Teaching Metaphors in Writing: Lessons and Materials

Are you teaching an elementary language arts class? If so, keep reading for information on lessons and materials that you may find useful when addressing metaphors in writing.

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How Can I Help Students Learn about Metaphors?

Preparing Your Class to Understand Metaphors

Most children begin learning about metaphors in elementary school. When teaching children, it's important to first draw a distinction between metaphors and similes. While similes use 'like' or 'as' to compare two things, a metaphor simply states that something is another thing. This is usually an important point to make when asking kids to recognize metaphors in texts.

Teaching Metaphors Through Poetry and Prose

Poetry and prose can be rich resources for metaphors. While reading in class, go over any you come across with your class and discuss why they're metaphors. As your students become more comfortable recognizing metaphors, have them point them out to you as a reading game. There are many websites where you can find printable children's poems and prose designed to help kids understand metaphors.

Combining Learning Styles

Teaching metaphors in writing can be fun and simple when you combine different learning styles and modalities. Consider using photos, objects, music or other art forms as part of your lesson on metaphors. Not all students are born to write, so using visual aids and music may allow them to make connections between common metaphors.

Using Classroom Exercises

There are a number of classroom exercises that you can use to teach metaphors. Set up a metaphor workstation with laminated picture or word cards. Have each student pick a card and explain to the class why that card represents them. You can demonstrate this by picking a card to represent the class as a whole. For example, you could pick a card that says 'sunshine' and explain that the class is sunshine because they are so bright.

Any self-reflective exercise that allows students to compare themselves and their classmates to inanimate objects can be helpful. Have each student create a banner that reads, 'I am...' Have your students fill in the blank and bring pictures and an explanation of their chosen metaphor. For instance, a student may create a banner that has a postcard of Hawaii on it reading, 'I am an island.' Under the picture would be an explanation that could read, 'I am an island because I like being alone.'

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