Friday, August 7, 2015


If You Were an Antonym (Word Fun) 
by Nancy Loewen
Illustrated by Sara Gray

A simple book and fun mentor text to use when modeling how to use word choice in thoughtful and meaning ways so that  students’ written stories will have an deeper impact on readers.

Antonyms and the concept of ‘opposite’ are relatively easy for students to understand—(including kindergarten and first graders) especially when they can see the two opposite words illustrated or demonstrated in some way (boy-girl; fast-slow; big-little, etc.)

The ease with understanding opposites makes them a great platform to take a step further. Through modeling in your mini-lesson, students at all levels can grasp the ideas of using opposites for emphasis and effect.  

It is important that students know that antonyms are more effective when they  placed near each other in the sentence.

For K-2 students that might mean modeling opposite sets to a class and encouraging them to include antonyms to describe a character’s action. For example: The tall boy with short legs ran quickly in the first part of the race, but slowed down at the end when he had to run up a hill.

For grades 3-5 students, an interesting activity with antonyms would be working with “Semantic Gradients” .  Here is one way to work this idea into your classroom: http://www.readingrockets.org/strategies/semantic_gradients

After the activity, the lists could be put on writing workshop charts, or perhaps you could take pictures of the lists and keep them in a handy binder on students’ desks for easy reference when they are ‘stuck’ and need a ‘good word’.

Older Students (grades 5 and above) might be ready for a discussion and modeling of how to use antithesis sentences in their writing.

If You Were an Antonym can set all these strategies in motion!

Book Talk
If You Were an Antonym introduces to readers what exactly antonyms are with simple written and illustrated examples (to begin with): early-late; big-small; dark-light.

Further in the book, readers learn about different kinds of antonyms: complementary, graded, relational and auto-antonym.  Readers learn that antonyms could have prefixes or suffixes, too.

An example: “If you were an antonym, you could be a complementary antonym. You would be all or nothing. You would either be one thing or another: on-off; heads-tails.

If you were an antonym, you could be a relational antonym. You would be in a pair with your opposite. You would have no meaning without your opposite: student-teacher; parent-child.”

If You Were an Antonym can be a catalyst for great discussions and strategies as your students explore grammar and using words in creative, interesting ways. 

Suggested Uses as a Mentor Text:
Book genre: Informational 
Reading Workshop strategies: Search For and Use Information
Writing Workshop strategies: Grammar, word choice, inspiring writers

There are many other books in this same series: If You Were a Conjunction, If You Were a Noun, If You Were a Palindrome, If You Were a Preposition If You Were a Synonym, If You Were an Adjective, If You Were a Verb (to just name a few!)

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