2. Tell students you are going to read the story again. Ask them to help you identify the action words in the story that describe the different ways each animal makes noise (e.g., roars, snorts, flutes, brays). Prompt students by asking, “Did you notice…?” or saying, “Let’s go back and see…”
  3. As students identify the words, write them on chart paper.
  4. Invite students to think of other words that describe different ways to speak or make noise. Add the words to the list.
Guided Practice Guided Practice

  1. Take students outside to a sidewalk, paved basketball court, driveway or other paved area.
  2. Using chalk, draw a starting line and a finish line about 30–50 yards apart.
  3. Invite students to think of verbs, or action words, that mean the same as go—but have specific meanings, such as run, hop, skip and tiptoe. Explain that these words all have different shades of meaning. Model the different movements and have students run, hop, skip and tiptoe to practice.
  4. Have groups of three to four students at a time take turns racing from the starting line to the finish line, using the various methods of going from one place to another. Encourage students to come up with as many more ways to go—and action words to describe them—as they can.
Independent Practice Independent Practice
  • Give each student a copy of the Shades of Meaning reproducible. (An answer key is provided.)
  • Have students complete the activity by filling in the blank in each sentence with a word from the box at the top of the page. Then encourage them to draw a picture that illustrates the different shade of meaning in each sentence.

View the preschool–kindergarten lesson plan. (Includes all printable materials.)
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