Sunday, May 6, 2012

Figurative Langauge: Literal vs. Author's Meaning

Last week in reading, we introduced figurative language. We will dive into all of the sub-categories of figurative language (including similes/metaphors, idioms, exaggerations, hyperboles, etc.) this coming week. I used this anchor chart to demonstrate the literal meaning and the author's meaning of "a frown that breaks rocks" - a phrase from one of our mentor texts. (Please don't judge my frown with big muscles. I've never claimed to be a good artist!)

When students came to the carpet for our lesson, I had them each bring a post-it on a hard surface and a pencil. For guided practice, I paired students up and asked them to draw the literal and author's meaning for the following phrase from one of our mentor texts: "Slowly dusk pours the syrup of darkness into the forest."

Students who had to draw the literal meaning for this phrase came up first. Each student described what they
drew. We saw a lot of pictures of dusk with real hands squeezing an actual syrup bottle over the top of trees in a forest. Two of the pictures had other trees asking, "Where are the waffles!" It made us laugh and truly helped to establish that we can't always take author's words literally when we read.

Understanding figurative language means we need to think beyond the literal meaning of words. I was pleased to see that the author's meaning drawings students made for "slowly dusk pours the syrup of darkness into the forest" didn't have any actual syrup bottles in them. Students simply drew a peaceful forest getting darker.

As a class, we wrote out in words the literal meaning and the author's meaning for our phrase.

For independent practice, students returned to their desks and glued the following chart into their Author's Craft section of their Thoughtful Logs. Students drew a picture and wrote out in words the literal meaning and the author's meaning for the phrase: "a laugh that creates tidal waves..."

In other news, we have been working on pre-writing, drafting, editing, and publishing our Mother's Day projects. For the sake of wanting to surprise any of our mothers who follow our blog, I'm going to refrain from posting too many pictures of what we're doing so that I don't completely give away what your little munchkins will be giving you. Here they are in the publishing process:

Last week, we also worked on writing our thank you cards to the Jefferson County Courthouse and the Kutz Farm for letting us visit and learn about government and agriculture. I printed off several pictures from our field trips and each student used one of the pictures on each of their cards to kind of 'personalize' our experience at each place. Prior to writing, we reviewed the parts of a friendly letter, in addition to a topic sentence, three supporting detail sentences, and a closing sentence for a strong paragraph.

Lastly, Nina was our Person of the Week last week. She brought in her dog, Meatball!So tiny and so very cute. :)


  1. Well it looks like you had a lovely, busy week :) Figurative Language is fun to teach. My kids fell in love with the phrase "frozen in time," and I found it popping up in their writing, sometimes correctly, but mostly a little abused! LOL

    Buzzing with Ms. B

  2. Very cute! I love how concrete you have made this abstract concept. Thanks for sharing.


  3. I just wanted to say Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to you! You are an inspiration daily to me! Wish I could get up there to observe you in your classroom, but it would be quite the road trip from Central Florida! :)

    Have a great week!

  4. What mentor texts did you use for "a frown that breaks rocks" and "slowly dusk pours the syrup..."? Thanks!