by Kevin Stuckey, M.Ed., CCC-SLP
What Are Analogies?
Analogies are word relationships that compare two things that have a feature(s) in common but are otherwise unlike. Analogies follow a specific format.
An example of an analogy is, "Teacher is to School as Doctor is to Hospital." You can also write analogies like this,
"Teacher : School :: Doctor : Hospital." Other examples:
- Bird : Cage :: Dog : _______ (Doghouse)
- Hairbrush : Hair :: Toothbrush : ______ (Teeth)
- Bed : Bedroom :: Stove : _______ (Kitchen)
- Straw : Drink :: Fork : ______ (Food)
- Hat : Head :: Shoe : ______ (Foot)
Why Is It Important to Learn Analogies?
Analogies provide opportunities to learn important critical thinking skills—concepts such as part/whole, vocabulary, categories, opposites, functions, similarities, and differences. When children see the relationship between things through analogies, they can then build on that knowledge and learn more about those things. They can discover new ways to use things (e.g., using a broomstick as a pretend horse) and make broader comparisons between things. This can help expand their creativity.
How Can I Teach Analogies?
Analogies can be a fun way to teach children to think "outside of the box." Some ways to teach analogies may include:
- Using real objects to show what is alike and unlike between them (e.g., hold up a beach ball and an apple ).
- Making a list of similarities and differences (e.g., write a list on the chalkboard comparing an apartment building and a house ).
- Writing the definition of items to discover common features (e.g., write definitions for ocean and lake in a notebook).
- Drawing pictures of items to see similarities and differences (e.g., draw a cat and a dog ).
Expanding on analogies also helps increase a child's knowledge base. For example, in the analogy Bird : Cage :: Dog : _______ (Doghouse), you can list several features of each item and then list other things that share those features
(e.g., bird — beak and turtle — beak).