5 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT recognize and interpret figurative language in context.

Big Idea

How are idioms used as imagery in writing to express figurative meaning which differs from its literal meaning?

Introduction to Idioms

20 minutes

This unit's purpose is to give students opportunities to understand an author's choices for using literary devices and how those choices add meaning to the text, which falls in line with the underlying idea of the Craft and Structure standards in the Common Core ELA framework.  Because my students encounter complex figurative devices in the higher level texts that they read (many of my students are reading above grade level at this point), I chose literary devices related to reading standard 4 that I deem appropriate for my class of deep, philosophical intellectuals.

I introduce my Figurative Language Flipchart with a focus on Idioms for this lesson. We take opportunity to review the figurative language that we learned so far.  Revisiting concepts learned is essential for students to develop expertise.  Much exposure and practice are needed to fully understand these abstract concepts, especially for second graders.  However, we are building the foundation of future knowledge. 

We discuss the definition of idioms and analyze the example on the flip chart.  I brought a few more examples that we examined such as:

  • Give it a shot - Try
  • Speak your mind - Say what you really feel
  • A piece of cake - Very easy
  • Slipped my mind - I forgot
  • Cross your fingers - For good luck
  • Be in hot water - Be in trouble
  • It cost an arm and a leg - It was expensive
  • It’s in the bag - It’s a certainty

Students indicated that they have heard most of these, but now they finally understood their meaning completely.  They were very enlightened by the revelations.

Practice with Text

15 minutes

I read aloud a several text examples from an Idiom Website to students, asking students to pay attention to examples of idioms and its features.  I projected the examples on my Promethean board as we discussed the figurative meaning of each idiom.

Students need ample practice to identify and analyze idioms in text.  We discuss several poetry samples, such as this Idiom Sample Poetry,  that use idiom to heighten sensory images and the playful tone of the text.  These concrete samples help students understand the context in which idioms are used as well as its intended purpose to create figurative meaning that is far from its intended literal meaning.

Interacting with Idioms

20 minutes

Now, it is students' turn to incorporate idioms in sentences, following a Figurative Language Rubric.  They may research on laptops, books, articles, etc. that are readily available in the classroom.  I also printed lists of idioms for them to choose. 

Students work in cooperative teams following the Cooperative Learning Rubric.  The rubric makes it clear that each member must contribute to the team's efforts.  At the end of this activity, they will conduct a self-assessment of their team contributions and share with the class.

Sharing our Idioms

20 minutes

Students present their final product to the class: Idiom student presentation.  They are rated with the Figurative Language Rubric.  This is a great opportunity to give feedback and make suggestions for improvements as well as give kudos for areas that the team excelled in.  Each team reports on their self-assessment on their ability to work cooperatively, using the cooperation rubric.