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Visual Thesaurus

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The Visual Thesaurus is an interactive dictionary and thesaurus which creates word maps that blossom with meanings and branch to related words. Its innovative display encourages exploration and learning. You’ll understand language in a powerful new way.

Stumped for just that right phrase? Type in a term and watch as an interactive word map blossoms with meanings and branches to related words. Drag words around and play with them visually to engage a different part of your brain.

For younger students, the Visual Thesaurus makes clear what a thesaurus is and how powerful a tool it can be. Through the Visual Thesaurus’s innovative interfaces, students can immediately see all the words and meanings that are related to their word.

Older students can use the Visual Thesaurus as a vocabulary builder and will benefit from using more descriptive words in their creative writing, poetry writing and essay writing.  Professionals in writing and creative fields like advertising praise the Visual Thesaurus for its ability to spark creativity and the brainstorming processes.

You can try the Visual Thesaurus out free. You can purchase an online subscription or software. The site includes some great information and lessons useful to homeschoolers. Here are a few:

Introducing Synonyms to Early Writers

This lesson introduces students to the basic concept of a synonym and how varying vocabulary usage through synonyms can enhance their writing. Students will also synthesize their understanding of synonyms and the Visual Thesaurus by playing “Synonym Charades,” a fun guessing game where students will figure out original book or movie titles based on synonym clues.

Learning Grammar Through Wordplay

In this lesson, students master some of the more interesting and challenging vocabulary words from a New York Times article by analyzing the writer’s use of nouns and verbs in the article and then constructing original sentences using those words in different contexts. This lesson has multiple objectives-to teach the grammatical components of a sentence, to help students broaden their vocabularies, and to help students use wordplay as a means of teaching sentence structure.

Making an Argument: Effective use of Transition Words

Students explore and understand the use of transition words in context and write their own persuasive essay using transition words.

Using Descriptive Language

In this lesson, students analyze a writer’s use of sensory details and descriptive language in a New York Times article reviewing the Apple iPhone. Then, students are asked to write original product reviews which incorporate some of the descriptive writing techniques identified and evaluated in class.

Exploring the Power of Puns

In this lesson, students are asked to analyze various Shakespearean and contemporary puns and how particular words make these puns possible. They will use the Visual Thesaurus to examine the subjects of this wordplay and to help them create original puns in small groups.

Seeing Words in a New Way

In this lesson, students are introduced to the basic functions of the Visual Thesaurus by comparing and contrasting the use of a traditional dictionary and the use of the Visual Thesaurus to explore a word’s meaning.

Introduction to the Visual Thesaurus: Words Have Multiple Meanings

After completing this lesson, students will have a better understanding of some common words, including an understanding that simple words may have multiple meanings. Students also learn of the value of using a thesaurus as part of their writing process. By learning more of the options for word choice, students can better express themselves.

Exploring Descriptive Language with Different Parts of Speech

Students gain experience writing, choosing appropriate language, and understanding parts of speech. Students learn that words have multiple functions when used in different contexts. Through these exercises, students gain practice in writing, and learn how word choice can affect both meaning and intent.


Robin Sampson


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  1. Thanks Robin!

  2. Lexipedia found at http://www.lexipedia.com is a fully functional version of Visual Thesaurus however it is free and has an expanded view of words and languages.

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