Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Laundry List of Idioms

Abby Hill


Using the idiom -laundry list- as an example, students create paper items representing things seen on a clothesline that visually and in written form depict common idioms.


The student uses appropriate words to shape reactions, perceptions, and beliefs (for example, connotative and idiomatic meanings, synonyms, antonyms, sensory words).

The student extends awareness of similes, metaphors, symbols, analogies, alliteration, and idiomatic language learned in third and fourth grades.


-Teacher selected reading passage(s), grade level 5 - 7, containing idiomatic language
-8 1/2 x 11- plain paper (no lines) color or white, one for each student
-Markers, pencils
-Clothesline rope
-Overhead transparency with 'laundry' related idioms and their meanings (see procedures below)
-Writing paper (student provided)


1. Gather/purchase materials.

2. Select reading passage(s) containing idiomatic language.

3. Prepare transparency with written idioms.


1. Students need to have prior knowledge of idioms through teacher instruction and review, through reading passages containing idiomatic language, and from class discussions.

2. Review idiomatic concepts with students prior to this activity and check for understanding.

3. Present and explain the idiom -laundry list- (meaning a long list of things to be done.) Provide for student questions and feedback.

4. Describe this activity to students: -Let's try and think of idioms that use words related to laundry. Let's start by thinking of things that you wash in the laundry-. (pants, towel, rug, skirt, socks,etc.) Lead students through a brainstorming process.

5. -Now let's look at idioms that use these laundry words.- Reveal the prepared overhead transparency containing idioms using laundry-related terms such as:
-skirt the issue-
-sweep it under the rug-
-beat the pants off- (a team or someone)
-throw in the towel-
-knock your socks off-
Add as many as you think think of, including ones that students provide. Explain what each idiom means and write brief definition on overhead as you reveal each one.

6. Distribute a sheet of plain paper to each student.

7. Direct students to use the paper to create one of the idiom/laundry words above (sock, rug, pants, towel, etc.) of their choice.

8. Allow students to decorate or color one side of the item as they wish.

9. On the other side of the item, direct students to write the idiom that it represents.

10. Students, using clothespins, hang their -laundry list- of items on classroom clothesline.

11. Leave clothesline hanging in classroom for a period of time. Use as a reminder to students of these idioms and the concept of idioms, in general.

12. Next, on their own writing paper, assign students to write a short paragraph (4 to 5 sentences) using their chosen 'laundry' idiom as part of the writing. The writing can relate a personal story (such as a student writing about their ballgame last night where the other team -beat the pants off- our team-), or can be fictional. This writing will be turned in for grading and must demonstrate the student's understanding and proper use of the idiom.


Assess the student's class participation in group discussion and assigned activity.

Assess the student's ability to provide examples of idioms and their meanings (evidenced by verbal responses as well as written on back of paper items.)

Assess the student's demonstration of understanding of a given idiom and of context, based on written, assigned product (story described in procedure #12 above.)

Students who have difficulty will need corrective feedback and additional practice. This is a formative assessment.
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