Figurative Language Lessons

by - July 23, 2019

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If you are anything like me, then you are beginning to create a plan for the upcoming school year. Though the content never changes, it seems that every year the plan of attack looks a little different. Although our students will be different and have different needs and strengths, there are some things that we already know students are going to struggle with.

For my students, one of these things is figurative language. Because my students are new learners of English, learning figurative language is exceptionally difficult for them. I spend a great deal of time focusing on the foundations for this skill and having students use various activities to practice using figurative language.

I begin my lessons, of course, with some note taking using my Cornell Notes student and teacher pages. Further down this post you will find a link for a FREE download of the Cornell Notes page from my Cornell Notes bundle, so keep reading!

I give my students tons of examples of different kinds of figurative language, and we practice identifying why a simile is a simile, or why a hyperbole is a hyperbole. We also spend a lot of time practicing saying "hyperbole." :)

For this post, I am excited to be teaming up with to bring you a free practice sheet for figurative language. I have many times needed a great activity or homework assignment in a pinch and ended up browsing resources on and I am never disappointed. They have tons of themed worksheets and activities for all subjects.

Crossword puzzles are fun activities to reinforce vocabulary as students are acquiring it in the classroom. This crossword puzzle from provides students with the definition of types of figurative language and they have to fill in the puzzle with the name of the type. This would be a great opportunity for students to use their Cornell Notes to guide them through completion of this activity independently. You might even use this as a homework assignment, or an assignment to leave with a substitute on a day that you were going to be away from class. You could even extend this activity by having students give an example of each type of figurative language on the back of the sheet or in the margins.

If you would like a copy of this activity, links will be provided below!

Another great Figurative Language activity that my students really enjoy is a version of the game Head's Up! For this game, all you need is a stack of index cards.

Have students work in groups of 3-5. On index cards, write the names of the types of figurative language. One type on each card. Shuffle the cards. Having students take turns, whoever's turn it is will draw a card, and without looking at it, they will hold the card against their forehead so that the others in the group can see the card. The other students in the group have to read the type of figurative language and then say examples out loud. The student holding the card has to then guess which type of figurative language is written on the card.

The only rule is that they have to give examples, not define the word. So if the student is holding a card that says "alteration," then the other group members could say "Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers!" but they could not define alliteration. I let my students use their notes when they play this game, but they can only use the examples from their notes ONE time.

Christmas in July

I honestly thought my students might think this was lame, being that they are big, mature 7th graders who don't play kiddie games (lol!), but they loved this game so much and we had so much fun practicing figurative language. They got a lot out of it, and it wasn't flashy or fancy at all. Below you can see some pictures of my students playing this game and using their Cornell Notes as a guide! I created this by printing and laminating the cards... but I'm a masochist and also a crazy perfectionist, it's not necessary to do that in order for this game to be effective! :)

[student faces redacted to protect their privacy!]

Before students can begin to analyze figurative language in a text and explain how that language contributes to the overall meaning of the text, or explain why the author chose to use that language, they have to first understand how to identify figurative language. This skill is often more difficult than teaching analysis, so I spend a lot of time focusing on this.

I use a lot of poetry, which I find mostly on or in song lyrics. Last year I used "Always Remember Us This Way" from the movie A Star is Born, and that song has tons of figurative language in it. After reading and annotating the figurative language, we discussed why she chose to use those specific ones, what they meant, and how they give deeper meaning to the song. You can use any song for this!

Now - on to those freebies!! Click the links below to retrieve the freebie activities, and I would like to give a special thank you for giving my readers such a cool resource for free! Figurative language is key to understanding more advanced writing, and your students will love testing their figurative language knowledge in this fun crossword. For more language arts resources, visit

Click Here to download the Student Page Crossword Puzzle

Click Here to download the Teacher Answer Key

Click Here to download the Figurative Language Cornell Notes Page

What other Figurative Language activities do you use in your classroom? Sound off in the comments!

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