Lesson plan

Synonyms, Antonyms, and Oxymora

Review synonyms and antonyms by creating oxymora! An oxymoron is a fun way to integrate figurative language in students’ writing. This lesson will ask students to use antonyms to create their own oxymora.
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Students will be able to use their understanding of synonyms and antonyms to create oxymora.

(5 minutes)
Oxymoron CreationsObvious Oxymoron
  • Write the following on the board: "This is a genuine imitation Coach purse." Ask students to consider the sentence and discuss in what way the words "genuine" and "imitation" are related (e.g., they are antonyms). Have them define the word "genuine" and "imitation" to see the relationship between the two words.
  • Ask students to provide a definition for antonyms and synonyms. Define AntonymsAs words that have the opposite meaning and SynonymsAs words that have the same meaning. Provide some examples (e.g., absent/present, forward/backward).
(5 minutes)
  • Refer back to the sentence on the board and tell students that "genuine imitation" is an oxymoron. Explain that an OxymoronIs a play on words where two or more opposite words or ideas are joined to create a comical or dramatic emphasis. Tell them that when they have more than one oxymoron they're called Oxymora.
  • List three pairs of antonyms on the board and model the process of defining the words and then pairing their antonyms. Make sure to mention the synonyms of each word to highlight that antonyms are words that have an opposite meaning, unlike synonyms.
  • Write the following sentence on the board: "These jumbo shrimp are delicious!"
  • Identify the oxymoron in the sentence and explain that the words "jumbo shrimp" together create an oxymoron because shrimp are not big. They’re typically tiny and using the two antonyms together is a creative way to say the shrimp are probably unusually big.
(6 minutes)
  • Write the following sentences on the board:
    • "Leaving my favorite class for the last time was bittersweet."
    • "Honest robbers are still not the best friends to have in your life."
  • Ask students to pair off and identify the oxymoron, define the two words to show they’re antonyms and not synonyms, and explain the meaning of the oxymoron. Choose a student to repeat the three steps for the group and write them them on the board.
  • Distribute the lined paper so students can record their answers. Allow groups to share their answers.
  • Ask students to discuss with their partner why they think someone would want to use an oxymoron instead of just being more clear. Have students share their explanations and stand if they agree or stay seated if they disagree.
(10 minutes)
  • Distribute the Oxymoron Creations worksheet and read the directions for "Directions" and "Write it out." Have another student explain what they should do with the worksheet.
  • Allow students to share the answers to the questions, or the most interesting oxymoron.


  • Pre-teach and practise synonyms and antonyms and their function in sentences.
  • Allow students to work with synonyms and antonyms before providing them with a list of antonyms to pair off.
  • Give them time identifying oxymora before asking them to create their own.


  • Allow students to complete the "Think about it" section in the Oxymoron Creations worksheet.
(7 minutes)
  • Pass out the Obvious Oxymoron worksheet and ask students to complete the worksheet.
  • Treat students’ group work, oral responses, and answers on their worksheets as a formative assessment of their understanding of how antonyms create oxymora.
(3 minutes)
  • Ask students to share their own definitions of an oxymoron and have them choose their favorite oxymoron from the day.
  • Have students tell their partners what they learned and what they still think is confusing about oxymora. Ask for volunteers to share their answers with the class.

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