Teaching Figurative Language: Effective Strategies
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. Teach figurative language through literature
  2. Use visual aids to explain figurative language
  3. Practice figurative language with interactive games
  4. Encourage students to use figurative language in writing
  5. Create a figurative language wall display
  6. Organize a figurative language book club
  7. Use music and song lyrics to teach figurative language

If you're looking for ways to bring your classroom to life, look no further! Figurative language can be a game-changer in literature teaching. Not only does it give a colorful twist to words, but it also deepens understanding and enjoyment of texts. So, how do you go about teaching figurative language? Well, we've got some effective strategies you might like.

Teach Figurative Language Through Literature

One of the best ways to teach figurative language in literature teaching is, you guessed it, through literature! Here's how:

  • Literature Selection: Choose books that are rich in figurative language. Examples can include classics like "To Kill a Mockingbird" or contemporary reads like "The Hunger Games". This gives students a chance to see figurative language in action.
  • Direct Instruction: Don't rely on students to stumble upon figurative language. Point it out, explain what it is, and discuss how it adds richness to the text. This clear instruction can help students grasp the concept better.
  • Guided Practice: Once you've taught the concept, let students practice identifying figurative language in a piece of text. This could be a chapter from the book you're currently reading in class. Support them as they try to find examples, and discuss their findings.
  • Independent Practice: After guided practice, let students identify figurative language on their own. This could be as homework or a class assignment. Ask them to find examples in a book they're reading or even in a newspaper article.
  • Reflection: After the practice sessions, have a conversation with your students. Ask them how they felt about the activity, what they found challenging, and how they plan to use figurative language in their own writing.

Remember, the goal is not just to teach figurative language, but to instill a love for it. By incorporating it into literature teaching, you're showing students how figurative language can bring words to life—making reading more enjoyable and writing more expressive.

Use Visual Aids to Explain Figurative Language

Who said learning has to be boring? Visual aids can be a fun and effective way to teach figurative language in literature. The beauty of visual aids is that they can help make abstract concepts more concrete—perfect for teaching figurative language. Here's how you can use visual aids:

  • Illustrated Flashcards: Create flashcards with figurative language terms on one side and a matching illustration on the other. For instance, if you're teaching the term "simile", you could have an illustration of two objects being compared. Students can use these flashcards for self-study or group revision.
  • Posters: Design posters with examples of figurative language from literature. Make sure to include the term, an example, and a matching illustration. Display these posters around your classroom to serve as constant reminders for your students.
  • Comic Strips: Comic strips can be a fun way to illustrate figurative language. You can draw your own or use existing ones. The key is to choose comic strips that include examples of the figurative language you're teaching.
  • Interactive Whiteboard Activities: If you have access to an interactive whiteboard, use it to create engaging activities. For example, you can prepare a drag-and-drop activity where students match figurative language terms with their definitions or examples.

Remember, visual aids are just that—tools to aid understanding. They should complement your instruction, not replace it. The goal is to make learning figurative language in literature teaching a little less abstract and a lot more fun!

Practice Figurative Language with Interactive Games

Games can be an engaging way to practice new skills, and figurative language in literature teaching is no exception. By incorporating interactive games into your teaching, you can encourage students to apply what they've learned in a fun and relaxed setting. Here are some game ideas:

  • Figurative Language Bingo: Prepare a bingo card for each student with different figurative language terms. Call out definitions or examples and have students mark the corresponding term on their card. The first one to get a line of correctly marked terms is the winner!
  • Metaphor Mixer: Write a list of objects on the board. Students must come up with a creative metaphor involving two of the objects. The weirder, the better—this game is sure to bring out some laughs!
  • Simile Charades: Similar to traditional charades, but with a twist. Students must act out a simile and their classmates have to guess it. This game helps students understand how similes can paint vivid pictures in their minds.
  • Idiom Pictionary: Write down common idioms on slips of paper and let your students draw them. The rest of the class will try to guess the idiom based on the drawing. This is a great activity to illustrate how idiomatic expressions can't be taken literally.

Games like these not only make learning fun, but also encourage students to think creatively about figurative language. So, why not give them a try? Who knows, you might end up having as much fun as your students!

Encourage Students to Use Figurative Language in Writing

Practicing figurative language in literature teaching doesn't stop at recognizing it — students should also learn how to use it in their own writing. By using figurative language, students can add depth and creativity to their writing, making their stories more engaging and interesting.

