Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Comparatively Speaking

Sharon West


Students learn to identify and use the literary terms simile and metaphor. Their knowledge will be reinforced as they are engaged in creating and illustrating two examples of each.


The student understands similes, symbols, and idiomatic language.

The student identifies and uses literary terminology appropriate to third grade or higher level (including theme, simile, alliteration, metaphor).


- White art paper (9 x 12)
-Black board or marker board and chalk or markers
-Model of completed art project
-Copy of the Rubric For Evaluating Art Project (see Associated File)
-Copy of List of Items To Describe By Comparison (see Associated File)
-Copy of Sample of Metaphors and Similes For T-Chart (see Associated File)
-SOUNDS OF MYSTERY by Bill Martin Jr. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc. 1967 page 335 (or Poem To Introduce Lesson from Associated File)


1. Download the associated file.
2. Enlarge, copy and cut slips of Samples of Metaphors and Similes for T-Chart that need to be taped around the classroom.
3. Make copies of the List of Items to Describe by Comparison for each student.
4. Collect the art supplies needed.
5. Make a model of the art project the children will do. Sample for teacher model follows:
Similes: A diamond is like a piece of sparkling glass.
She danced as lightly as a feather in the wind.
Metaphors: The icicle was a sharp dagger.
The moon is a huge round ball.
On the top window draw a picture of a diamond and write beneath it , A diamond is like: Lift that window and draw a picture of a piece of glass and write beneath it, A piece of sparkling glass. Be sure it is on the left side of the art paper under the correct label. Continue with the other three examples.
6. Tape the slips that have been cut for the T-Chart around the classroom in various obvious locations. (Be prepared to address studentís curiosity if the slips have to be up before you are ready for the lesson.)
7. Draw a T-Chart on the board. (Omit the title labels)


1. Read poem -Comparisons- found in SOUNDS OF MYSTERY or in Associated File. About half way through the poem pause a moment before reading the noun that finishes the comparisons. This will engage the students' imaginations as they begin to think of possible words to complete the phrases.
2. Tell class that good authors often use literary devices to make their writing more interesting and meaningful. When they want to describe a person or thing, they can compare them to other people or things. Tell them that at the end of the lesson they will get a chance to write and illustrate some comparisons.
3. Do the following activity: Choose students to take turns removing slips of paper that are taped around the classroom. As they read the slips, you will tape them to the T-Chart on the blackboard. Donít label the chart yet, but place the metaphors on one side and the similes on the other.
4. When all the slips have been placed, ask the students if they can discover why you have separated them the way you have. They should note that one group always uses either the word like or as and the other does not.
5. Write the titles Metaphors and Similes at the top of the appropriate groups on the T-chart.
6. Let the class help you compose a definition for each. *Metaphor: a comparison of one thing or idea to another that is not normally related and says that one item is another. *Simile: a figure of speech using the words like or as to compare one object or idea with another to suggest that they are alike.
7. Write the following phases on the board leaving room to write underneath each: smooth pudding, flat hat, and stubborn child.
8. Show the students how to describe the first two phrases using similes and metaphors. Examples:
The pudding was as smooth as silk. The pudding was like silk. The pudding was silk.
The hat was as flat as a pancake. The hat was like a flat pancake. The hat was a pancake.
9. Let the class help compose comparisons for the remaining phrase. Possible example:
The child was as stubborn as a mule. The child was like a mule. The child was a mule.
10. Show the model of the art project that the students will be making. Explain that on the left side they will create and illustrate two similes. On the right side they will create and illustrate two metaphors. Explain the rubric to them. Tell them that they must make a rough draft of the comparisons before they will be ready to transfer it to art paper. They will receive a list with some ideas like the examples the class did on the board after they have the art paper ready.
11. Pass out the art paper and show them how to prepare it. (Demonstrate how to fold as you explain it.) Fold the paper in half lengthwise. Fold it twice more to make eight equal sections and open the paper up all the way. Cut along the fourth line folds (three cuts) but stop so that only one half of the paper is cut. If the folding and cutting is done correctly, each child will have a piece of paper that has four windows that can be lifted. Place the folded line at the top.
12. Students are now ready to create comparions and illustrations to match.They will write and illustrate the first half of the comparisons on the top window and then lift the window to write and illustrate the second half. Placing the similes and the metaphors on the correct sides of the art project is essential to the assessment so instruct the students to write labels on the art paper now. At the top over the two left windows spread out the word simile and at the top across the two right windows spread out the word metaphor.
13. Pass out the List of Items to Describe by Comparison to each child. Tell them that will choose four items from this list (or ones they think of themselves) to write two metaphors and two similes. Remind them of the rubric. They will be assessed on the descriptive quality of the similes and metaphors and well as placing them under the correct label.
14. Let the students begin writing. Walk around to observe the progress. If some students are still having difficulty, use samples from the list that they have not already chosen to do alone and collaborate with them in making more examples.
15. Collect papers that are finished. If some students are not done with the art part, let them finish during free time later.


Use folded art projects to formatively assess the studentís ability to:
-interpret the difference in meaning between simile and metaphor
-effectively compare two items
The rubric in the associated file includes the criteria for successful performance.


This lesson covers only two types of literary terminology and could be extended to include others.
The suggestions that follow continue to address metaphors and similes only:
1. Use books and stories that are rich in examples of similes and metaphors. Students go a scavenger hunt to find as many of them as they can. (Prepare in advance so that you will have a page number that has already located most of them.) Two good sources for this exercise are:
THE GREAT GILLY HOPKINS by Katherine Patterson (a novel)
FOUR DOLLARS AND FIFTY CENTS by Eric A. Kimmel (a short story) This may be found in the Open Court Publishing Company, Framework For Effective Teaching, Grade 3 Book 1, 1995, Unit : Money .

2. Make up similes that are completed by phrases:
as slippery as a newly polished dance floor
as easy as turning on the tap

3. Make up some comical similes to communicate the opposite meaning of an adjective:
as clear as mud (means something was not clear at all)
as heavy as a bag of marshmallows
as pretty as Frankensteinís mother

4. Make up groups of similes:
similes for color words: as purple as a royal robe
similes that use animals as the basis of comparison: as jumpy as a kangaroo
similes for feeling words: as sad as the kittens who lost their mittens
similes that name famous people: as tall as Shaquille OíNeal
similes that are alliterative: as slow as a sloth; as rigid as a robot

5. Keep chart paper taped onto a board in the class so that students can add similes and metaphors that they find in their independent reading.

Using model of art project and showing how to do the folding will help ESOL or ESE students.

Web Links

Web supplement for Comparatively Speaking
Poetry Terms

Web supplement for Comparatively Speaking
Similes and Metaphors

Web supplement for Comparatively Speaking
Poetry General Knowledge Quiz

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