Have some vocabulary fun
with this bell-ringer activity
that introduces students to contronyms
(words and phrases with opposite meanings, depending on how they are used in a sentence).
As you use this activity, be prepared to hear students say, “I never thought about that!”
This 4-page printable activity
first defines the term and then introduces students to four common contronyms:
(meaning either of good quality
or of poor quality
(meaning either to secure
or to run away
(meaning either moving
or unable to move
(meaning either something given for good behavior
or something given for bad behavior
After learning about contronyms
, students use clues on a worksheet to find thirteen additional common contronyms. They examine the two opposite definitions of a word or phrase (like withstand
or wear away
, see what letter the contronym begins with and how many letters it has (in this case, a seven-letter word beginning with w
. Using these clues, they determine the contronym. (Did you think of it? It’s weather
This activity teaches both vocabulary skills
and writing skills
because students realize that, when they use contronyms, they have to be precise in letting readers know which meaning they intend.
This classroom-tested activity is suitable for upper elementary, middle school, high school, and college classes. Created by Susan Thurman.
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Here are other Class Act Press products you and your students might enjoy:
• FREEBIE!!! An Idiom by Any Other Name
• On Second Thought: Looking at Phrases That Use "Second"
• Tips of the Slung: A Humorous Look at Spoonerisms
• Amusing Adverbs: Fun with Tom Swifties