Figurative Language Lesson Plans: Identifying Figurative Language in Poetry

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It was my first year teaching and Mrs. Gotohek sat in the back of the room writing my teacher evaluation. Things were going well until Loni Burgerflip in the front row asked a question. “Mr. Troubled,” she asked, “These are great figurative language lesson plans and I kind of like identifying figurative language in poetry, but when will I ever use this?”

I could have said that identifying figurative language in poetry increases enjoyment, reading comprehension, and enables students to develop critical thinking skills. Instead, my stomach churned and I threw up on the overhead projector. Mrs. Gotohek fired me on the spot and my Identifying Figurative Language Lesson Plans have remained dormant ever since.

Until now.

Identifying Figurative Language in Poetry

Students must be familiar with the following terms:

  1. Figurative language: a technique poets (and others) use to create strong imagery. Figurative language conveys meaning beyond the literal meaning of the words.
  2. Simile: a type of figurative language in which two seemingly unlike things are compared using like or as.
  3. Metaphor: a type of figurative language that directly compares two unlike objects.
  4. Personification: a type of figurative language in which animals, inanimate objects, or ideas are given human qualities.
    • The wind howled its disapproval as we opened the front door.
  5. Synecdoche: a part of something substituted for the whole.

Figurative Language Lesson Plan Procedures

  1. Copy the above information.
  2. Read a poem with figurative language.
  3. Make a chart:
    • The chart should contain 5 columns, labeled at the top with the following words: Figurative Language Example, Simile, Metaphor, Personification, Synecdoche.
    • The chart should contain 5-10 rows.
    • Write down specific examples of figurative language with line numbers in the left hand column. Put a check mark in the appropriate column to identify what type of figurative language is employed.
  4. After the chart is filled in, help students visualize the examples by making Venn diagrams, comparing the two objects in the examples.
  5. Write a paragraph, essay, or a few sentences explaining the effect of figurative language on the poem as a whole. Be sure to use specific examples from the poem as evidence.
  6. Write a poem with at least 5 examples of figurative language.

This post is part of the series: Teaching Poetic Devices

Teaching poetic devices enhances poetic enjoyment, improves critical thinking ability, and makes you sound really smart.

  1. Teacher Tips for Explaining Sound Devices in Poetry
  2. Teacher Tips for Sonnets
  3. Figurative Language Lesson Plan
  4. Poetry Lesson Plans: Speed Poetry Analysis
  5. Teaching Walt Whitman: Summary and Lesson Ideas