Tall Tales are full of Figurative Language! For this reason, teaching them together makes a lot of sense. The kids enjoy identifying various examples of Figurative Language they find in the Tall Tales, but before we begin, I review some of those main types. In the Big Idea, I wrote: "Figurative Language as clear as mud? Let's make it as plain as the nose on your face." This is the perfect introduction to the kids as I tell them we're about to talk about the figurative language within our Tall Tales. I ask them to give the literal meaning for what those sentences are saying. Before the answer is given, however, a few kids shout out, "Those are similes!" Affirmations all around...What do they mean literally? This is a lovely lead-in to our next part.
To begin, we come up with an example of each of the following: Simile (we've just had two examples), Metaphor, Personification, Hyperbole, and Onomatopoeia. The kids have been learning about some of these since third grade, but all need to be reinforced. After this, I show the kids one of the best videos I'm come across for reviewing Figurative Language. They'll enjoy, remember, and ask to see it more than once!
There is a companion worksheet, "Figure Out That Tune!" as a follow up to the video. They can do this for a review later in the day.
It's hard to follow that catchy video, but hopefully the kids are primed and ready to go!
Each child should take one of the Tall Tales picture books borrowed from the library or brought from home, for this next activity. If you don't have enough available, pick out stories with a lot of figurative language and make copies, or check your basal reading book to see if there's a section on Tall Tales.
The students read through their chosen picture book and simultaneously list the types of figurative language they find. Labeled: Simile/Metaphor/Personification/Hyperbole/Onomatopoeia. First they share in groups, then explain the figurative language examples on the Smart Board whole class.
The next step is to determine the meaning of these words and phrases as they're used in the Tall Tales and write them next to each example.
What's great about this lesson is that it's pretty simple. They're often given assignments and activities that are far more laborious, and this one, although beneficial, is rather easy and certainly fun. The kids thoroughly enjoy searching for as many examples of figurative language as they can find to fill up their worksheet. I was pleasantly surprised as some of the kids actually went "off the page" and started creating their own figurative language examples due to happenings in the class. The example I give in my video reflection is a good one: A student said that his "desk hurt him" when he hurt himself after banging into it. Next time around, I'll add a component to the worksheet that allows for extra figurative language examples they haven't found in the tall tales books, so they feel free to add.
As a fun and very simple way to check the kids' understanding of the lesson, I label areas around the classroom with the different types of figurative language. For example, I put the SIMILE sign on the door Simile- they got it right!; METAPHOR on cabinetsMetaphor!; HYPERBOLE on white or smartboard Location of Hyperbole; PERSONIFICATION on cubbies; ONOMATOPOEIA on windows. The kids stand at their desks to begin, and as I read off examples they go to the correct sign. With so many kids, it's challenging to have them all running off to corners of the room amid the desks, etc. so I would categorize the students who would answer the "figurative language challenge" by birthdays, or last year's classroom teacher, or all the boys/girls, etc. Anything to keep the number of kids going to signs down to half the class or less.
It's my hope that the kids make their own decisions, but realize that some will follow the crowd. Even so, with enough examples, some students may gain an understanding that they didn't before. A way to combat this is to give personal challenges. Pull about five sticks at a time, and bring those kids to the front of the room while the others remain seated. They will be less apt to follow a few other kids, which will lead to making their own decisions. Repeat the exercise. If there isn't a lot of time at the end of the lesson to give all of the smaller groups a chance, leave the signs up and use as a fun "odd time" filler throughout the day.