I created this unit for a group of students who needed extra practice with fluency and a beginner’s understanding of poetry. Each day provided a quick lesson on one characteristic or type of figurative language, multiple readings of a short poem, and practice using the term of the day. The unit was designed to take no more than thirty minutes per lesson and lasted three weeks in my classroom.
Due to copyright issues, I could not include the actual poems used each day. However, because the terms being used are universal, fitting poems shouldn’t be too difficult to find! All of the poems I used came from one of two sources:
- The Big Book of Classroom Poems [Hollenbeck, K (2004). The big book of classroom poems. Scholastic Press: New York, NY.].
I tell students that our figurative language type today is 'metaphor.' I explain that this is another type of comparison that is similar to a simile. However, it does not use the words ‘like’ or ‘as.’ Rather than saying an object is ‘like’ something else, metaphors state that an object is something else. You’ll often find the words ‘is’ or ‘are’ in metaphors, but not always. Today we’ll read just one poem that is full of metaphors. Then you’ll practice writing a few of your own.
I ask students to open their poetry packets to page thirteen. I repeat that our term today is metaphor and explain its definition. Students turn to their partners and do the same – stating the term of the day and telling its definition. I read page thirteen aloud until I come to an example, which we read together.
I point their attention to the poem of the day. I’ve chosen the poem, “Monarch,” and we have a short discussion about butterflies. Students tell me what they know about Monarch butterflies before we read the poem through once together. After the first reading, we spend a few moments talking about the metaphors used in the poem. Several times the Monarch is compared to royalty and we discuss why the author chose to make this comparison. After our discussion, students identify examples of metaphors by underlining and labeling and then recording in their packets. Then partners spend the next few moments reading the poem together. If time, they switch partners at their table and practice with someone new.
When everyone had a chance to read the poem multiple times, I ask them to look at page fourteen. It asks students to complete two tasks. First, they must come up with three of their own metaphors. Then, they choose one and illustrate it twice. The first drawing shows the literal meaning of the metaphor and the second shows the figurative meaning. For example, in the metaphor, “Kimberly is a ray of sunshine,” students could draw the student Kimberly as an actual ray of light coming from the sun. In the second, they could draw what this metaphor is trying to explain about Kimberly – that she is a positive person who brightens the room. Students can choose to work together or independently on the task.
Students share their work with someone in the room they have not worked with yet. They take turns telling their partners the term of the day, their understanding of its definition, and the work they completed during the practice activity.