English - Thesaurus bigs up T-rex

20th January 2012 at 00:00

What the lesson is about

His lip quivered and his eyes watered. Disappointment was writ large across his anguished face. Blaydn had been expecting an enormous creature, reptilian in appearance and ferocious in intent, to rumble out of the Upper Cretaceous period and into our literacy period, writes Steve Eddison. What he had not anticipated was a modest book from the reference shelf of our class library.

"You said we were going to get a thesaurus," he grumbled.

"This is a thesaurus. Look, the-saur-us." I tap out the syllables.

"Well, it looks like a boring book to me."

"Well, a thesaurus is no ordinary book. It is a treasure trove of terminology; a secret storehouse of synonyms; a vast volume of vocabulary."

He did not look convinced.

"Right, children, today we are going to make boring words extinct. This very morning we will do to dull vocabulary what a 65-million-year-old asteroid did to the age of the Terrible Lizard".

After five minutes spent finding alternatives to the words "big" and "fierce", the rumblings of excitement could be felt. The boring sentence was revealed - "The big tyrannosaurus rex with his fierce bite killed the shy hadrosaur" - and the thesaurus released.

Before long, a competitive edge had introduced itself. Pages were flicked, letter counts made, the air was punched and the dinosaur from the bookshelf began to get dangerously out of control.

"The immense, colossal and gargantuan tyrannosaurus rex' is great, Blaydn. I just think `His uncontrollably passionate oral-mastication technique mortally penetrated the obligingly submissive hadrosaur' might be a bit over the top."

Where to find it

For dinosaur sources to improve literacy skills, check out sarahlouiseharris's termly plan.

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