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Teach Primary Students Figurative Language
January 23, 2013
Primary teachers need to build an early understanding of figurative language for the youngest readers and writers. Here are strategies and resources to support your instruction:
ONOMATOPOEIA includes words that mimic sounds. These include animal sounds (roar, moo, grrr), object sounds (boom, crack, tick-tock), and sounds made with hands and feet (clap, snap, stomp).
- After labeling your classroom with nouns, try adding a second set of labels attached to each object. This time include what sound each object makes (e.g., drinking fountain–drip, drip; chair–squeak).
- Using the tune to “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” teach students the lyrics to the Onomatopoeia Song.
With a RUFF-RUFF here
And a BAA-BAA there.
Here a VROOM.
There a BUZZ.
Everywhere a SPLAT! SPLAT!
ALLITERATION occurs when several words repeat the same initial sound. At the primary level, this can include names like Chuck E. Cheese and Mickey Mouse or picture book titles like Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse.
- Read tongue twisters to help children hear alliteration. Check out Smart-Words.org for some great examples.
- Students create alliteration during the Name Game. I’m Sydney, and I like sleepovers. I’m Matt, and I like Mario Kart.
SIMILES are unique comparisons of two different things connected with a “like” or “as.” Common examples include ran like the wind or clean as a whistle.
- Teach comparatives first (e.g., hot, hotter, hottest, etc.). Use a picture book like Things That are Most in the World.
- Read My Dog is as Smelly as Dirty Socks and other titles in Hanoch Piven’s series. Students then write simile books about their own family members. (For those whose primary students all have iPads, utilize the Faces iMake app to create these family “portraits” digitally.)