Vocabulary Building with Analogies
Word Play for Mental Strength
Analogies are a great way to sharpen the mind because they require logical thinking to solve. Besides knowing the meanings of the words, you must also understand the relationship expressed in the analogy. For this reason, analogies are perfect for vocabulary development. Analogies can encompass science, history, math or any other area.
The Importance of Analogies
Understanding analogous relationships is important for grasping many types of figurative language used in literature and poetry such as metaphors, similes, satire, and personification. In turn, an ability to craft analogies will help students express themselves vividly and maturely in their compositions. So analogies are important for language arts.
People who are good at solving analogies are usually good problem solvers in real life too. (See research.)They can look at a new problem and see the similarities to previous situations which they already know how to solve.
When analogies include subject area vocabulary and concepts, those disciplines are reinforced as well. There is no limit to the fields that analogies can touch -- geography, art, music, technology, journalism, and so on.
A is to B as C is to ___.
In solving an analogy, you must first understand the words given in the analogy as well as all of the potential answers. Your next step is to determine the relationship between the first two words in the analogy. Based on that relationship you can choose the answer for the second half of the analogy.
In solving analogies, it is best to mentally create a sentence expressing the relationships among the ideas. Just choosing an answer that seems to fit often will not work. Wrong answers (the distractors) are deliberately tricky.
projectile : trajectory :: automobile : _________
a. path c. combustion
b. route d. cartography
For this analogy, I would seek to understand the relationship between projectile and trajectory. I make a sentence to explain that relationship such as, "A projectile moves along its trajectory." Then I use that same type of sentence to solve the blank, "An automobile moves along its ____." The answer must be route. Path is a good distractor, but route is the best answer.
After your children have a good grasp of solving analogies, let them create their own. Crafting a good analogy, complete with tricky distractors, is more difficult than it seems. Be sure to allow your children access to reference books such as a dictionary, thesaurus, or encyclopedia.
The Miller Analogies Test
The MAT is a test used for entrance to many graduate schools. It is made up entirely of analogies.
Common Analogy Relationships
When teaching analogies, it is often helpful to introduce them by relationship. After becoming familiar with the part to whole relationship, flip it to whole to part. Then move on to tool and use or some other relationship. Most workbooks follow a similar pattern.
part to whole
rim : mug
object and its use
spade : dig
gleeful : joyous
irate : fuming
object and its characteristic
an item and its category
cellist : musician
Online Analogies Practice
- Understanding Analogies
This PDF explains how to solve analogies and gives many examples.
- Types of Analogies Practice
Instead of solving the analogy, in this exercise you determine the type of analogy or the relationship expressed. This is a good introductory activity.
- Holt, Rinehart, and Winston Worksheets
Another basic PDF set that explains what analogies are, lists examples, and includes sample multiple choice questions to solve.
- Analogies Sampler for K-12
These sample pages from a teaching resource run the gamut of simple, diagram style analogies to more complex ones.
- Vocabulary and Spelling Practice Book
This is a real find for high school worksheets! A complete Prentice-Hall workbook filled with prefix, suffix, and other vocabulary activities. See pages 22-24 for analogies practice.
- Samples from Perfection Learning Analogies Book C
These excerpts from an analogies workbook are quite nice. They include tips for solving analogies and some practice problems.
- Analogy Pocket Game
This blog post shares an idea for "pocket games" -- analogies on index cards. Free printable templates are included in the post.
An Analogy Workbook - for Grades 5-8
Research confirms that performance on analogies is one of the best measures of verbal comprehension and analytical thinking.