Adjective Chains

Grade Levels: 3 - 5


  • Students will become familiar with using a thesaurus.
  • Students will increase their vocabulary.
  • Students will use a hands-on activity to learn vocabulary and adjective use.


  • Construction paper, cut into 1 inch strips
  • Magic Markers
  • One thesaurus for each student/group
  • A list of adjectives that are overused. (ex: good, bad, mean, fast, etc.)


  1. Give each group an adjective. Tell them that the word is almost dead from overuse and they need to find words that mean the same (synonyms) to help keep their word alive.
  2. Give each group a thesaurus and plenty of paper strips.
  3. Have them put their overused word (in BIG BOLD colors and letters) on a regular piece of construction paper.
  4. The students find synonyms in the thesaurus for their word.
  5. They write one synonym on each strip of paper and make a chain link.
  6. Students continue writing new synonyms on paper strips and linking the chain together until they have exhausted their list of synonyms.
  7. Next, hang the chains on the walls or bulletin boards where they are easily accessible.
  8. Leave the chains up for any period of time you wish.
  9. When a student overuses one of these words in his/her writing, tell them to go to the appropriate adjective chain and find a new word for the old one they used. Eventually, they prefer a thesaurus for finding their words and thus have learned its value.

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