Our students are surrounded with figurative language in their day-to-day conversations with adults. But have we ever stopped to wonder if they’re actually understanding what we mean?
“Liam, you hit the nail on the head!” “Uhm… ok?”
For students, especially ELL students, these stretches of meanings can be downright confusing! Incorporating engaging figurative language lessons into your instruction can help students have a better understanding of the different types of non-literal language and how to decode what certain phrases actually mean.
Let’s dive into some fun figurative language activities your elementary students will love!
Figurative Language Poetry Activities
Review figurative language and poetry elements in a fun and meaningful way with this picnic-themed activity pack!
Fun Activities to Teach Figurative Language
Wondering how to teach figurative language to 3rd graders while making instruction collaborate and interactive for your students? I’ve got you covered! Here are some fun figurative language activities that are sure to help your students feel more comfortable with using idioms, similes, and metaphors on a daily basis.
Create a Figurative Language Reference Book
Having an interactive reference book is helpful for your students to refer back to examples of figurative language that they have learned. Plus, it helps students stay organized by keeping all of their notes in one place.
This DIY figurative language printable booklet can be glued into their interactive grammar notebooks or taken home to use as a reference guide. Students will read literal statements and create idioms, hyperboles, metaphors, and similes to match the phrases.
Find Figurative Language in Songs
A fun way to engage students is by turning on some music and allowing them to find examples of figurative language in the songs that they enjoy. Display the lyrics on the board (make sure they’re PG first!) and stop to highlight and discuss examples of idioms and metaphors in the songs.
You can turn this into a figurative language group activity by printing out different song lyrics for each group. Have students work together to highlight and identify the different types of figurative language within the song.
Here are some examples of kid-friendly songs that include figurative language:
- “Firework” by Katy Perry – “Do you ever feel like a plastic bag, drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?”
- “You Are My Sunshine” by Johnny Cash – “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray.”
- “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake – “I got that sunshine in my pocket, got that good soul in my feet.”
- “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift – “I’m lightning on my feet, and that’s what they don’t see.”
Host a Gallery Walk
Here’s an interactive figurative language project activity: Gallery Walks! Students will bring figurative language to life by creating posters of an idiom and/or metaphor. For this activity, have students choose a strip of paper featuring an example of figurative language from a hat. Have students create a poster with a literal picture of the saying and a sentence underneath that uses the phrases.
Then, display the posters around the room for a figurative language gallery walk. Students will look at each poster and try to interpret what the saying means.
Want to turn this gallery walk into a more hands-on figurative language project?
Give students post-its and allow them to add a note to each poster explaining what they believe the figurative language phrase means.
Dress Up Like an Idiom Day
This is an activity on idioms that students will never forget! Everyone loves to dress up, so why not make it educational? For this idea, have students come to school dressed as an idiom and act as that idiom throughout the day.
Students will have fun trying to guess what idiom each child represents!
Create Poems with Figurative Language
Get your students comfortable with writing figurative language in their own poetry.
Choose which figurative language you want your students to work on (or let them choose!) and have them create a poem that incorporates multiple examples of that figurative language device.
Turn this into a fun figurative language writing activity and classroom transformation by hosting a “picnic day”. Head outside with a blanket and let students share their poems with their classmates. (Bring snacks for some extra excitement!)
My poem craftivities resource is a fun way for students to gain practice with figurative language while also creating an end product that they’re excited about.
Read Books with Examples of Figurative Language
Examples of figurative language can be found in many of the books we read, but some books provide students with an opportunity to interact with figurative language in a fun way. Some of my personal favorites are:
Figurative Language Charades
To play charades, split students into groups. Then, give groups examples of figurative language (ex: Go break a leg!). Have each group take turns acting out a scene that represents their figurative language phrase without talking.
The only thing students are allowed to say is the actual figurative language phrase. Once the skit is finished, students must guess what the literal meaning of each phrase.
Figurative Language Review Worksheets
Ready to assess your students? This figurative language sort is the perfect way to prepare students for test day! This activity pack includes multiple figurative language review worksheets.