Understanding Metaphors

Grade Levels: 4 - 7


In this lesson, students are introduced to using metaphors in writing and daily conversations, and discuss the meanings of various metaphors.


Introduce metaphors and how they enliven ordinary language. Creative writers use metaphors as an efficient and economical way to use words, and also as a way to describe subjects and feelings that are complex. By writing "The sun was a diamond in the sky," the writer suggests that the sun is brilliant, shining, sparkling, and many more things that may take up more lines to describe in detail.

Write the following sentence on the board: "This room is an oven!" Ask the class the question: "Am I saying that this room is actually an oven?" Have students give reasons for their answer and discuss their interpretations as a class. Write possible meanings on the board.

Explain the importance of metaphors in our daily conversations and how authors use metaphors to aid their writing. Write these sentences to model the activity for the class: "The motorcycle was an angry, snarling animal." Explain how the sounds and the movement of a motorcycle can remind us of an angry animal. Call students' attention to the items being compared. Have students mimic with body movements, etc. "Tom was a pig during lunch." Ask the class for the meaning of this metaphor. Call their attention to the two items being compared. Possible answers: He ate every bit of his food. He made funny noises while he ate all of his food.

Guided practice

Use this metaphors worksheet to have students find the meaning of these metaphors. Make a transparency for easier use.


Teacher observations. Assess the completed work or homework to determine if students understand the use of metaphors.

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