Semantics Hierarchy

I recently completed a course on Social Communication and one of the resources we were given was a list of ‘Semantics Hierarchy’. Semantics is the study of meanings of words and phrases in language.  I work with a lot of children who are receiving resource hours for a specific speech and language disorder so this list has been invaluable for me. In this blogpost I will share the list and give some examples of how I have covered each category in the resource room.

Labelling

  • Show a number of items – picture/objects. Ask the children to name each item.
  • Show a picture. Label as many things as you can in the picture.

Identifying from a description

  • What am I? Give the children 2/3 clues. (e.g. I am a vegetable. I look like a tree and I am green in colour)
  • Game – Articulate

Grouping Items Together Visually

  • Using pictures – get the children to put all the red things together/ vegetables/ vehicles etc.
  • Using objects and hoops – get the children to put all the green things in one hoop/ yellow in another etc.

Listing Within a Category

  • Give the children a category – see how many items they can name.
  • Use a timer – how many animals can you name in 2 minutes?
  • Throw a ball; when you catch the ball you have to name an item in the category.
  • The game ‘Stop the Bus’ is brilliant for this – with the extra challenge of listing an item with a certain letter of the alphabet. You can read more about this here.

Naming the Category

Give the children a list of items. Ask them to name the category. This can be done orally or using pictures/objects.

Listing Attributes of a Given Item

  • Give the children a noun; ask them to write 3 things about the noun. (E.g. Cat. A cat is furry, scratchy, cute.)

Describing

  • Give the children a noun; ask them to describe it in detail. (E.g. A cat is an animal, usually a pet. It’s fluffy and furry. It has a little box.)
  • What am I? Give the children 2/3 descriptions and ask them to guess the noun. (E.g. I am a vegetable. I am green. I look like a small tree. What am I? Broccoli! or I am an animal. I am very big and grey. I have a trunk. What am I? An elephant.
  • Hedbanz is a great game for this!

 

Identifying differences between items

  • What does ‘different’ mean?
  • Show two objects (concrete objects is best at the beginning). Ask the children to list things that are different. Move onto pictures and finally get the children to visualise the objects/animals etc.

Identifying similarities between items

  • What does ‘similar’ mean?
  • Show two objects (concrete objects is best at the beginning). Ask the children to list things that are similar. Move onto pictures and finally get the children to visualise the objects/animals etc

Comparing and Contrasting

Complete a Venn Diagram showing the similarities and differences between two items/animals/objects.

 

I’ve found this list really useful to assess where children are at and to build on their language and semantics skills.

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