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Reading Lesson: Figurative Language
Grade Level: 5
Lesson Summary: The teacher will pre-assess students by having them fill in the blanks for common
examples of simile, metaphor, and personification. The teacher will lead a discussion with students about
how they knew what to put in the blanks. Students will work with the teacher to fill in definitions and
examples on a graphic organizer about similes, metaphors, and personification. Then, students will play a
game in teams in which they have to identify which type of figurative language a sentence is. After the
game, students will work independently to identify and analyze different examples of figurative language.
Advanced learners will read a story that includes examples of personification, similes, and metaphors.
They will work in partners to color-code the story identifying each of the different types of figurative
language in different colors. Then, students will write individual stories that include one example each of
personification, simile, and metaphor. Struggling learners will use a graphic organizer to help them write
examples of similes and metaphors, comparing a chosen subject they are familiar with to other objects or
living things. Students will then look at a list of examples of personification. The teacher will show them a
drawing of the literal meaning of one of those sentences. S/he will then lead a discussion with students
about the object being personified in the example sentence, the human quality the object has been given,
and the figurative meaning of the sentence. Students will then create their own Personification Poster
using one of the personification sentences on the list of examples.
Lesson Understandings:
The students will know…
 The definitions of simile, metaphor, and personification.
 How to identify examples of similes, metaphors, and personification.
The students will be able to…
 Define simile, metaphor, and personification.
 Identify examples of similes, metaphors, and personification.
Learning Styles Targeted:
Visual
Auditory
Kinesthetic/Tactile
Pre-Assessment: Give each student an individual student whiteboard, dry-erase marker, and tissue. Tell
students that they are going to learn about three different types of figurative language in class. You are
going to read three incomplete examples of these types of figurative language to them, and they will
complete them by choosing a word to fill in the blank. Use a document camera to project the first
sentence from the Pre-assessment Sentences* for students to see. Read it aloud. Have students think of a
word that would make sense in the blank, and have them write it on their whiteboards. At your
instruction, have students hold up their whiteboards to reveal their answers. Choose a couple of students
who wrote reasonable responses, such as cheetah, jaguar, lion, and have them explain how they knew
what to put in the blank to make sense of the sentence. After discussing the reasonable answers, choose
one and write it in the blank on the Pre-assessment Sentences page. Students will need to refer back to
the completed Pre-assessment Sentences later in the lesson. Now project the second sentence, and read it
aloud. Have students write down a word that would complete the sentence. Have students hold up their
answers. Many students should respond with “bee” as their answer because it is a familiar phrase. Ask
them how they knew which word to put in the blank. Record “bee” in the blank for the second sentence.
Read aloud the third sentence, and have students choose a word to fill in the blank. Have students hold up
their answers. Students should respond with “blinked,” “moved,” or something similar. Choose a couple of
students who wrote reasonable answers, and have them explain how they knew what to put in the blank
to make sense of the sentence. Record “blinked” in the blank for the third sentence.
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Whole-Class Instruction
Materials Needed: 1 copy of the Graphic Organizer* per student, 1 copy of the Graphic Organizer* to
project, a document camera, 1 highlighter per student, 1 set of pre-cut Wipe Out! Questions*, a bucket or
baggie for Wipe Out! cards, 1 copy of the Independent Practice* per student, chart paper, index cards
Procedure:
1) Tell students that the 3 sentences from the warm-up activity were examples of figurative language.
Write the term on the board so students can see. Tell students that writers use figurative language
to make their writing more interesting, colorful, and easier to picture. Refer back to sentence one
from the pre-assessment. Tell students that the writer could have easily written, “I run fast.” By
comparing a person’s running to a fast animal’s running, the sentence became more interesting
and easier to picture. Tell students that today they will learn what kinds of figurative language each
of the three sentences from the warm-up were.
2) Give each student a copy of the graphic organizer. Tell students that the first type of figurative
language they will learn about is called a simile. Have students practice saying the word aloud.
