How to Teach Metaphors, Similes & Personification

Written by meredith burgio
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How to Teach Metaphors, Similes & Personification
Metaphors, similes and personification are essential to your students' writing, reading and testing abilities. (books and apple. image by mashe from

Metaphors, similes and personification are building blocks to teaching children about literature. Introduce students to these elements of English through poems, writing assignments and song. Plan lessons that are interactive to keep students attention and improve retention. Make sure your students have a firm grasp on metaphors, similes and personification; this will equip them for writing, reading and testing in the future. A poetry lesson will allow you to cover all three areas in one lesson.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Two prose pieces using metaphors
  • Two poems using similes
  • Two poems using personification

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  1. 1

    Pass out your poems with examples of metaphors. Have a student read the selection out loud. Ask them what stands out to them. Ask them how things are described in the selection using metaphors. Robert Frost "A Road Not Taken" and "The Country of the Blind" by C.S. Lewis are famous examples of metaphors in poetry.

  2. 2

    Select two poems that use strong similes such as "A Dream Preferred" by Langston Hughes or one of Shakespeare's sonnets. Pass out copies of the poems to your students. Read the poems out loud. Ask the students what similes are used and how they compare and contrast the subjects.

  3. 3

    Explain how personification is used in poetry to give human traits (qualities, feelings, action, or characteristics) to nonliving objects (things, colours, qualities, or ideas). Give each student a copy of poetry that uses personification such as "The Train" by Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost's "Birches." Have students identify the personifications and why they were used. Ask them to consider why the author chose to write in this way and how it changes the mood of the piece.

  4. 4

    Assign each student to write a poem using one or more metaphors, similes and personification. Allow them more than one day or night to write the poems, perhaps assigning this project on a Friday to allow them the whole weekend.

  5. 5

    Ask for volunteers to read one of their poems before they are turned in to you.

Tips and warnings

  • Teach the metaphor and simile lesson together. These are two ideas that are easily grasped as a unit.

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