Thursday, March 21, 2013

Literary Devices-Hyperbole, Personification, and Idioms...Oh My!

The end of the school year is sneaking up on us, and if you are like me, I am starting to get really nervous about those... (whispering) state tests! AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

Okay, now that that is out in the open, I wanted to share with you some of the ideas that I have been using with my 60 writing students (grades 4-5-6). Literary devices are so fundamental to our kiddos doing well on the language portions of the test I knew that a HUGE review of what we learned in our poetry unit/year of writing and push on in our preparation of our learning for the year was in order! So, I changed my literacy board to this (well, actually my WIFE was the amazing writer of the posters and charts):

You will notice that a few books are missing from the Mentor Text section. That is because I had to order some new books to fill the spots. I found a great book called, If You Were Onomatopoeia, and a couple of others. It is so much fun to have mentor texts right there at my fingertips ready for any lesson I need. To hang them, all I did was use binder clips and t-pins. Easy-peasy!

About two weeks ago, I started a unit on personification. It was really fun to have the kids think about and discuss giving human emotions to animals and objects. I pulled in lots of resources from professional books to resources I spent time creating. I was impressed with how well my students picked it up. We even learned a new word "anthropomorphism"! Don't know what that means? Look it up- my students can SAY and tell me what it means. Not that they will really NEED that term, but it was fun to teach them a new big word, and they enjoy saying it! The students even wrote a story that had at least three examples of personifications in them. The 4th graders did an amazing job. To help keep it fresh in their minds, every time an examples comes up in a story, a conversation, etc. I point it out to them. :)

Then last week, we worked on Idioms. Oh my word. That was SO MUCH FUN! I had the kids make posters of different idiom phrases and then the students chose three different posters and had to incorporate those idioms into a short story. Bwa ha ha. They were SO creative and fun. Students did NOT take this particular writing through all the steps of the writing process. We stopped at the rough draft. The kids were grateful for a break from full process writing, and I was grateful to have a "quick and dirty" writing project the kids enjoyed. As part of this unit, I made a set of "I Have, Who Has" Idiom cards. What a blast. You can check those out by clicking on the picture below.

This week, we have been studying hyperbole (hi-per-ba-lee). The students have really gotten into exaggerating the truth! We have had contests to see who can come up with the best exaggeration, we have read tall tales, and watched Disney's American Legend DVD clips pausing frequently to discuss all the literary devices that have been used. It has been eye-opening to them just how much the topics we have been learning are used in music, TV, movies, and writing. In fact, this week, students have been bringing in their reading books at recess to show me an example of an idiom, or a funny hyperbole. It's amazing how well they are retaining these topics! I love that the students are starting to realize that there is an overlap in the literary devices used- that a hyperbole can sound an awful lot like a simile. I LOVE it when the light bulbs over their heads click on! 

While I can't guarantee that my kiddos will rock the test, I am very excited that as our testing dates approach (two weeks away), I can say that MY students are learning, retaining, and enjoying these short units of study on literary devices.  How about you? What strategies, activities, or studies of literary devices do YOU use to prepare for those end of year, high-stake tests? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Mr. Hughes


  1. I LOVE personification - we just did it this week and my kids LOVED it! I decorated a backpack with a face, arms, and legs, and then put it on and (with the backpack facing the students) I talked about how hard it was to be a backpack, getting stuffed with all sorts of papers, books, and sharpened pencils (ouch!), and then tossed to and fro throughout the day. The kids ROARED!

    Then they chose an object and wrote from it's perspective using their five senses.

    Next week the are all going to bring in a shoe and write a short story from it's perspective :)

    Joy in the Journey

    1. I LOVE THIS!
      What a fantastic idea. Thanks so much for sharing this and also for stopping by. Have a great weekend. WAHOO!

  2. The lights around your board mesmerize me! If I were in your class, I know I would feel that anything you put on that twinkly board was amazing!

    Thanks for sharing your great ideas with us! I am also in review mode now for the test. We are testing here the second week of April. Good luck to us all! :)

    1. Thanks for your thoughts. I do like my lights as well. I don't turn them on all the time either. Usually when I plan to use something we have on the board I turn them on. The kids know that it means the learning is in the LIGHT! ha ha.

  3. A week or so ago I used your idea (I think it was your idea!) of teaching similes using those Geiko ads, like "Our customers are happier than Paul Revere with a cell phone." The kids LOVED it and got really into using comparisons.

    Well the new Geiko ads on the radio go something like, "If you switch to Geiko, you'll save so much on insurance that your money clip will wish it could shake your hand. But it can't. Because it's a money clip. So it doesn't have hands!" I asked them if they knew which poetic device that was, and some of my smarties knew, "Personification." I told them, "Wow, it seems like advertizers lately are really enjoying using literary devices!" :D I don't know if those play in your area, but look them up on youtube; it's funnier than it comes across in print!

    1. WAHOO!
      Yes, that was my idea to use the ads. I can't wait to look up the new ones that use personification. Thanks for letting me know and I am excited that your kiddos loved the lesson. Have a great day!

  4. What a fantastic idea! Thank you so much for sharing. Do you happen to have a list of the mentor texts you used? Have a great day!


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