Project a copy of the Graphic Organizer, and define simile as “an expression that compares two
things using the word ‘like’ or ‘as.’” Have students record the definition on their graphic organizers.
Project again the three sentences from the pre-assessment. Tell students to read through the three
sentences and find one that compares two things using the word “like” or “as.” Elicit responses
until a student says sentence 1 is the simile example. Have students write this sentence as one of
the examples on the graphic organizer. Ask students what 2 things are being compared (a person’s
running and a cheetah’s/jaguar’s/lion’s running). Have students highlight these words. Ask
students how they knew it was the simile example. Elicit responses, leading students to see that
the word “as” was used to compare the two things. Have students circle the word “as.” Tell
students that the same sentence could also be written using the word “like” by saying, “I run fast
like a cheetah/jaguar/lion.”
3) Ask students if they can think of any other examples of similes. Students should be able to do this
on their own, but if they are struggling, give them a sentence starter, such as “I’m quiet as a
_____” or “The boy cried like a _______.” Encourage students to think of examples that use the
word “as” and examples that use the word “like.” Have students record 2-3 in the examples section
of their graphic organizer. Each time students should highlight the two objects being compared and
circle the comparing word, “like” or “as.”
4) Tell students that now they are going to learn about metaphors, which are similar to similes but
have an important difference. Tell students that metaphors also compare two things like a simile
does. However, metaphors do not use the words “like” or “as.” Write the definition for students as
“an expression that compares two things without using ‘like’ or ‘as’” Students should record the
definition as well. Project again the remaining two sentences from the pre-assessment. Ask
students to look for a sentence in which two things are being compared without the use of “like” or
“as.” Elicit responses. If students mistakenly identify sentence 3 as the metaphor, lead them to see
that the sentence does not state two things that are being compared. Sentence 2 is the example
metaphor. Record sentence 2 as an example of a metaphor, and have students record it as well.
After students have finished writing, ask them who the sentence is mostly about. Elicit responses,
leading students to see that the sentence is about “I.” Then ask them who “I” is being compared
to. Elicit responses, leading students to see that the subject, “I,” is being compared to a bee. Model
for students how to highlight the two objects that are being compared in the sentence. Students
should highlight the words as well.
5) Metaphors are more difficult for students to generate, so give them a few more examples to write
on their graphic organizer. Write the following two examples on the graphic organizer: “My
memory is a little cloudy.” and “Ask me anything because I am an open book.” Have students copy
down these examples on their graphic organizer. After students have finished writing, ask them
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what two things have been compared in the first sentence, “My memory is a little cloudy.” Elicit
responses, and have students highlight “memory” and “cloud” or “cloudy.” Discuss the figurative
meaning of this sentence with students. Repeat the same procedure for the other sentence, having
students highlight “I” and “open book” and then discussing the figurative meaning of the sentence.
6) Tell students that the last example of figurative language they will learn about today is called
personification. Point out to students that the word “person” has been capitalized on their graphic
organizer because it’s an important part of the definition. Model for students how to record the
definition, “when an object is given human qualities.” Students should record it as well. Refer back
to the third sentence from the pre-assessment, “The cursor blinked on the computer screen.” Write
that as one of the sentences in the “examples” section of the graphic organizer and tell students to
do the same. Tell students that in this sentence an object, a cursor, is being given human qualities.
A cursor does not have the ability to blink. Ask students to imagine what it would look like if a
cursor had eyes and truly had the ability to blink. Visualizing this will help students understand the
meaning of personification. Ask students what the sentence is supposed to mean. Accept
reasonable responses and record something like, “The cursor turned off and on,” on the graphic
organizer for “what it really means.” Students should do so as well. Give students another example
to write down. “My stomach growled.” Ask students to visualize the literal meaning. Ask students
what the sentence is intended to mean and record something similar to, “Noises were coming from
my stomach.” Give students a third example to write down: “The flag waved in the wind.” Ask
students to visualize the literal meaning. Ask students what the sentence is intended to mean and
record something similar to, “It was moving back and forth.”
