Create a Word Graveyard to Teach Synonyms October 25 2010

Are you tired of overused words in reading and writing assignments? This great activity for Halloween (or any other time of the year) helps kids expand their vocabularies while learning how to use a thesaurus.

Take advantage of this spooky time of year to have your kids create an Overused Word Graveyard for your classroom or hallway bulletin board. This free lesson plan requires very little planning or preparation. Start this activity in the afternoon and send it home to be finished for homework.


  • 11" x 17" white paper
  • thesaurus access for each student
  • a list of overused words
  • markers and colored pencils

The Plan

This would be a good time to discuss the purpose of headstones with your students. Talk about how headstones help memorialize people, giving basic information like the name of a person, the date of birth, the date of death and surviving family members.

Then with your students, make a list of all of the overused words you can think of on chart paper. Some of these might include mad, ugly, pretty, sad, and nice. Using one of these words as an example, write it on the chart paper that shows what it means. In the picture above, this student tried to write "ugly" in an unattractive way.

Once you have a sufficient list, start assigning one word per student.

The Directions

Once the class discussion is done, give the following directions to your students so they can complete their headstones.

  1. On the 11" x 17" paper sketch the  headstone.
  2. On the headstones, write your word in a way that shows its meaning. Remember, there's plenty of room, so write large.
  3. Include the date of birth for your word
  4. Include the date of death for your word
  5. Using a thesaurus, list as many synonyms for this word as you can - these are the word's Surviving Relatives
  6. Decorate!

Once the headstones are completed, construct a simple "Overused Word Graveyard" bulletin board for everyone to enjoy!