What is an Idiom?

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SWBAT identify idioms in literature and learn the meanings of commonly used idioms.

Big Idea

We are introducing students to the exiting world of idioms in this lesson.


Lesson Opener

15 minutes

What is an idiom?  We will discuss today the differences and similarities between idioms, similes and metaphors.  We have learned about similes and metaphors in previous lessons. However, they still do not have a firm grasp on the concept so this will hopefully help remind them.  

The main points I will bring out:

Idioms:  Phrases where the literal  meanings don't make much sense.  These phrases have other meanings, much different than the literal meanings.  For example:  I'm in the doghouse.  This does not mean that I am literally in a doghouse.  The phrase has come to mean that if you are in the doghouse, you are in trouble.

Similes: Similes compare to things using the words like or as.  For example: He is as sly a fox.  Or the clouds floated like cotton balls in the sky.

Metaphor: A metaphor is a comparison where something is compared to something else by stating that it IS that thing. For example:  You are a star!  Or this book is a time machine.


After our discussion, we will read "Even More Parts" by Tedd Arnold.  We will discuss each idiom as we go, talking about what they mean.

Arnold, T. (2004) Even More Parts. New York, NY : Scholastic Inc.

Idiom Game

20 minutes

I have created a matching game that has a variety of idioms.  Some of the idioms I chose have more of a Halloween theme to them because this is the time of year that I teach idioms.  This game can be used any time of year though.  

To make the game, I printed out 4 copies of each card, cut them out, glued them on card-stock to make them sturdier, and then laminated them so that I can reuse them year after year. 

Before playing the game, I will go through each of the picture cards and we will discuss the meaning of each of the idioms.  We then will go through the definition cards and the students will try guess which idiom it fit with. 

Now the students are ready for the game.  This is a memory game that we will be playing with the kids today. (Tomorrow we will use these same cards for a different game.)

I divide the students up into 4 groups.  They mix up the cars and turn them all face down.  Then, the students take turns turning over two cards, trying to make o match of the idiom picture card with its definition card.  The student with the most matches at the end of the game wins.

Lesson Closer

10 minutes

After our matching game, I will gather the student on the carpet and we will brainstorm additional idioms that students have heard and what they mean.  I hope to clear up any misconceptions as to what an idiom is.  I will also keep track of the idioms that the students come up with for a future project.