Overview: Free language arts and idioms lesson plan. What do you picture when you hear an idiom? Young readers practice figurative language skills by drawing both the figurative and literal meanings of common idioms.
Subject: ELA: Language, Reading Literature
Grades: 3rd, 4th, and 5th
Duration: 1 hour
Related Concepts: Figurative Language, Poetic Devices, Reading Literature, Literary Analysis
Students will be able to:
- Define the term idiom and provide examples of common idioms.
- Differentiate between the figurative and actual definitions of idioms with a worksheet and student illustration.
Essential Questions: How can I show the differences between the literal and figurative meanings of idioms?
Vocabulary: figurative language, literal language, idiom, figure of speech
Common Core Standards Addressed:
- ELA: Language
- L.3.5, 3.5a
- L.4.5, 4.5b
- L.5.5, 5.5b
- Projection system
Write a common idiom on the board (e.g. when pigs fly, mad as a wet hen, raining cats and dogs, etc). Have learners write a few sentences about what they think the idiom means.
By a show of hands, see how many students listed the figurative meaning of the idiom versus the literal meaning. Write both meanings on the board under the idiom and explain that both answers are technically correct, but that idioms are often used to make a point using its figurative meaning.
List one or two additional idioms for learners to discuss with partners. What are the literal/figurative meanings? Which meaning would an author likely use in a story?
Pass out a handout with a list of idioms. Model how to illustrate both the literal and figurative definitions of a chosen expression.
Students choose an idiom from the list and write it on the top of their paper. They draw a line in the middle of their paper. On one side, students draw the figurative meaning of the expression, and on the other side they draw the literal meaning of the expression.
Toward the end of class, students share their drawings with the rest of the class. Display the finished drawings around the classroom.
- Walk around while students are working on their drawings to make sure they understand the assignment and are following directions.
- Assess each student's drawing to ensure that he/she understands both the figurative and literal meanings of the illustrated idiom.
Provide a variety of additional examples of idioms for English learners since they cannot be literally translated. Assist students with choosing an idiom to draw.
Encourage English learners to think about idiomatic expressions in their native language to draw connections between what they know and are learning.
Instead of doing two drawings (a figurative and actual meaning of an idiom), advanced students can choose to write a short story on half of their paper describing the figurative scenario (such as a story about a person walking through a city while it is literally raining cats and dogs) and just draw the actual meaning (heavy rain)."
If students have physical challenges that inhibit drawing, they can work with a partner to describe what they would draw.
Assign a worksheet called "Idioms" with additional examples of idioms and their meanings.
Have learners make up their own idioms or metaphors to describe life in the 21st century (e.g. "I'm as tired as an iPhone battery on 1%")