Figurative language will make your students better writers. But, teaching it, especially to littles, can be a task.
Learning the differences between idioms, similes, and metaphors can be tough for students who have trouble with abstract ideas.
Let’s find some ways to make it fun, engaging, and memorable!
I have always LOVED to use the chapter book Punished! by David Lubar with my third graders. But you could always tell who understood the figurative language references and who did not by the laughter (or blank stares).
Using the same book with older students definitely resulted in more giggles as I read aloud.
It really shows how students who have not yet mastered abstract concepts might struggle with simple figurative language understanding, let alone expecting them to add it independently to their writing assignments.
6 Types of Figurative Language
There is an entire list for different types of figurative language:
But when teaching beginning figurative language, elementary teachers tend to stick with these 6 types:
Simile – Involves the comparison of 2 things; uses the words like or as
Example: The boy was brave as a lion.
Metaphor – Figure of speech where an object or action is said to be something else, but not literally.
Example: My sister is the black sheep in our family.
Personification – Applying a human quality to something nonhuman
Example: The wind howled through the night and kept me awake.
Idiom – A phrase of words that means something completely different from the meanings of the separate words.
Example: It’s raining cats and dogs outside.
Pun – A joke that uses a multiple meaning word in a different way than usual.
Example: Why do amphibians take the bus? Because their cars are always getting toad.
Onomatopoeia – A word that sounds like the way it is read
Example: sizzle or whoosh
I know I said 6 types, but I live this one so much, I included a bonus figure of speech…
Bonus: Alliteration – A phrase or sentence that has multiple words that begin with the same sound.
Example: Sandy shows us her seashells she searched for at the sea.
Anchor Chart Examples
Need some classroom anchor charts to help your visualize learners? Check out these great suggestions below!
Love this basic chart that describes so many different types of figures of speech in one spot!
Lots of fun examples for basic types of figurative language.
Angry Birds never looked so good in a classroom!
The hand drawn images are adorable on this anchor chart.
Explaining the difference between figurative and literal language perfectly!
This idiom of the week chart is awesome! It can be easily changed from week to week and will really help students who aren’t familiar with many idioms.
Free Figurative Language eBook
Every Wednesday (or most anyway), I throw out a Collaboration Wednesday question and thanks to the fans at The OC Blog’s Facebook fan page, I was able to put together an 11-page freebie eBook all about ideas for teaching figurative language!
Very cool and thanks to all those who contributed in the newest eBook!
What are your best figurative language instruction tips? We would love to hear them in a comment below!