How to Teach Analogy to Kindergarten Students

Sponge painting is a fun activity for assessing the students' understanding of analogies.
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For many children, kindergarten exposes them to an entirely new world of words, problems and possibilities. At this age, most children are ready and eager to learn, and the more information they are exposed to, the more likely they are to be equipped to continue their education successfully. Kindergartners can be introduced to the idea of analogies, which will play a significant role in increasing vocabulary. Understanding analogies also provides students with the skills that accentuate memorization, problem-solving, reading and perception.

1 Understanding Analogy

An analogy shows the relationship between two things that are alike in some ways but, for the most part, are different. To illustrate this to children, you might have them list the similarities and differences between cars and boats. The cars and boats are both means of transportation, and they have some of the same parts, like a steering wheel and seats, but they are still different. Kids might also note that cars travel on the road, while boats travel on the water. Then create an analogy based on these observations that kindergartners can understand. The analogy could look like this: a car is to a road like a boat is to __. In this way, analogies become fun, like a puzzle. Students figure out how the first two things go together, and that will help them figure out the second part.

2 Examples of an Analogies

Because the kindergartners' vocabulary is limited, keep the analogies as simple as possible and limit your examples to items with which the students are familiar. You will also want to talk through the examples at first, giving the students the opportunity to understand what is it they're trying to figure out. For example, present the analogy “pencil is to write as crayon is to __.” Ask the students how pencil and write are related. If they still don't understand, ask a different question, such as, “What do you do with a pencil?” Once they understand that a pencil is used to write, you can help them reach the conclusion that a crayon is used to color. Carry on this process with several more examples.

3 The Different Types of Analogies

When first introducing analogies, especially to young children, it's tempting to stick with familiar types of analogies, such as synonyms (happy:joyful), antonyms (black:white) and part/whole relationships (finger:hand), but it is imperative that you reveal a variety of analogies to exhibit the number of connections items may have with one another. Other popular types of analogies include type (robin:bird), tool/worker (stethoscope:doctor), action/object (ride:bike) and item/location (stove:kitchen). All of these are concepts your kindergartners can comprehend, provided they are give adequate instruction and guidance.

4 Practicing Analogies

Set up three flashcards (i.e. finger:hand::toe:____) at a time, and allow the students to take turns finding the correct flashcard to complete the analogy. For the sake of time and simplicity, you may want to have three or four flashcards for the students to choose from for each analogy, rather than having them come up with answers on their own. If time permits, allow students to create and draw (or paint) pictures of their own analogies on a piece of paper. Some of the comparisons they produce may surprise you.

Dana Rongione has been writing since 2004. Her articles have appeared in "Teacher's Interaction" magazine, "Teachers of Vision" magazine and "Devo'zine." She is also the author of nine books. Rongione received two certificates of completion from The Institute of Children's Literature. She holds a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from Tabernacle Baptist Bible College.