7) Put students into teams of 4-5 students. Tell students they will practice identifying figurative
language in a game called Wipe Out! Each team should come up with an answering order, as in
which member will answer first, second, etc. Tell students that when it is their team’s turn, the
person whose turn it is to answer will choose a Wipe Out! card from a bucket. The teacher will
project that card using a document camera for all students to see. The student who chose the card
has to decide if the sentence is an example of a simile, metaphor, or personification without getting
feedback from teammates. If the student answers correctly, s/he gets to keep the card for his/her
table. If the student answers incorrectly, the sentence passes to the answerer from the next team
in line. If that student answers correctly, s/he keeps that card for his/her table. If s/he answers
incorrectly, the card is returned to the bucket and may be played again. If a student draws a Wipe
Out! card, then the team has to relinquish any cards earned up to that point. Those cards return to
the bucket for play. Play continues until the teacher says time is up. The team with the most cards
when play ends wins the game.
8) After the game is over, give each student a copy of the independent practice. Read aloud the
directions to students, and allow them to work independently. You may choose to allow students to
use their graphic organizers to help them answer the questions.
9) As a closure activity or as an ongoing review, you can set up a continuing independent project in
which students find examples of personification, metaphors, and similes in texts they are reading
outside of class. Create 3 separate pieces of chart paper entitled “Personification in Text,”
“Metaphors in Text,” and “Similes in Text.” When a student has found an example, s/he should
check with the teacher to make sure it is correct, then write the example on an index card with the
title of the text included and paste it onto the appropriate piece of chart paper.
Advanced Learner
Materials Needed: 1 copy of the Example Story* to project, a document camera, 1 copy of the Example
Story* per pair of students, 1 piece of notebook paper per student, 3 different colored pencils per student
Procedure:
1) Gather advanced learners together, and project a copy of the Example Story for students to see.
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Read aloud the story to students. Tell students that the story includes all three examples of
figurative language that they learned about in class. Put students into pairs and give each pair its
own copy of the story and 3 different colored pencils. Have students make a key that assigns each
type of figurative language to a separate color. For example, if a pair has a green pencil, a purple
pencil, and an orange pencil, they might assign green to mean metaphor, purple to mean simile,
and orange to mean personification. They should include this key at the bottom of the story. Have
students reread the story in pairs and use the appropriate colored pencils to mark each time they
read an example of personification, metaphor, or simile.
2) After students have read and coded the text, ask students for all the examples of personification
that they found in the story. Use one color to mark the correct examples given on the projected
copy of the story. Repeat the process for the examples of similes and metaphors, marking each
type with a different color.
3) Give each individual student a piece of notebook paper and tell them they will be writing their own
story that includes the different types of figurative language they learned about. Tell students that
their stories do not have to be true. Fiction is acceptable. Tell students that their stories should
include at least one example of a simile, one example of a metaphor, and one example of
personification. Extra examples are acceptable.
4) Allow students to work independently. Monitor students as they are writing to make sure that the
examples they are using are correct and sensible. When each student has finished, s/he should use
3 different colored pencils to create a key similar to the one made with a partner earlier and code
his/her stories for simile, metaphor, and personification. You may allow students to share their
stories when they are finished.
Struggling Learner
Materials Needed: 1 copy of the Simile and Metaphor Generator* per student, 1 copy of the Simile and
Metaphor Generator* to project, a document camera, 1 copy of the Personification Sentences List* per
student, 1 copy of Blank Personification Poster* per student, drawing supplies, 1 copy of the Example
Personification Poster* to project
Procedure:
1) Gather struggling learners together, and give each student a copy of the Simile and Metaphor
Generator. Project a copy of it under a document camera. Tell students that this graphic organizer
is going to help them write 2 similes and 2 metaphors about themselves or someone close to them.
