top of page


I've returned to teaching ELA after two years of exclusively teaching Math and Science. One of my favorite things to teach in ELA is figurative language. Even though ELA isn't my favorite subject to teach, I love teaching figurative language. Everyone who has had a conversation with me has probably heard me use some sort of figurative language in that conversation. I love a good play with words. It's really how I speak, and it's very common for me to use figurative language without even trying.

One of the things I use to teach figurative language is music. I love music, and my students usually do too. So, of course, I always use music as an opportunity to teach figurative language. I created something I call "Figure It Out." I play a snippet of the song, and my students identify the figurative language. There are many different ways that this can be used, but I typically do it as a quick transition moment. My students LOVE this activity. I usually do this on Fridays or any day during transitions. I pull it up on our Smartboard and play the snippet. I then ask students on cue to hold up the number of what type of figurative language they think it is. I can extend it as much as I see fit. For instance, I usually call on one student to explain what the artist meant with the word. It's a great way to engage students before a lesson, after a lesson, or as a quick review anytime.

After a while, I decided to make an addition to "Figure It Out". The types of figurative language taught in primary grades actually serve the purpose of helping students be able to identify figurative language. That is the main goal of figurative language and its different types – to help students determine the meaning of words and phrases, aiding in the understanding of what they read or hear. So, that is when I started creating the other version of the activity called "Figurative Vs. Literal," where students will listen to a snippet of a song and then determine whether it is Figurative Language or Literal.

Another thing I enjoy is having students find the figurative language in their own favorite songs. It's super important that students understand that figurative language is used all the time to make things more interesting. I want them to recognize that they hear figurative language all the time. I created this sheet for my students to use. As always, I like to connect natural, authentic experiences. This sheet served as a good homework assignment. Meaningful, but something that's easier for students to engage with.

On this sheet, there is the opportunity to listen to and record three songs. If you are a site member, you are able to get this sheet for free. If not, you can click here to purchase from TPT or the store.

3. My third favorite activity I like to use to teach Figurative Language is using language they. often hear in normal conversations. I let students think of common phrases they hear me say, their parents say, etc. They write down. all of those phrases they often hear and then tell what the meaning of each of them are. Due to the fact that these are common phrases they hear often, they also explain how they know the literal meaning of the phrases. For instance, they either tell if they used the situations (context) of how it was used or if they see a connection between the figurative and literal meaning.

Using these activities really helped my students understand Figurative Language better. I will always emphasize the importance of using authentic experiences. Sometime, we will need to help students apply the experiences to the content being taught. Sometimes, they do it on their own. Whichever way they get there, using authentic experiences are vital in helping students truly understand content.


bottom of page