As students become more proficient writers, they need to use different types of techniques and writing styles. Hyperbole is a common literary term and figure of speech used in writing to mean exaggeration. In writing it can be used to emphasize a point or to create a lasting impression. Through incorporating tall tales and hands on activities, students will master the art of exaggeration.
Students will be able to write a hyperbole and distinguish hyperbole from other literary terms. After practice, students can use hyperbole effectively in their writing.
Examples of Hyperbole
Ask students what it means to exaggerate. Write down responses on chart paper. Then, ask them to raise their hand when they hear a sentence that utilizes exaggeration.
I waited a long time to be picked up from school.
I waited an eternity to be picked up from school.
Waiting is as boring as a speech.
Explain to students that the second sentence was an exaggeration. Someone can't "wait an eternity." This is an exaggeration. What does waiting for an eternity imply? Students should turn to the person next to them and answer the question. Waiting for an eternity implies that one waited for a long time. This type of statement is called hyperbole.
Reading Tall Tales
Tall Tales are great stories that use hyperbole to create an outrageous story. Likewise, tall tales often stretch the truth. Read students a Pecos Bill tall tale and ask them to write down ideas that seem exaggerated. When finished discuss what exaggerations were in the tall tale. One example is the idea of Pecos Bill lassoing a tornado. While it is impossible to lasso a tornado, this embellishment shows the reader the adventurous spirit of Pecos Bill.
Practice with Hyperboles
Students need to circle the following sentences that use hyperbole.
- I am so hungry I could eat a horse. This is hyperbole. While the person is not going to eat a horse, the statement reveals the person's intense hunger.
- These are the worst pancakes I have ever eaten. This is not hyperbole. The pancakes are actually the worst.
- I like my teacher a lot. This is not hyperbole. It is a realistic statement.
- It's taking you a million years to get ready. This is hyperbole and reveals that the person is taking a very long time to get ready.
Now, give students several more examples of hyperbole. Ask them to find the specific part of the sentence that makes it an exaggeration.
- This is the best pizza in the whole wide world. The phrase "whole wide world" is an exaggeration.
- This suitcase weighs a ton. The word "ton" is what makes this sentence hyperbole.
- The baby's smile was a mile wide. The phrase "mile wide" is an exaggeration.
Making Hyperbole Posters
Students will be given a piece of construction paper and art materials like colored pencils and crayons. At the bottom of the poster, they need to write one hyperbole sentence. The rest of the poster can be used to illustrate the hyperbole. Another option is to fold the paper into fourths so that there are four squares. In each square, there should be a hyperbole sentence and illustration. These look great up on the bulletin board.
After mastering hyperbole, students can move on to writing a tall tale. Have students read more tall tales like Paul Bunyan and John Henry. Next, have them map out their main character and plot outline. Also, have students come up with at least three exaggerations to use in their tall tale. After planning, they can write a one to two page tall tale and add illustrations. This lesson plan for elementary school students will help children define and write hyperboles as well as distinguish between other figures of speech. The posters can be done on more than one occasion and are a good independent activity.