Fun with Figurative Language

So at my school, we started using a new series for reading instruction. This is a fairly new thing for us, as we typically just used novels in the past. However, there was a lack of an actual curriculum, which we felt was needed. Our scope and sequence was not consistent and many important concepts were being skipped altogether.

Now this is a good series – the stories are clever, with many of them coming from popular books, and the vocabulary words are always appropriate while not overwhelming. But the main issue we had with it was the lack of literary elements being taught. At the beginning of the theme (there are 6 total, each with 5 stories), an element is introduced. The problem is that this element is then reviewed over…and over…and over again. It really only goes through maybe 12 elements all year, and skips some really important ones!

One that is not covered at all is figurative language. This is a huge part of becoming a good writer as well, so I knew I wanted to cover it, I just wasn’t sure how. Enter PowerPoint.

PowerPoint is my lifesaver. No seriously, I use it for everything. Slideshows, important lessons, Christmas gifts…I just love it. My first year of teaching, I probably spent at least 12 hours every week creating a new PowerPoint for a lesson or something going on at school. Thankfully, the time has paid off; isn’t it amazing how a little bit of technology can make a huge difference in interesting students?? Crazy…but so wonderful.

So of course I went to PowerPoint for this as well. I decided to focus on 8 different types – similes, metaphors, personification, hyperbole, alliteration, assonance, idioms, and onomatopoeia. I created several slides for each type, discussing the definition of the term, why authors use it, lots of examples, and chances for the kids to create their own examples.

We went through the PowerPoint together in class last week and the kids were more involved than they had been at any other point during a reading lesson this year. After the PowerPoint, I had the kids fill out a bookmark with all eight types, definitions, and examples of each:


The story in our reader last week was perfect for identifying figurative language. I created four centers, for four of the types of figurative language (similes, metaphors, hyperbole, and personification). The students rotated through the centers with a group. This provided a review of these types and the chance to identify them in our story this week. I told them that if they could find more examples than I did, their group could get a prize – there’s nothing wrong with a little motivation, right?! 😉

Anyways, I am really pleased with how this lesson went. Overall, I think the kids have a good understanding of all 8. To be honest, the one they struggle with the most is metaphors – they still tend to say things like “The stars were dancing” and I have to remind them they need to COMPARE the stars to something, such as “the stars are dancers, twirling across the sky”. I finally realized that having them write it as a simile first is easier, then having them get rid of “like” or “as” helps them turn it into a metaphor.

If you are interested in my PowerPoint, it is posted on my TpT store – feel free to check it out! I’ve also included the centers and bookmark document; I’m happy for you to use them – just be careful when printing the bookmarks as you must print them back to back.

So what is your favorite way to teach? Is there a particular literary element you feel is more difficult to teach? I’m always looking for new ideas for my kiddos 🙂

Figurative Language Bookmarks

Figurative Language Centers

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Audra S.
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 22:14:47

    I love figurative language!! I teach just math and science classes to 4th grade, but I love to integrate other subjects. When I student taught (also in 4th grade) and did my unit on weather we practiced a different type of figurative language each day and related it to weather. Students illustrated it too every once in a while. We came up with examples and they each picked one randomly. They then drew a picture to go with it and explained what it actually meant. I remember one of my girls did “That test was a breeze!” and drew the test with wind blowing out the back of it. I picked a variety of types of figurative languages and created a bulletin board to show it. 🙂


  2. wordsiwouldsay
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 08:10:16

    That sounds fun, Audra! My next task for the kids is to incorporate this into their current writing piece. We’re also going to write poetry involving figurative language. I like the idea of making a bulletin board – I might have to do that with a blank board in my room – thanks for sharing!! Hope teaching is going well!


    Jan 23, 2013 @ 20:13:21

    I believe this amazing posting , “Fun with Figurative Language
    Fun in Fifth Grade at JCS”, exceptionally enjoyable
    and the blog post was indeed a very good read. Thanks a lot-Chelsea


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