Figurative Language Posters and Teaching Ideas – Also, a TPT sale!

Figurative Language Bulletin Board set

Figurative Language

Types of figurative language are taught in our 3rd grade ELA curriculum and I always feel that I need something more to add to it. Each of these literary devices is so interesting and you can do so much to enhance your lessons with mentor texts, video clips, etc. So, I’m finally getting it all organized. I’ll be better prepared to teach it enthusiastically this year! I’ve created some resources to go with these lessons so I might mention those throughout this post and you can click on any of the pictures for a link to the resources.

One reason figurative language is so interesting is because we can find it everywhere! It’s in picture books, chapter books, poetry, comics, cartoons, animated films, songs, advertising, and more. We’re surrounded by examples!

1. Alliteration

This is such a fun one to teach at the beginning of the year There are some great books. It’s excellent for building fluency (tongue twisters!) and vocabulary. Anything that encourages them to read more and is FUN is a huge win.

Mentor Texts
Some mentor texts with examples of alliteration are:
*The Absolutely Awful Alphabet by Mordicai Gerstein
*Four Famishes Foxes and Fosdyke by Pamela Duncan Edawards
*Some Smug Slug by Pamela Duncan Edwards
*A My Name is ALICE by Jane Bayer Princess
*The Worrywarts by Pamela Duncan Edwards
*Pigtoria and the Pea by Pamela Duncan Edwards
*Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel
*Bootsie Barker Bites by Barbara Botner
*Woodpecker Wants a Waffle by Steve Breen (there is a link to this one in my TPT resource)
*Poems by Shel Silverstein or Jack Prelutsky

Tongue Twisters
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, how many pickled peppers did Peter Piper pick? It’s funny how tongue twisters stick in our minds. I can still remember playing a little beginning song on the piano that used the lyrics to “how much wood could a woodchuck chuck…” You can google tongue twisters to find a bunch of examples. Project them on the board and say them together. Underline the repetitive beginning letters.

I love this idea by Think Grow Giggle to write your own tongue twisters. It’s currently a freebie in her TPT store!

There are even books of tongue twisters! I like the National Geographic Just Joking books because they have jokes, riddles, and tongue twisters. Those books are a big hit with 3rd graders.

2. Personification

It’s easy to find examples of personification! It’s in most animated movies – think about Cars, Sing, Ferdinand, etc. It’s in cartoons. It’s even in commercials! I have a few clips with some of animal spokesperson commercials (it’s in my Figurative Language pack). Geico has a few popular ones – their gecko spokesperson, and there is the camel walking through the office talking about hump day.

Of course, there are many picture books where animals have human traits. It’s a common theme! Your library is probably full of them. An easy activity is to set the students on a little treasure hunt looking for examples of personification in your books – they are are sure to find them!

Students can create a comic strip using personification with an animal character. Remind them of the many examples that they know – Winnie the Pooh, Garfield, Mickey Mouse, Charlotte’s Web, etc. Be prepared to model the lesson for them by drawing your own comic strip. This is also a great time to teach about writing dialogue. 

Mentor Texts
*The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
*Hello, Harvest Moon by Ralph Fletcher
*The Little Red Pen by Janet Stevens & Susan Crummel
*If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff
*The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss

Figurative Language QR Cards
4 Cards for each one! There are QR codes that link to stories, songs, and explanation videos!

3. Hyperbole

Kids love to exaggerate so this is also a fun one to explore! There are plenty of examples in advertising and commercials to help with this one. Tall Tales are also a good companion piece to learning about hyperbole. 

Mentor Texts
*Heat Wave by Helen Ketteman
*Steamboat Annie by Catherine Wright
*Library Lil by Suzanne Williams
*The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians by Elizabeth Kennedy

4. Metaphors & Similes

Metaphors compare 2 items that don’t seem to be alike at all, but you can find at least one area where they are alike. You can start a lesson on metaphors and similes by bringing in a bunch (2+ for each student) of objects from home. You’ll need 2 to demonstrate – – let’s say a blanket and a lunch bag. Work with the students to write a list of descriptive words and phrases for the blanket and then for the lunch bag. They don’t have much of anything in common, but the blanket wraps around you while you’re resting and the lunch bag protects your sandwich (blankets it). I could write – “I can hardly wait until lunch time! I finally have the lunch that I wanted. My mom bought Nutella! My Nutella & grape jelly sandwich is now safely resting in the paper blanket of my lunch bag.” Now, have students choose 2 objects and write a simile or metaphor.
Here’s an idea with using items found in nature for inspiration for writing metaphors. 

This Ted Talk would be good for older students. It’s a little slow, but I liked seeing some of the metaphors illustrated.


Mentor Texts
*You’re Toast and Other Metaphors We Adore by Nancy Loewen  (this one is in the TPT pack)
*Skin Like Milk, Hair of Silk by Brian P. Cleary
*My School’s a Zoo! by Stu Smith

*My Best Friend is as Sharp as a Pencil by Hanoch Piven
*Crazy Like a Fox: a Simile Story by Loreen Leedy
*My Dog is as Smelly as Dirty Socks by Hanoch Piven (this one is in the TPT pack)
*Quick as a Cricket by Audrey Wood

*Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
Figurative Language QR Code Cards

5. Idioms

Idioms lend themselves to illustrations. Kids can’t resist drawing something so absolutely ridiculous. You can create a class book with each student writing an idiom and drawing a picture of what it would be literally. They can then talk to a partner about what it might mean and once they figure it out, they will write the actual meaning on the page. 

Here are a few collections of idioms to get you started:

Mentor Texts
*Birds of a Feather: A Book of Idioms and Silly Pictures by Vanita Oelschlager
*My Teacher Likes to Say by Denise Brennan-Nelson
*Raining Cats & Dogs by Will Moses
*Stubborn as a Mule and Other Silly Similes by Nancy Loewen
*In a Pickle: and Other Funny Idioms by Marvin Terban

6. Onomatopoeia

Comic strips are one place that we see examples of Onomatopoeia. There is a good lesson on Read Write Think about having students use onomatopoeia in writing a comic. This is something that a wide range of grade levels would enjoy. You can make it a digital activity by using the Comic Creator at Read Write Think, Book Creator app or another app that allows you to create comics. 

Mentor Texts

*A Mouthful of Onomatopoeia by Bette Blaisdell
*Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee
*Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
*The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams
*In the Tall, Tall Grass by Denise Fleming
*Noisy Night by Mac Barnett
*Miss Spider’s New Car by David Kirk

Whew! That was a lot of typing. My fingers are worn to the bone. (I couldn’t resist throwing in some figurative language.) 

My figurative language bundle on Teachers Pay Teachers includes a set of 7 posters with a definition and an example sentence. I really like the watercolor clipart that I found to decorate them. So pretty! There are also a set of 4 cards for each of these literary devices. The cards include the definition (same as the poster, but small) and 3 QR codes that link to a mentor text being read, video clips that illustrate, a song to teach about that device, and a short video that teaches more about it. These will be great for literacy centers or to give struggling students more practice. I’m excited to use them! I’m also going to incorporate more mentor texts and use some of the ideas in this post. I think that will give us plenty to work on!

Teachers Pay Teachers is having their back to school sale! Yay! I totally use this sale to get stocked up for the year. Everything at Teacher Treasure Hunter is on sale. Don’t forget to enter code: BTSFRESH to get additional savings from TPT. 

I’m sad that summer is coming to an end, but excited to teach a whole new group of 3rd graders! Happy back-to-school season to you!