Black and white printables in the Thesaurus Day Unit Study.

Celebrate Thesaurus Day in Your Homeschool!

Did you know that January 18th is National Thesaurus Day each year? As soon as I heard of it, I knew it would be a fun day to introduce or review what a thesaurus is in our homeschool!

We have always been big fans of descriptive language and learning new vocabulary.  Writing and speaking with strong words is key to keeping our readers or listeners hooked and helping them fully envision what we are trying to communicate.  Choosing a synonym makes us think harder about exactly what we are trying to convey.  And finding and brainstorming synonyms can be fun!

Below are the best thesauruses to use and fun ideas for incorporating them into your homeschool on National Thesaurus Day or any other day of the year!  And if you like this unit study, check out our 30+ other FREE Unit Studies here.

Checkout this fun unit study to teach your kids all about what a thesaurus is including printables and games.

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Start the Day with a Gift of a Thesaurus

Kids love getting gifts.  What is more fun than coming down to breakfast and seeing a gift sitting there?  Even if a thesaurus might not be the gift one would put on a wish list, it is still fun to receive a gift when you least expect it!

If you have children in upper elementary or middle school, then here is the thesaurus to use!

Children's Illustrated Thesaurus (DK Children's Illustrated Reference)
  • Hardcover Book
  • DK (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages - 06/06/2017 (Publication Date) - DK Children (Publisher)

I love this thesaurus because it is full of pictures, the font is larger than many thesauruses and yet, it still has 4000 entries in it!  And not only does it list several synonyms for the words, it also contains short definitions for each of the 4000 words!  This is a book your children will love to pick up and look for strong words!  And don’t let the title “Children’s Thesaurus” throw you off.  It was created for ages 9-12 and could easily be used into early high school.

If you need a thesaurus for high school, then check out this one.

Online thesauruses can be helpful in a pinch, but I find them awfully distracting for our kids (and me!) and so we definitely prefer an actual book.

If you need one online, though, has a nice display with synonyms color-coded by how close they are to the original word.  Merriam-Webster has a more traditional display, but returns a lot more synonyms related to the word searched.  The Free Dictionary creates an interesting web diagram when it returns your search results and could make for some great discussions about the best synonym to choose and why.

Create a Thesaurus Day Challenge

Once your children have flipped through their new gift(s) and learned how they can be used, introduce a Thesaurus Day Challenge.  Tell them every time they use their thesaurus to look up a word during the day and use it in their writing or conversation, they will get a point.  Then, set a goal of a certain number of points with some sort of prize if that goal is met!

This can be a cooperative or a competitive challenge.  If cooperative, everyone’s points will be added together to reach the goal.  If your family prefers a competition, then keep everyone’s points separate.  How many points you set as the goal will depend on your children.  Maybe five points per person is enough or may be fifteen or twenty would be more appropriate if you have budding wordsmiths!

And pick whatever prize works for your family.  Maybe you all make a treat together or go out for ice cream if you complete the challenge.  Or maybe the kids earn extra screen time…that is always a hit in our house!  🙂

*See printable pack below for a chart to keep points.*

Make A Personalized Mini-Thesaurus

Have your children make a Personalized Mini-Thesaurus.  This thesaurus can contain words that are often overused such as ‘go’, ‘to-be’ verbs, ‘walk’, ‘said’, ‘nice’, ‘like’, ‘good’, ‘great’, ‘many’, etc.

A personalized thesaurus can also contain word banks centered around specific topics.  These can be created prior to a writing assignment.  If your child is going to write a story about being at the beach, they can create a list of words about that topic that will add interest and color to their story.

Black and white printed pages to create My Mini Thesaurus.

If your child likes to get creative, you can make this pocket chart together as their Personalized Mini-Thesaurus.

*See printable pack below for Mini-Thesaurus pages.”

Write a Story with Strong Words

Have your children use their thesauruses while writing or editing a story.  Not only is this an easy way to rack up points for the Thesaurus Challenge, but it is also a way to start a habit of using the thesaurus as part of the writing process.  And this is the whole goal of celebrating National Thesaurus Day in your homeschool, right?

You might use your regular writing curriculum or use the writing prompts in the printable pack below.  (If you like the writing prompts, then you will love this Mega Pack of writing resources!)

Printed pages of eight cards to a page with writing prompts.

Play a Thesaurus-Based Game

Games are always a great way to make learning fun and one of my favorites for thinking of alternative words to describe something is Taboo!  If you are not familiar with this game, one needs to have their partner guess a word on their card, BUT can not use the five forbidden words on the card in their clues!  In other words, they have to think of different words to get their partner to guess the main word.  The original games is suggested for 13 and up, but there is a Kids vs. Parents version that works well for younger children.

Hasbro Gaming Taboo Party Board Game With Buzzer for Kids Ages 13 and Up (Amazon Exclusive)
  • Classic game of unspeakable fun: want a great party game that makes people laugh. Check out the taboo board game -- FAST paced, fun game for large or small groups. For 4 or more players ages 13 and up
  • Food and drink cards: This exclusive edition of the taboo board game includes 450 game cards, including food and drink category cards for even more unspeakable fun
  • Taboo game with electronic buzzer: if a player says a Forbidden word on the card, they'll get interrupted by the buzzer, and lose a turn
  • Fun, fast-paced gameplay: liven up a party with the taboo game. Players race against the included timer to get through as many cards as they can to win

Quizmo is another Bingo-like game that would be good for older kids!

Learning Advantage QUIZMO Vocabulary - 36 Double-Sided Game Boards - Bingo-Style Language and Literacy Game for Kids - Teach Synonyms and Antonyms
  • READ AND UNDERSTAND BETTER -- Children aged 10-13 will match words with their synonym or antonym, which increases their listening vocabulary. Improve reading and comprehension with this engaging activity!
  • BUILD LITERACY AND COMMUNICATION -- QUIZMO Vocabulary develops language and memorization skills.
  • 2 GAMES IN 1 -- Game includes 36 double sided game boards with synonym and antonym game options.
  • EASILY RECOGNIZE ANTONYMS AND SYNONYMS -- Pink and blue color-coded flash cards include answers on the reverse side. Teach antonyms with pink side and synonyms with the blue.
  • A CLASSIC EDUCATIONAL SERIES -- Teachers have used QUIZMO to enrich children’s learning for decades. QUIZMO is a simple, bingo-style game suitable for a variety of group sizes.

Or try the two games in the printable packet below.  One is a Scattegory-like game where a letter is randomly picked and players race to think of synonyms starting with those letters for the commonly overused words.  There is also a Synonym Brainstorming Game in the packet.  A word is chosen and everyone has one minute to think of as many synonyms as they can.

Black and white printed pages of cards and answer forms for game.

Grab the Thesaurus Day Printables

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Hope you enjoy your Thesaurus Day!