Go Figure with Figurative Language - It Helps with Predicting!

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SWBAT predict events in the story using story structure; SWBAT use figurative language, digital tools, and illustrations to write a story.

Big Idea

Figurative language and illustrations carry SO MUCH MEANING - let's take a look at how they help students predict!


  • Sound Effects App for Ipad (free app)
  • Ipad for each group (or individual if possible)
  • My Daddy Snores by Nancy Rothstein
  • White paper and colored pencils/crayons for each group
  • Set up the whiteboard
  • Onomatopeia prompts (I cut these apart and mounted them for multiple uses)
  • Lesson vocabulary words from the Reading/Writing word wall: onomatopoeia, predict, simile, beginning, middle, end, figurative language, literature


This book had GREAT examples of onomatopoeia and the story was perfect for predicting. I chose this app because it had appropriate sounds (some of the apps had really inappropriate choices, including guns) and it was easy to use.

This is one of the last lessons in my unit on predicting. I have used several of the strategies for reading comprehension, story structure, and figurative language in the other lessons. Here are links to those lessons for your reference: Peek Inside and Predict (Lesson 1 of 2)Peek Inside and Predict (Lesson 2 of 2)Predict the Ending - It Goes Around and AroundPredict the Ending and Use the Characters' VoicesMaking Shadows with Foreshadowing While We PredictPredict Using Characters' Action and Rhythm, and Tie it Together with Transition Words.

Get Excited!

5 minutes

Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wall. I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics.  The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary.  My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words.


Explain the task

  • "Today we are going to do some listening and imagining! Sounds and images attach meaning to certain events for us. They help us to imagine how something looks and what we might hear.  Authors use sounds and images to bring meaning to stories.  These sounds and images are called figurative language." (put up the word)
  • "Listen to my short story and try to put an image in your head as I play the sounds. I have a beginning, middle and end to the story." (The kids will make a short story later so mention how the story has these parts.)
  • "The beginning is...I walked up the house that looked like a giant scary face and" play doorbell sound.  "The middle of my story is...Then I saw a big black dog in the window as big as an elephant and heard "play bark sound.  
  • "The end of my story is...The door creaked open and there was man who looked like a skeleton and I heard" play insane laugh "and ran away as fast as I could."  
  • "Did the images that I said and the sounds help you imagine the story?" 


As students read and listen to stories, the Common Core State Standards encourage them to analyze the structure of the text and how the parts relate to each other. Realizing that the overall structure contributes to meaning, the beginning introduces the story and the ending concludes the action will help them visualize that the parts of the story relate to and make up the whole. (RL.2.5)

Teachers' Turn

15 minutes

My goal in this part is to have students identify figurative language and make a prediction at the end, based on the clues from the text. 

Introduce the concepts  

  • "The book we'll read today has lots of figurative language. The author adds sounds, called onomatopoeia, to give meaning to the story." 
  • "The author also uses similes in this story. These are phrases that compare one image to a another image using the word 'like' or 'as' to compare."
    • 'the dog was like an elephant' and 'the man was like a skeleton'
  • "The story has 3 parts that we'll look at for figurative language. The beginning introduces the action, the middle shows the problem, and the ending has the conclusion that solves the problem." Reference the chart on the whiteboard.


Modeling and Guided Practice

  • "Let's make a list of the figurative language in the beginning and middle of the story.Read the story using expression and emphasizing the similes and onomatopoeias and add ideas on the chart.  Here's our completed Beginning/Middle/End chart that we created together.
  • Pause after the page that says, On Sunday night...' 
  • "We're at the end of the story. What clues have we seen at the beginning and middle so far that help us predict? What can we add that we know? Did anything that we read help us predict?"
  • I'll make a prediction.  I'll write it up on the board and we can verify or check to see if it’s right."  Take ideas and then read and verify.
  • "Was there more figurative language at the end of this book? Why does the author use this? Does it make it easier to understand the story?" Prompt with the idea that the author purposefully uses this figurative language to add tone and meaning to the story. Plus, it's more fun to read.


As we discuss this figurative language, students are learning to describe how words and phrases supply meaning and in a story. (RL.2.4) They are interpreting words and phrases as they are used in a text and analyzing how specific word choices shape meaning or tone. I am carefully constructing situations to allow students to identify how an author uses the figurative language and allow them to use in in their own story. This has been a new focus for me as we transition to the Common Core State Standards toward student discovery and practice in situations and lessons created by the teacher to allow for more student led facilitation of the learning process versus dissemination of the information by the teacher.

Students' Take a Turn

10 minutes

My goal in this part of the lesson is for students to use the figurative language they have learned to write their own story.

Demonstrate the project 

  • "Let me show you how we can use an app that has onomatopoeia to create a story with a good beginning, middle and end."
  • "I'll fold the paper into 3 sections vertically to show the three parts of the story."
  • I'll take a look at the onomatopoeia choices on the app and pick three that would make a good story. Write a simile at the bottom of each page to tell the story." 
  • "Then I'll sketch an idea in each part - a beginning, middle, and end. The story has to MAKE SENSE."
  • "Now I'll read my similes that make the story and then play the onomatopoeia on the app. 
  • Here's a video my lesson demonstration and my sample project.


Writing pieces with an emphasis on story structure and element familiarity (W.2.3) is a focus in the Common Core State Standards. Students should be able to demonstrate literary knowledge to weave that structure into grade level work demonstrating an understanding of reading and writing knowledge.


Students make the project (put in groups if you are sharing iPads)

  • "Now its your turn to create a story in a group.  Let's think about the group rules that we had at the beginning of the year and the Ipad Rules.docx ."  
  • "Take a look at the sounds on the app and choose 3 sounds that your group would like to use.  Brainstorm how you could create a beginning, middle and end to a story. "
  • "You have 10 minutes. Be ready to share your story when we're done."
  • This is what one of my group's stories looked like.

Show What You've Learned

10 minutes

Explain the task 

  • "Now let's share the our stories.  Use the sound app to show your onomatopoeias and make sure to use expression when you read your figurative language."
  • Here's one example of a student reading her story.


Students created these audio recordings of stories and added drawings to share ideas, thoughts and feelings. (SL.2.5) Using the iPads helps me make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to help students express information and enhance understanding of their presentation.  Then kids LOVE using these digital tools, but we need to incorporate the activities as part of a larger learning experience. It takes some planning and practice, but digital tools, which will be an integral part of our students' lives, can be educational and fun.



  • "You guys did a great job today using figurative language to write a great story!"
  • Ask some questions are you reflect as a class and use their answers as formative assessment.
    • "What did you like about creating a story?"
    • "What was easy and what was difficult?" Several students commented the it was hard to have a story make sense without putting in lots of details.
    • "Did the app give you ideas about onomatopoeia?"
  • "When you read books in the future, is it helpful for the author to add this figurative language?  Why?"   A few students really honed in and shared that the figurative language adds meaning to the story. I followed up with the idea that it adds tone as well.


Scaffolding and Special Education:  The lesson could be used for students with more or less language ability. 

Make sure to mix groups with students of varying abilities.  Since the students are working together, they should be able to compensate for each other weaknesses and strengths.  Some students are more creative, some students draw well, some students are skilled in writing so using mixed groups allows for students to share their talents.

Extra resources

If you want to focus on more onomatopoeia, here's a cute video that has lots of great examples. I didn't have time to show it, but next time, I'll use it at the end for a fun reward for all of their hard work!