Groups of students move from station to station as they learn about and create similes. They learn how they can use similes to improve their writing.
--- KWL chart
--- chart paper
--- "Snowy Similes" booklet, one per student. You might preassemble the booklet, especially if you teach younger students. The following resources might be adapted for use in the booklets:
--- KWL chart
You might start off this lesson by introducing to students a KWL chart. Students might create individual charts, or you might create a class chart. Record what students
Introduce similes to students by writing the word boy on a chart, black/whiteboard, or overhead transparency. Ask, If I asked you to write a paragraph that describes a boy in detail, what kinds of details might you include in your descriptions? Students might say they would describe the boys physical characteristics (such as his height, the color of his eyes) or they might describe the way he acts (worried, happy-go-lucky). Give students time to share some other things they might describe about the boy as you list them for the class to see. If they state things such as how big he is you might start to elicit more detail by providing a question such as How big is he? Fill in this blank: The boy is as big as a ____.)
Next, write this sentence on a board or chart:
The boy is as _____ as _____.Explain that sometimes a good writer might describe the boy by writing a simile about him. For example, students might have heard expressions such as
Those are similes. Similes compare the boy to something(s) else with which the reader might be familiar. That something else is often something very unlike the thing being described. For example, you might not ordinarily compare a boy to a house or a boys eyes to chocolate. But similes can help paint a more vivid picture than simply saying The boy is quiet. Similes can be used to make writing more descriptive and interesting.
Give students some time to think of one of their own similes to describe a boy. They might do this as a class, or they might do it on their own and then share their similes during a sharing time.
Arrange students into groups or three or four. Post a sheet of chart paper at various stations around the classroom -- one sheet per group. On each sheet of chart paper, provide a statement the students can use to create similes. Some of the sample simile statements below include more information that others; some already include an adjective. But all the similes below include the as _____ as _____ format.
Assign each group to a station. Give students a few minutes to brainstorm similes that complete the statement on the chart at that station. Encourage students to be creative, funny, sad Have students in the group decide on the best simile they could brainstorm. A member of the group should write that simile under the statement on the chart paper.
Then rotate students so each group moves to the next station. Repeat the activity. The group must come up with their best simile for that statement and record it on the chart paper; it should be different from the one written by the previous group of students.
Continue rotating the groups until each group has added a new simile to each chart.
Check for Understanding
Take time to share the results. Talk about some of the best similes. Ask students if they believe using similes in their writing might make their writing more interesting. After doing this exercise, most will agree that similes are a good tool for writing descriptively, vividly. You might point out that many similes contain the words as _____ as _____.
If you teach older students, you might mention that some similes take another format. The word like is often a sign of a simile when it is used to compare two unlike things. For example:
Provide each student with a "Snowy Similes" booklet or have students create individual "Snowy Similes" booklets. (See a more detailed description in the Materials Needed section above.) Vary the number of pages in the booklet according to the age of the students you teach. Challenge students to write a different simile on each page of their booklets. If you teach older students, challenge them to come up with unique similes instead of the obvious ones. If you teach young students, you might provide some statements as sample prompts. For example:
If you teach older students, you might include some similes that employ the word like. For example:
Students might create and decorate a cover their booklets.
As students are working on their Snowy Similes booklets, wander around the room assessing their knowledge of similes. Some students might still need a little help grasping the concept.
When students have completed their booklets, let them arrange themselves into their original groups so they can share their "Snowy Similes" with one another.
Close the lesson by completing the KWL chart and filling out the L (What We Learned) section of it.
Cindy Behnke, Gateway Pointe Elementary School in Higley, Arizona
Copyright © 2007 Education World
Here’s a prompt I got from Discovering the Writer Within: 40 Days to More Imaginative Writing by Bruce Ballenger and Barry Lane. It won’t generate a poem or a whole piece like my synesthesia exercise, but it will produce a clever line or two for an essay. I don’t make a big distinction between similes and metaphors in this exercise, though I think they have different emotional impacts. (Metaphors, without the inter-mediation of the word “like” are more immediate, atmospheric and magical, hence better for stories of that nature. Similes are better for essays, but work fine in stories, too.)
Step 1: Put a line down the center of your page and fold in half.Then write down a random list of abstract concepts. Then flip the page over and write down an equally random list of concrete things that you can see, taste, touch, hear or feel (try not write things that relate easily to the first list). Like so:
Bitter cucumber tip
Step 2: Next, fill in the blanks of this sentence below using one word from the abstract side and one word from the concrete side.
____(abstract noun)_________ is (like)____(concrete noun)__________.
When you do this, don’t pick things that match — pick something that seems oddly mismatched or is truly random. This is important, because metaphors have more power when they take big leaps. If the leap is too small, there’s no snap. If the leap is too big, it’s called a conceit (which is a no-no for some — but I’m not a big nay-sayer).
Step 3: Now write a sentence that helps to explain.
- Love is like cayenne pepper. A little bit goes a long way.
Here’s one a student wrote years ago:
- Love is like going to the moon. It takes a long time to get there, but when you do, the earth looks very different.
Give it a try and have fun.