Here are some strategies you can use to encourage your students to use figurative language in their own writing:

  • Modeling: Show examples of figurative language in literature and discuss how it enhances the text. Then, write your own sentences using figurative language and explain your thought process as you do so.
  • Guided Practice: Start with a mundane sentence and ask your students to rewrite it using figurative language. For example, the sentence "The sun is shining." could be rewritten as "The sun is a golden orb, casting its radiant glow over the earth."
  • Independent Writing Assignments: Assign your students writing tasks that require them to use specific types of figurative language. For instance, they could write a poem using only metaphors, or a short story where they have to use a simile in every paragraph.
  • Peer Review: After your students have finished their writing assignments, let them swap papers and look for instances of figurative language in their peer's work. This not only gives them more exposure to different uses of figurative language, but also helps them learn to critique and appreciate each other's work.

Remember, the goal isn't to use figurative language for the sake of it, but to enhance the reader's experience. So, encourage your students to use figurative language sparingly and thoughtfully. After all, the best writing is like a well-cooked meal — too many spices can overwhelm the palate.

Create a Figurative Language Wall Display

Visual learners, rejoice! One of the fun and interactive ways to dive into the world of figurative language in literature teaching is to create a figurative language wall display. This is a great way to keep figurative language concepts fresh in your students' minds and also serves as a quick reference point during writing tasks.

Here’s how you can get started:

  • Divide and Label: Divide your wall display into sections for different types of figurative language, like metaphors, similes, personification, and hyperbole. Label each section clearly.
  • Examples: Fill each section with examples of that particular figurative language from books you are reading in class. For instance, under the section for metaphors, you might write, "Time is a thief."
  • Student Contributions: Encourage your students to add to the wall display by finding their own examples of figurative language in their reading or coming up with their own original sentences.
  • Decorate: Make your wall display colorful and engaging. Use images that represent the concepts, or let your students illustrate the examples themselves.

A figurative language wall display not only reinforces the lessons about figurative language in literature teaching but also adds a splash of color and creativity to your classroom. Plus, your students will love seeing their own work and contributions showcased on the wall. It's a win-win!

Organize a Figurative Language Book Club

Books—what better way to dive deep into the world of figurative language? Organizing a figurative language book club is a fantastic way to get students engaged and excited about learning. This approach gives a whole new context to the concept of figurative language in literature teaching, making it more relatable and fun.

Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Select a Book: Choose a book that is rich in figurative language. Books like "Harry Potter", "The Chronicles of Narnia", or "Alice in Wonderland" are great choices. They are not only entertaining, but they also provide numerous examples of figurative language which you can discuss.
  2. Set a Schedule: Plan a schedule for the book club. It could be once a week or bi-weekly. Stick to the schedule to keep the momentum going.
  3. Discuss Figurative Language: During each meeting, discuss the instances of figurative language you've encountered in the assigned reading. Encourage students to share their finds too.
  4. Encourage Participation: Make sure every student gets a chance to speak. This fosters an inclusive environment and helps boost their confidence.

Remember, the goal of the book club is not just reading, but recognizing and understanding the use of figurative language in literature. This can be a fun and effective way to deepen students' understanding and appreciation of language arts. Who knows, you might just inspire the next J.K. Rowling or C.S. Lewis in your class!

Use Music and Song Lyrics to Teach Figurative Language

Another exciting, engaging way to teach figurative language is by using music and song lyrics. Many songs, from pop to rock to country, are filled with examples of figurative language. This makes music an excellent resource for teaching figurative language in literature.

Here's a simple way to incorporate music into your lessons:

  1. Choose a Song: Pick a song that has clear examples of figurative language. It could be a popular song your students probably know. For instance, Taylor Swift's songs are often rich in metaphors and similes.
  2. Analyze the Lyrics: Print the lyrics and distribute them to the students. Discuss the lyrics line by line, identifying instances of figurative language and explaining their meanings.
  3. Create a Figurative Language Playlist: Encourage students to find other songs that use figurative language and create a class playlist. This not only reinforces the concept but also allows for some fun in the classroom!

By using music, you're not only teaching figurative language in literature but also showing students how it is used in everyday life. This approach can help students understand and appreciate the beauty and power of figurative language. And who knows, they might start seeing their favorite songs in a whole new light!

If you're looking for more ways to effectively teach figurative language, we recommend exploring Daisie's classes for additional resources and strategies. Our platform features a diverse range of workshops and classes designed to help educators and students alike enhance their skills and understanding of various topics.