Sunday, February 21, 2016

Fun Activities to Teach Idioms

I always look forward to teaching figurative language in my classroom, and idioms in particular. Students get such a kick (note the idiom here) talking about and learning new idioms and we really enjoy doing some fun activities to help kids build a stronger language base.

Here are seven different activities that reinforce idioms and have worked well in my classroom:
1. Draw Idioms (their literal and figurative meanings)
I like to put a list on the smart board or you could also give kids a list of idioms. After having students discuss these in pairs or small groups, we meet as a class to go over any idioms that they don't yet know. I pass out paper and kids choose an idiom, draw the literal meaning on one side (what it sounds like it means) and the figurative meaning on the other side (what it really means).
2. Do Charades with Small Groups
I give each small group of kids an idiom to act out in front of the class, while the class tries to guess the idiom shown. This is lots of fun and most kids enjoy the chance to ham it up in front of their friends.

3. Use Idioms as part of a Class Discussion
This is great for those spare five minutes for transition times, right before recess or in between two big activities. I like to have a set of idioms on cards or you could do slips of paper. Then I pull out one of these randomly and we discuss it as a class. For example, we might discuss the idiom, "Don't judge a book by its cover." Is this true all of the time? Are there times when we should judge someone or something by the way it looks? If so, when? I really enjoy getting the kids so involved in discussions like this and it is amazing how passionate and how insightful kids can be at such a young age. Plus, while we're discussing, they're adding to their idiom repertoire!

4. Match Idioms with Their Meanings
After you have quickly made a set of idioms on one set of cards and their meanings on another set of cards, shuffle these and hand them out. Students can find their idioms match and then share out. You can also use this as an introductory activity if you'd like an easy way to randomly match pairs.

Another idea is to use these cards in a center or as a fast finisher activity, as a game of concentration.

5. Read Mentor Texts with Idioms
One of the teaching tools I use repeatedly in my classroom is mentor texts. No matter what the subject, these wonderful picture books can bring lessons to life and idioms are no different. Using a mentor text to introduce or to reinforce idioms is an activity your students will enjoy and is one they will remember. Here are a few books that I like to use:

6. Play Idiom Games Online
A quick Google search will help you find lots of interactive idiom games that your students will enjoy playing. Here are two that I think are particularly good:

7. Use Task Cards
Task cards work so well for so many concepts. They are great for teaching idioms too! You can use them at a center, for one on one practice (perfect for ELL kids), as a partner or small group activity, as a whole class lesson or a game of Scoot.

If you'd like a free set of 32 School Idiom Task Cards, click here to grab them at my TpT store.

Here are two more items you may be interested in:

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