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Analogy Card Games
Ages: 6-11   Grades: 1-6

Teach analogies in a hierarchy and help students learn word relationships.  When they master the last activity, they'll know ten ways to think about word meanings. 


  • Detect word relationships to complete analogies
  • Improve language-based thinking
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Students learn to discriminate word relationships with this hierarchy of activities and games.  The three card decks are arranged in order of difficulty by grade level.  Each card deck contains 52 partial analogies (or 26 complete analogies when pairs of cards are matched by the same type of word relationship) and two wild cards.  The cards within each deck are arranged in order of vocabulary difficulty level. 

Students match and complete analogies based on ten types of word relationships: 

Antonyms Same Category
Synonyms Description
Homophones           Sequence
A Part Of Location
A Kind Of Tells the Use

Use the cards in this hierarchy of games and activities:

  • Classify the Partial Analogy
    Match partial analogies (e.g., trunk is to tree) to the relationship between the two words on the card (A Part Of). 
  • Match the Partial Analogy Cards
    Find cards with analogies based on the same word relationship (e.g., trunk is to tree, and mane is to horse are examples of "A Part Of" word relationships).
  • Memory Game
    Play Memory using partial analogy cards that can be combined to make complete analogies. 
  • Complete the Analogy
    Select a partial analogy card, identify the type of word relationship the card shows, and complete the analogy either verbally or in written form. 
  • Card Game for Analogy Completion
    Earn points by completing as many analogies as possible until all of the analogies in the deck have been completed. 
  • Read and Complete
    The cards are sorted into pairs of complete analogies.  The complete analogies are read, leaving one word out (fire is to hot as ice is to _____).  The student must verbally fill in the blank to complete the analogy. 
  • Pick Four
    Identify a group of four words (word lists are provided in the instructions) which could be used to form an analogy. 
  • Go Fish
    Ask for cards by stating the desired word relationship e.g., "Do you have a card that has synonyms?" or "Do you have a card that goes with kind is to nice?"

Copyright © 2004

3 card decks (52 cards and 2 wild cards per deck), 10 header cards, instructions, answer key, vinyl Velcro® bag
  • Children with language disorders showed significant improvement on direct intervention and instruction in analogical reasoning (Masterson & Perrey, 1999).
  • Effective vocabulary instruction strategies engage the student and require higher-level cognitive processing.  These strategies include using new words in novel sentences based on connections to prior knowledge, identifying synonyms and antonyms, analyzing word features, and using visual aids (Kester-Phillips, Foote, & Harper, 2008).
  • Students need to understand semantic connections among words.  It may be necessary to target understanding of basic concepts that underpin the vocabulary required to access the curriculum (Taylor-Goh, 2005).
  • Association is a powerful way of connecting new vocabulary to well established vocabulary (Bromley, 2007).

Analogy Card Games incorporates these principles and is also based on expert professional practice.


Bromley, K. (2007). Nine things every teacher should know about words and vocabulary instruction. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 50(7), 528-537.

Kester-Phillips, D.C., Foote, C.J., & Harper, L.J. (2008). Strategies for effective vocabulary instruction. Reading Improvement, 45(2), 62-68.

Masterson, J.J., & Perrey, C.D. (1999). Training analogical reasoning skills in children with language disorders. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 8, 53-61.

Taylor-Goh, S. (2005). Royal college of speech & language therapists: Clinical guidelines. United Kingdom: Speechmark.


Sherry C. Keller


Sherry C. Keller, M.S., CCC-SLP, received her bachelor's and master's degrees from Fort Hays State University.  She has over 30 years of experience as a speech-language pathologist in the public schools in Kansas.  Sherry has worked primarily with students in preschool through fifth grade.  Recently she implemented a language/listening lab at one of her elementary schools.

In her spare time, Sherry enjoys bowling, reading, golf, walking her dog, and spending time with her family.  Analogy Card Games is Sherry's first publication with LinguiSystems.


An analogy is a logic form in which words are compared in a specific pattern, such as this one:

  • collar is to shirt as sleeve is to sweater

Analogies are used in many standardized tests to assess students' abilities to analyze word relationships.  One word is usually left out of the analogy; the student must supply the missing word that will duplicate the relationship between the words in the first half of the analogy:

  • collar is to shirt as sleeve is to ____

In this case, the relationship of the words in the first half is that a collar is part of a shirt.  To complete the second half of this analogy, one must apply the same relationship; a sleeve is part of a ____.  The answer could be any piece of clothing that normally can have a sleeve:

  • collar is to shirt as sleeve is to sweater

Children with language problems often have difficulty understanding and, therefore, completing an analogy.  They fail to detect the relationship between the two words in the first part of the analogy.  The ultimate purpose of Analogy Card Games is to teach students how to complete written analogies correctly.  By participating in the hierarchy of activities and games, students will learn to determine the types of word relationships in partial (half) analogies and to successfully complete whole analogies.

There are three decks of cards and one set of heading cards in Analogy Card Games.  Each deck of cards contains 52 partial analogies (or 26 complete analogies when pairs of cards are matched by the same type of word relationship) and two Wild Cards.  The decks are arranged in order of the difficulty of the vocabulary words used.  These decks correspond to the following grade levels:

  • Deck 1: Grades 1-2
  • Deck 2: Grades 3-4
  • Deck 3: Grades 5-6

For more advanced students, cards from the three decks may be combined.  Each card is numbered in the lower right-hand corner.  The heading cards are used to help students sort the partial analogy cards by the types of word relationships they represent.  They may also be used as prompts to help students remember key word relationships during any of the other activities or games.  Note that these headings include only the most common analogy relationships, including these:

Antonyms (Opposites) Same Category
Synonyms Description
Homophones Sequence
A Part Of Location
A Kind Of Tells the Use


Once students have mastered these word relationships, encourage them to keep a list of other analogy relationships they encounter in their classwork and reading.