Teaching figurative language to upper elementary students can be a fun and engaging way to help them improve their reading and writing skills. Here are a few steps to teaching figurative language to upper elementary students.
Introduce Figurative Language
The first step is to introduce the concept of figurative language. Give examples of different types of figurative language, such as similes, metaphors, and personification. Here is a great bundle to get you started. Be sure to display each poster as you continue to introduce different types of figurative language. Having visuals helps the students reference and distinguish the many different types as they are learning. It gives them something to refer back to as they are reading.
Practice Figurative Language Within the Text
Provide students with a variety of texts that contain figurative language. Great choices are poetry, short stories, and novels. Encourage them to find and identify examples of figurative language in the texts. These figurative language passages are the perfect way to help students understand each type while getting practice identifying key phrases within the text to help them learn. They are short and engaging for older students.
Distinguish Between Literal and Figurative Language
Use graphic organizers, such as Venn diagrams and T-charts to help students compare and contrast literal and figurative language. Work together as a class to come up with both literal and figurative language examples. Students can write these on sticky notes and you can make a class T-chart with their examples.
Get Creative with Writing and Videos
Provide students with opportunities to practice using figurative language in their own writing, such as through creative writing activities or writing prompts. A super fun way is for them to find figurative language in songs they know. Show them this example and see what songs they know and can share that have more figurative language. Get creative and have them make their own videos.
Use games and interactive activities to help students understand and practice figurative language. For example, you can play a “figurative language matching game” where students match examples of figurative language with their corresponding meanings. Here is a great memory game to practice matching figurative language terms.
Continuously evaluate the students' understanding of figurative language. Provide them with feedback and support as needed. Encourage students to use figurative language in their speaking, as well. Ask students to use similes and metaphors in their discussions and video presentations. Remember to give plenty of examples and explanations, and always provide an opportunity for practice and application.
Practice 11 different types of figurative language using these passages.
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For ideas on teaching poetry, see this blog post