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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Figurative Language Classroom Exercise

That Rings a Bell! 
This statement is an idiom which means what you heard makes you think of something else.  Using a bell is a good way to exercise your students using figurative language and help them practice making sentences sparkle with life.

I play this classroom game in the style of Family Feud.  After spending a week or so modeling a particular type of figurative language, have a contest to see which student can remember the most figurative expressions related to a literal statement.  It can be played two ways.  For example if you have just finished working on idioms, you can make this statement to two competitors.  "I think I'm going to hit the hay."  Whoever rings the bell and responds correctly first with the answer, "I'm going to bed," is the winner of that point. 
The more challenging way to play is to give a literal expression and ask the students to come up with a figurative way to say the same thing.  The winner is the person or team with the most correct responses. 
A few cautions to be aware of here....  Many students are great 'bell ringers' but have no idea what to correct answer is, so you may want to set a time limit to answer the question.  Also, in some situations, more than one answer may be correct, so you the teacher need to have the final say as to whether a response is acceptable or not.
The issue some have with teaching figurative language is that students have a tendency to go overboard with the use of figurative expressions.  You'll teach onomatopoeia and your students will want to put twenty of them into one composition!  When I notice this happening with my students, I ask them, "Tell me if you're supposed to put cheese on your spaghetti or spaghetti on your cheese." 
Figurative language needs to be used much like that, where it simply adds flavor or spice to the paper. 

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