Tell students to think about people or pets that they know very well. They should choose
themselves or someone close to them to write about. Have students write “I” or the name of the
person/pet they are writing about in the middle bubble. See the example generator written about a
pet dog. You can make your own example or choose to use the one provided. Write the subject of
the similes/metaphors in the middle bubble of the projected copy of the generator.
2) Tell students that they will be comparing the subject written in the middle bubble to four different
things. Similes and metaphors are comparing sentences, so they will be writing similes and
metaphors to compare the subject to other things. Ask students why the simile side of the
generator includes the words “like” and “as.” Elicit responses, leading students to see that both
similes and metaphors compare two things, but similes use the word “like” or “as.”
3) Model for students how to use the generator by telling students that the subject of your generator,
Casey, is a pet dog. Tell them you are going to write a simile about Casey, comparing him to a
hibernating bear. Show them how to write “hibernating bear” in the extension bubble on the simile
side of the generator. Tell students that because you are writing a simile, you have to choose “like”
or “as” to include in your sentence. Circle “as” in between the two bubbles. On a simile sentence
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line at the bottom of the page, model for students how to compare Casey to a hibernating bear by
writing a simile with the word “as.” Write, “Casey is as sleepy as a hibernating bear in the
morning.”
4) Tell students that you are also going to write a simile about Casey, comparing him to a wrestler
using the word “like.” Circle “like” and write “professional wrestler” in the extension bubble. On the
remaining simile sentence line at the bottom of the page, model for students how to compare
Casey to a professional wrestler by writing a simile with the word “like.” Write, “Casey looks like a
professional wrestler when he plays with his friends at the dog park.”
5) At this time, have students write two similes comparing their chosen subject to two different
things. Remind students to choose a comparing word for their similes by circling “like” or “as.”
After students have written their sentences, allow each person to share a favorite one aloud.
6) Now tell students you are going to write two metaphors comparing the subject to two other things,
but this time the words “like” and “as” will not be used because metaphors don’t include those
words. Tell students that you are going to write a metaphor about Casey, comparing him to a spy.
Write “spy” in the extension bubble on the metaphor side of the generator. On a metaphor
sentence line at the bottom of the page, model for students how to compare Casey to a spy by
writing a metaphor that says, “Casey is a secret spy creeping around trees and bushes looking for
squirrels.” Repeat the same process for the other metaphor comparing Casey to a mule, writing,
“Casey is a stubborn mule when he doesn’t want to do something.”
7) Review with students the meaning of personification. Give each student a copy of the
Personification Sentences List. Tell students that they will be creating a poster about one of the
sentences from the list. Tell them that you chose the first sentence, “The moon guided me through
the forest.” Ask students to imagine what it would look like for a moon to actually guide someone
through a forest. Elicit responses from students. Accept plausible answers, even if they are silly.
Tell students that you have a picture that shows what it would actually look like. Show them just
the picture from the Example Personification Poster under a document camera. Use another piece
of paper to cover the bottom portion of the page. Point out that the moon has a face and is talking
to the boy. Ask students what object is being personified, or which object is being given human
qualities. Elicit responses until a student says, “the moon.” Uncover the “What object is being
personified” question on the example poster. Now ask students, “What human quality does it
have?” Elicit responses until a student says something like, “It’s guiding the boy through the
forest.” Uncover the “What human quality does it have” question on the poster. Tell students that
the sentence isn’t intended to mean that the moon can talk and give the boy directions. Ask
students what the sentence is intended to mean. Elicit responses until a student answers with
something like, “The light from the moon made it easier for the boy to see.” Uncover the last
portion of the example poster.
8) Give each student a copy of the Blank Personification Poster. Tell students that they should choose
one sentence from the Personification Sentences List, illustrate its literal meaning, write the
sentence underneath the drawing, and then answer the questions about that sentence. Tell
students that they cannot choose the example that you did. Allow students to work independently.
Encourage them to be as detailed as possible in their illustrations. When students finish, you can
have them share their illustrations and explanations of the examples of personification.
*see supplemental resources
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