Figurative language can be a really fun standard to work on with your students, but it also can be tricky for them to comprehend.
Understanding the difference between literal and figurative language doesn’t always come naturally to students. Below are some tips for teaching figurative language to your students.
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What is figurative language?
Figurative language is language that goes beyond the literal meaning to help get a point across.
Different types include:
Similes is a great one to begin with when you are first introducing figurative language to your students. As a class, you can work together to make similes. Create an anchor chart and brainstorm how many similes you can come up with for how sticky something is.
Similar to similes, metaphors involve comparing things. Metaphors are usually taught second because they are a little more abstract. Gather many examples together to help teach your students metaphors. Write about what each metaphor really means.
Idioms are usually a student favorite because they sound like nonsense! Gather together examples of idioms, then have your students draw pictures of what they imagine it to really mean. If I told you it was raining cats and dogs outside, draw what type of rain you would actually expect to see.
When teaching hyperbole, I always do it dramatically! After all hyperboles are exaggerations. Start your lesson off by telling your students they have a THOUSAND things to learn today! Work together as a class to generate silly hyperboles.
Personification really makes reading more interesting. Read books with your students and look for examples of personification. They are everywhere! Then, give your students a generic sentence and have them add personification to it to make it more interesting!
Teaching Figurative Language
One of my favorite ways to teach figurative language is by reading Amelia Bedelia stories to my class.
In the stories, Amelia Bedelia always has a hard time understanding things because she takes them too literally!
These books often make students laugh and begin to understand how some things we say can have a deeper meaning.
Other easy ways to teach figurative language:
- Read plenty of books together as a class. Make lists of the different examples of figurative language from the texts. How many idioms, similes, and metaphors can you find? Are there any instances of hyperbole? Where did the author use personification?
- Take an example of figurative language from a book you read with your class and write it on the board. Challenge students to rewrite the sentence using a different type of figurative language.
- Create a T chart with many idioms in one column. As a class, discuss the meaning of each idiom. Have students write about a time they….(had butterflies in their stomach).
- Have a dress-up day where students can dress up as an idiom and act like their idiom all day. (Send home a list of idioms to help families think of something students can wear.) Example: a student might wear a shirt with butterflies taped on the stomach to represent “butterflies in my stomach.” Then, all day, the student can act nervous.
Let me help you teach figurative language! I’ve got lots of lessons here!