Monday, March 1, 2010

8 Fun things to do with Idioms

Teaching Idioms? I know I'm preaching to the choir when I say that idioms are more fun than a barrel of monkeys. There is a boatload of idioms at GoEnglish.com. Beyond going over the literal meaning of such phrases as "It's raining cats and dogs!" there are many other out-of-this-world things to try. They are the cat's pajamas, so give them a whirl!

Draw them
The picture on the right shows how much fun this can be. Here are some others that might be fun to draw:
  • Give me a hand
  • Hit the books
  • Keep an eye on you
  • You're pulling my leg
  • Cat's got your tongue
  • Zip your lip
  • Cold turkey
  • Wear your heart on your sleeve
  • In the doghouse
  • When pigs fly
  • Put your foot in your mouth
  • On pins and needles
  • I'll be there with bells on
  • Bite off more than you can chew
  • Toss your cookies
Act them out
This is probably easiest to do in small groups. Assign each group an idiom and have them act it out for the rest of the class to guess. Some that will probably work well include:
  • All in the same boat
  • Barking up the wrong tree
  • Birds of a feather flock together
  • Crying over spilt milk
  • Don't count your chickens before they're hatched
  • It takes two to tango
  • Let the cat out of the bag
  • Out of the frying pan and into the fire
  • Out on a limb
  • Preaching to the choir
  • Rub salt in your wound
  • The straw that broke the camel's back
Use them as writing prompts
A phrase such as, "a fool and his money are soon parted" could inspire a great story. "Every cloud has a silver lining" could inspire an essay on finding something good in an otherwise bad situation.  "In the heat of the moment" could be the theme behind a story about doing something foolish - or perhaps brave.

Use them as discussion starters
"You can't judge a book by it's color" could be the start of a discussion about false first impressions, unfairly judging, or racism. "Rome wasn't built in a day" could start a discussion about persistence. You could have all kinds of interesting discussions around, "The ends justify the means."

Write an idiom story
Challenge your students to write a story using as many idioms as they can. They will probably want to use a lot of dialogue, so this is a great way to practice using quotations properly. It would probably help to have a large list of common idioms available.

Create an idiom challenge
Over a period of days, see how many idioms your class can come up with related to a specific subject.  Students could write them on a large piece of butcher paper on the wall as they come up with them throughout the week. Some ideas are:
  • animal idioms
  • food idioms
  • weather idioms
  • location idioms
  • idioms that mention parts of the body
Go a Little Deeper
Where exactly did the idiom, "to cry wolf" come from? Do your students know the story of The Boy who Cried Wolf? How about "Curiosity killed the cat." Why a cat instead of some other animal? "Raising Cain" must have biblical roots. An idiom could be the start of a great research project!

Create your own
What else, besides cats and dogs could it be raining? Fish and Chips? Lizards and Snakes? Water balloons and Superballs? That's the way the...cookie crumbles, ball bounces, soda bubbles? leaves fall? carrot crunches? It'll cost you...an arm and a leg, a finger and 4 toes? an ear and a bad haircut?

More Idiom Resources
Each of these Idiom Task Cards presents a different idiom and three choices for what that idiom means. Perfect for test prep, ESL students, and Common Core Standards L.4.5 and L.5.5. Available individually or as part of a three set bundle.

Image provided by Fourth Grade Flipper




These task cards require students to demonstrate their understanding of different types of figurative language (including idioms) by writing their own. Great for literacy centers and fast finishers. 



These printables provide definitions and examples of various types of figurative language along with opportunities for practice. They are also aligned with Common Core for grades 3-6.




Picture Credit: SeamlessIntegration

1 comment:

Chayelle klyne said...

thanks those were great ideas!

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