Two poetic techniques which students generally seem quite comfortable in identifying are similes and metaphors (if they aren’t I’ve created a short starter video to help them which can be found here). The next and more difficult step is supporting them beyond a cursory understanding.

Here are three ideas to help your students engage with these techniques in more depth:


1. The simile game


  • Give your students three slips of paper each.
  • Ask them to write a random noun on each piece of paper.
  • Collect up all of their slips in a bowl / hat etc.
  • Pull out two slips and have a class discussion about the ways in which these nouns could be similar – the more imaginative the better!
  • Ask students to work in pairs and pull out two nouns from the hat then write a list of the ways in which they are similar.
  • Ask the students to share their ideas with the class, then complete a reflection about why this game may be relevant to their understanding of similes.


2. As a flipped learning activity or homework, you could ask your students to find examples of similes and / or metaphors in their favourite songs then bring their examples in to discuss with a partner. I’ve done this before and the response was brilliant. I think applying the techniques to their everyday lives works a treat and it resulted in some really rich discussion.


I played “Titanuim” by David Guetta and “Firework” by Katy Perry to introduce this idea. I was smugly thinking they were quite recent songs but I was reliably informed these are “ancient” so you may want to find some more up to date examples! Thank goodness I didn’t use my first choice of The Beatles.


3. If you haven’t used TED-Ed as part of your lessons yet, please do so! I can’t recommend them highly enough. They have a video, a “think” section and a “dig deeper” section. You can also create your own lesson based around the talks. They are quite simply a brilliant resource.


Jane Hirshfield has done a video about the art of the metaphor which will most definitely help your students go beyond mere identification and into understanding. Here’s the link:


I hope you find these ideas useful. Have fun!


Teaching beyond recognition: Similes and metaphors

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