Encouraging your students to use similes and metaphors will help them improve their writing ability and produce interesting pieces that others will enjoy reading. It can be difficult for students to create their own similes and metaphors. However, there are activities that teachers can use to help students understand the difference between similes and metaphors and to inspire the use of these literary devices to help bring writing to life.
Other People Are Reading
Introduce your class to similes and metaphors by sharing examples from a variety of texts. Students can see how the use of these devices improves writing and helps readers build a visual image. Read stories, poems, even speeches, anything that includes good examples. Discuss with your class why these similes and metaphors are effective.
Use these examples to point out the difference between a simile and metaphor -- a simile compares something with something else usually by the inclusion of "as" or "like, whereas a metaphor applies a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea to another to draw analogies. "As lonely as a cloud" is a simile; "the ship ploughs the sea" is a metaphor.
This activity works well for younger students and is a good way of introducing similes. Choose a book with a lot of dramatic or imaginative illustrations. Try "The Tunnel" or "Gorilla" by Anthony Browne. Share the book with your class and talk through the pictures. Choose a picture and write the beginning of a sentence on the whiteboard; e.g., "the gorilla is as tall as ... ." Ask your class to supply the last word.
Work through the story, writing a sentence for each picture. Extend this activity by having students work in groups. Give each group a picture book and the beginnings of several sentences. Have them work together to finish the sentences. Bring students back together and share their sentences. Explain that they have written similes. Make a display of their simile sentences with the pictures from the books.
Use stunning, dramatic pictures as an inspiration for the creation of metaphors and similes. Begin by displaying a picture on the whiteboard for everyone to see. Talk about the picture with your class, then work together to think of ways of describing the scene using similes and metaphors. Model this writing of sentences to your class, writing suggestions and changing them as you think of improvements.
Next, have students work in groups. Give each group a dramatic scene and have them work together to create similes and metaphors. Have each group show their ideas to the rest of the class.
Senses Similes and Metaphors
Students often limit their descriptive writing to what they see. Encourage students to think about all five senses when they are writing. Take them outside and have them find a space by themselves where they can be quiet. Have students think about what they can see, hear, taste, see and smell, then make notes. Remind students that the sense of taste is not just connected to food; we can taste snowflakes and raindrops, for example.
When students come back inside, have them write one sentence for each of their five senses based on the notes taken outside. Then they need to write a simile and a metaphor for each descriptive sentence.
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