Figurative Language, Part 1

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Students will be able to demonstrate understanding of figurative language by writing Cornell notes and choosing from a set of examples.

Big Idea

Briefly reviewing the common types of figurative language early in the year allows you to constantly review figurative language in throughout the year.


10 minutes

How do authors use direct or indirect characterization to reveal a character's personality? Consider the following quotes from "Zebra":

  • "Are you going to make gloomy drawings, too?" said Andrea. 
  • "Her long red hair was tied behind her head with a dark-blue ribbon.'"


Identify whether the author uses direct or indirect characterization in the above quotes. Use the actual quotes as part of your concrete evidence. Explain how the quotes are examples of direct or indirect characterization as well as  what the quotes reveal about Andrea's characters? 

Daily Grams

10 minutes

Day 37



  • Beginning of the sentence: Yesterday
  • Proper noun: American Red Cross
  • Proper noun: Turkey (in this case, 'Turkey' refers to the country, not the animal)


  • How do you punctuate titles? 
  • Short stories, magazine articles, poems, etc.  are punctuated with quotation marks.
  • Novels, movies, etc. are punctuated with italics or are underlined.


  • Which type of adjective do you use when you are comparing two people?
  • Oliver and Olivia are twins; his hair is (darker/darkest).  Use darker when it is only two people being compared.  Use darkest when there are three or more people being compared.


  • The model brought/brung
  • The chef must have already took/taken
  • Their friends may have went/gone

Sentence Fluency

  •  Students often write write run-on sentences with too many 'ands'.  Take out the ands, and replace it with comma. An appositive is also useful in combining sentences.
  • The speaker has charm and has wit and is intelligent and the speaker is also my uncle.
  • The speaker, my uncle, has charm, wit, and is intelligent.

Figurative Language Notes Introduction

3 minutes

We spent time setting up the notebook for figurative language notes the previous week, so we were ready to start on notes.  There's five million types of figurative language, so we weren't able to learn all the types of figurative language today.

  We learned the definitions for

  • figurative language
  • alliteration
  • allusion
  • connotations
  • cliches
  • denotation
  • hyperbole
  • idioms


We showed students the table of contents and Cornell note template to the students again, because some students were absent and some students haven't realized that we always do Cornel notes when we take notes.  Some students haven't realized that we're longer in first quarter.    This is why I remind them of the same thing, over and over again.

Figurative Language Notes Part 1

30 minutes

Figurative language is all around us.  It's in everything we read, fiction and nonfiction, so it's important to explicitly teach the language to students early in the year.  It's not just a poetry thing, it's a reading thing.


Figurative language includes hyperbole, personification, metaphors, simile, and metaphor.  It's not meant to be taken literally, but we understand what it means. Figurative language is what makes writing come alive.  It's what breathes life into literal words.


In addition to taking the notes, I had a collection of figurative language from Laurence Yep's novel, Dragonwings. My student teacher spent time cutting the strips of examples apart and putting them in plastic baggies.  Each group got a baggie, and after each term, was asked to read through the stripes of examples to find an example of the term we were working on.  Not ever term had an example in Dragonwings, so we skipped that step for some of the words.


We started with alliteration, which isn't non-literal language, but it's under the umbrella of lovely language.  Essentially, alliteration is tongue twisters.  Beginning sounds are repeated to create a certain effect, or mood. A repeated 's' sound can sound sinister and threatening.  A repeated 'b' sound can create a bubbly, joyful mood. A repeated 'f' sound can sound heavy, can force your slow the reading to create a slow, heavy feeling.

  •  Examples from Dragonwings
    • “There was not the slightest surge of surf, and no wind stirred its surface” (Yep 46).

    • “I saw. . .regiment after regiment of strange, silent, scaled soldiers” (Yep 46).

    • “I heard the clink of harness and the rattle of an old wagon trying to follow the ruts in the road” (Yep 289).


An allusion is a reference to a well-known person, place, thing, or event.  You could reference Alice and Wonderland by saying "I fell down the rabbit hole."  You could reference Harry Pottery by saying something about Diagon Alley. 


Connotations are the feelings that are created or suggested by a certain word. It's the shades of meaning that are conveyed by a word.  They can be positive or negative, and sometimes, people have different connotations of the same word. Different cultures have their own connotations for certain words, such as colors. No one's wrong, it's just different.


Denotation are the literal, dictionary definitions of a word. It's the actual definition of a word that is not subject to emotion.


Hyperbole.  Oh, sweet hyperbole.  Oh how I love thee.  I love hyperbole.  I love hyperbole so much that I tell my students that I will fail them all the way back to kindergarten if they don't show that they understand hyperbole, which, of course, is a hyperbole.  Hyperbole are exaggerations, intended to emphasize a certain idea.

  • Examples from Dragonwings
    • “Well, you young fool, are you finally finished making enough racket to tear down the house?” (Yep 121).

    • “We started out yesterday morning just to get here” (Yep 194).

    • “Are you hungry?” “Can’t you hear the rumbling in our stomachs?” “I thought it was another tremor in the earth” (Yep 218).


Idioms are non-literal language that is culture specific.  If you grow up within a culture, you absorb the idioms just by hearing them, but to non-native speakers?  They make absolutely no sense.

  • Examples from Dragonwings
  • Uncle stuck his foot in his mouth.
  • It’s raining cats and dogs.
  • Windrider cut the apron strings and set out on his own.
  • The Tang racked their brains to think up a way to convince the demons to let them stay in Chinatown.
  • Miss Whitlaw went to bat for Windrider and asked his landlord what was wrong.
  • Windrider put his nose to the grindstone to make a plane that would fly.


 And we're done with figurative language. . . not! Come back tomorrow for more figurative language madness!


4 minutes

Choose your own closure adventure!


  • Number your paper from 1-8.  Write a list of the figurative language terms in the order of which words you are most comfortable with using and finding while you read. #1 should be the one you are most comfortable with and #8 is the one you are least comfortable with.
  • Write an example that was not in our notes of an idiom, hyperbole, or alliteration (or which ever one you as the teacher want to focus on or isolate).


Today's lesson picture was created by Wordle.  Thanks, wordle!