Lessons for Figurative Language

One standard that seems to work its way into SO many lessons in the classroom is figurative language. There are so many worksheets on figurative language out there to use for practice, but I use a simple flipbook (glued into our interactive notebooks) and a few mentor texts to teach figurative language types in my classroom. Here’s an outline of my classroom lessons for figurative language. I’ve included each type of figurative language I teach, examples for figurative language, how I teach it within each lesson, and a freebie for you to use in your own classroom! I’ve also included affiliate links to the read alouds I use in my classroom.


First, we cut and glue this flipbook into our interactive notebooks. This takes a minute, but it saves LOTS of time in the long run! You can download this flipbook for FREE by clicking here. Here’s what the flipbook looks like when it’s all cut out.


Once our flipbooks are glued down, we dive right into each type of figurative language. I typically do one per day, however it can totally be adjusted to fit any class structure! My lesson plans for teaching figurative language, and the notes we take are very simple-yet I find that they are very effective!


This one my students are usually familiar with. I start by having them close their eyes, and I read them a sentence. First, I read a super boring sentence with NO description like, “The boy walked into the forest.” Then, I read them the same sentence, but with LOTS of detail and imagery. For example, “The tall, slender boy in the wrinkled blue shirt and cutoff jean shorts tiptoed past the drooping trees while red eyes stared him down.” Then, I have the students open their eyes and we talk about the difference in the two sentences, and the difference in what they were able to picture in their mind. That’s imagery!

Finally, we write the definition in our flip book, and read through Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, pointing out the imagery throughout! (There is a TON.) The picture below shows what we write in our flipbooks for imagery.


Simile & Metaphor

I teach similes and metaphors together because they typically go hand-in-hand. This topic could honestly turn into multiple lessons for figurative language, but here is a good starting point! To start, I keep it simple by just introducing the two, and then we write the definitions in our flip book. I like to have students try to compare the same two things using both a simile and a metaphor to really help the concept stick.

Then, we read Owl Moon (yes, again) and pull out all of the similes and metaphors! I like to pause as I’m reading and really discuss why the author would choose to use this type of figurative language as opposed to just writing plainly. Here’s a picture of what we write for similes and metaphors.



I ALWAYS start our discussion of alliteration with a tongue twister. (Sally sells seashells by the seashore) We giggle, and then I ask why it’s so hard to say. That leads into a discussion of starting lots of words in a sentence with the same letter, which leads right to alliteration! I always explain that this is one more trick that authors use to make their writing more interesting. I use the same book, Owl Moon to find alliteration in, however I usually just go back and read a few pages. Then, I like giving each student in my class a letter in the alphabet, and having them create their own silly sentence with lots of alliteration! These are always fun and the students love sharing. The picture below shows what we write in our flipbooks for alliteration.



For personification, I start with the word on the board. We pull out the word “person” and talk about what that might mean. We write the definition in our flipbooks with an example, and then we practice!

Here’s how I like to have my kiddos write some personification: We look outside, and around the room, and I have the kids pick an object. For this example we’ll say a stack of papers. We look at the object, and talk about what it’s “doing.” (the stack of papers is piled on the counter) Then, we talk about a human trait that would go along with what that object is “doing.” Depending on your students, this can REALLY require some scaffolding-just be patient! Okay so for my example, we could say that the stack of papers is laying down on the counter as a human would. Lastly, I have them add an emotion to their example. So, we could finish up with this sentence: The stack of papers laid itself down on the counter, patiently waiting to be picked up by a student.

Again, it can take a lot of scaffolding and examples, but it works well-I promise! And to finish it off, we of course find an example of personification in Owl Moon and add that to our flipbooks as well. (see picture below)



I keep onomatopoeia super simple because my kids usually grasp it quickly. We write the deifnition, and I show them lots of examples. Then, I like to have them create comic strips using onomatopoeia. You could totally do this right in the flipbook, but I usually give them a grid of six boxes. I put a list of onomatopoeia on the board, and give them about twenty minutes to write their comic strip. We share, point out onomatopoeia, and that’s it! I of course use an example from Owl Moon as well. Here’s a picture of what this flap looks like when we’re done.



To teach hyperboles, I start off just saying some examples of hyperboles they have probably heard before. (I’m so hungry I could die, I’m so tired I could sleep for days, You are driving me insane, etc.) We talk about how I’m not ACTUALLY dying of hunger, or how I couldn’t possibly sleep for several days. Then we compare the impact of those sentences, with the impact of just saying, I’m really hungry, or I’m tired. I tie that into hyperboles, and why authors include them in literature.

Then, (this is my favorite part) we do a hyperbole madlib that you can download for free here. These always turn out hilarious and the kids love them! Hyperboles are harder to find in literature, so I use Library Lil by Suzanne Williams. This story has several hyperboles that are great for discussion! The picture below shows what our flap looks like for hyperboles when we are all finished.



Idioms are hard to teach because there are SO many, and they’re impossible to know unless you just learn what they mean. I make that very clear to my students-that idioms literally have nothing to do with the words in the sentence! Once we get into idioms, it usually turns out being one of my favorite lessons for figurative language!

I partner my students up and give them each an idiom on a slip of paper, with the meaning of the idiom underneath. Then, I have them divide a larger piece of paper in half. On one half they draw the meaning of the idiom LITERALLY. On the other half they draw what the idiom actually means. For example, they could have a picture of cats and dogs falling out of the sky on one side, and then just really heavy rain drawn on the other side. To share, I have them only show the class the literal side of the drawing, and I have the kids guess what their idiom was. It’s fun to see which students know which idioms!

Lastly, we read There’s a Frog in My Throat!: 440 Animal Sayings A Little Bird Told Me, by Pat Street. This book is hilarious, and it has a ton of similes, metaphors, and idioms! It’s a ton of fun. We of course then fill out the last page of our flipbook, as pictured below.


Well there you have it – my lessons for figurative language and notes that I use! Teaching mood and tone along with figurative language? Click here for a lesson plan and freebie!

Need a fun way to practice figurative language once the flipbook is completed? Click here, or on the picture below for my figurative language sorting activities!


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