Digging Deeper into Similes

As teachers, we all have favorite topics to teach... and a few topics that aren't quite so enjoyable. For me, teaching figurative language is like sinking my teeth into a cream-filled donut topped with sprinkles. (How's that for a simile?)

Introducing Similes

When I began writing this blog post, my intention was to make it short and sweet (just like my experience eating that donut!), but my love for figurative language enveloped me, and I got sidetracked. I ended up making a 13-slide PowerPoint that introduces the topic of similes to students. After five introduction slides, I included 10 practice slides where students must determine whether the given sentence is a simile, a metaphor, or neither. This is available for FREE in my TpT store. Just click on the image below to download it to use with your students.


A FREE Simile PowerPoint- Teach your students about similes with this 13-slide PowerPoint by Deb Hanson!

Using Similes to Inspire Higher-Level Thinking

The other idea I want to share involves using similes in order to prompt higher-level thinking across other subject areas. I found this idea in the book Total Participation Techniques: Making Every Student an Active Learner by Perside Himmele and William Himmele.

This technique involves teaching students to connect a topic they are studying to something  unrelated by creating a simile. I have found that it works great with vocabulary words.


Renewable resources are like baby teeth in that they can be replaced relatively quickly.
Nonrenewable resources are like adult teeth in that there's a limited supply of them, and they cannot be easily replaced.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected President he gave people hope, like a life preserver thrown out to save the people who were drowning in the seas of the Depression. 

When the President vetoes a bill, it's like a car battery that dies when you're in the middle of traveling to a certain destination. The bill was moving forward, on its way to becoming a law, but it abruptly stopped.

When you introduce this technique to students, you will need to scaffold the procedure. First, you want to provide the simile part of the statement, and then have students explain why the simile might be true. For example, for the first simile, you would say "Renewable resources are like baby teeth. Discuss my simile with a partner and try to explain the connection."  

After modeling the technique several times, you may want to provide a sentence starter, and have students complete it as an exit ticket. An example is: Adaptations are like ____ in that____.

Eventually, after much scaffolding, you will be able to give directions like "Work with your group to come up with a simile for ___."

If you're looking for additional resources for teaching figurative language, feel free to take a look at my Figurative Language Bundle or Figurative Language Tri-folds! Just click on the images below to take a closer look!


This figurative language bundle is full of engaging activities you can use to teach your students about similes, metaphors, alliteration, personification, hyperboles, onomatopoeias, and idioms!

Figurative Language Tri-folds! These engaging tri-folds are ideal to use with small groups of students!


Don't forget to download the free simile PowerPoint! Have a great day!


Pin for future reference:
Simile Activities! This blog post features TWO classroom activities for teaching upper elementary students about similes. First, the FREE PowerPoint can be used either to introduce similes to your students, or as a quick review activity to remind students what they have already learned about similes. The second tip explains how you can teach your students to use similes to inspire higher level thinking across all subject areas! The free simile PowerPoint and matching companion handout are available for immediate use!