Denotation and Connotation

Subject: ELA (English Language Arts)

Lesson Length: 45 mins

Topic: Vocabulary Acquisition and Use

Grade Level: 6, 7, 8

Standards / Framework:

Brief Description: Understanding the difference between denotation, the strict meaning of a word, and connotation, the feeling the word conjures, can be challenging to wrap one’s head around. Visually demonstrate the difference for readers and writers.

Know Before You Start: It is helpful for students to be familiar with denotation and connotation.


  • Write the words skinny and slim on the board and explain that each is defined as thin in size (denotation.) 
  • Add these words to the list: wiry, delicate, lean, lanky, slight, and svelte.
  • Ask students to rank the list from positive to negative (connotation.)


  • Have students create a coherent and informative comic demonstrating both the denotation and connotation of a particular word.
    • Which is the literal meaning and which is the figurative meaning?
    • Does the word have a positive, negative, or neutral connotation?
    • How can this word be used uniquely in two different sentences?


  • Have students share and discuss their comics with a peer. 


  • Allow students to use the speech-to-text feature.
  • Allow students to use the voiceover feature to read their comics aloud.
  • Provide a list of words from which to choose that can be used in creating the comic.


  • Comic to print or display: Comic.