Teaching…Metaphors and Similes

The Situation

You need strategies to explain metaphors and similes to your students.

The Solution

Language Features are widely accepted techniques or devices that audiences may expect to find in a text of a particular genre. Choices in language features and text structures together define a type of text and shape its meaning.


  • Metaphors
  • Similes
  • Personification 
  • Alliteration
  • Hyperbole
  • Assonance

Let’s focus on metaphors. All metaphors are complex. They require abstract thinking and a little bit of prior knowledge to really get your head around it.


A metaphor is a literary device that (1) suggests a resemblance (2) by comparing two things (objects or ideas) (3) that are not usually considered alike (4) without using the words “like” or “as.” Similes: A figure of speech in which an object compared to another in one particular aspect.

Concept Attainment

When explaining metaphors to students, draw the following on the whiteboard:

Explain that when you write a metaphor a simple metaphor such as Sally is a pig, you are applying the qualities of a pig to Sally. The connective is brings both concepts together. This, we call, a metaphor. A simile on the other hand, uses like to connect to two concepts.

The above diagram helps explain and visual what a metaphor is.


Have students look a the following metaphors. Which ones are metaphors and which are similes?

Life is a rollercoaster.The assignment was a breeze.The classroom was like a zoo.He is a night owl.The stormy ocean was a raging bull.

Once students have recorded their diagram and can identify the difference between metaphors and similes, they are ready to move onto the final activity.

Final Activity

Select one of the following metaphors:

  1. Life is a rollercoaster.
  2. The assignment was a breeze.
  3. He is a night owl.
  4. The stormy ocean was a raging bull.

Set the timer on your iPad for 5 mins. Draw what you see when you read the metaphor.

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