4th Grade - Figurative Language (simile, Metaphor, Hyperbole, Personification)

Stories and Literature
Figurative language (simile, metaphor, hyperbole, personification)
Define figurative language (e.g., simile, metaphor, hyperbole, personification) and identify its use in literary works.
The ability to identify and define figurative language (e.g., simile, metaphor, hyperbole, personification) in context as well as isolated examples.

Sample Problems


What is figurative language? (sayings with non-literal meanings – often colloquial expressions)


What is a simile? (a comparison of two things using the words “like” or “as”)


What is a metaphor? (a vivid comparison of two things using descriptive language and/or symbolism)


What is hyperbole? (a deliberate and obvious exaggeration)


What is personification? (giving lifelike qualities to inanimate objects)

Learning Tips


Figurative language can be tons of fun. Have a contest or “battle” to see who can think of the silliest pun, idiom, simile, oxymoron, metaphor, or personification. Label your contribution and double your points for thinking of examples that crossover and fit in more than one category. Keep trying to “1-up” the other person or people by thinking of something even funnier! (Note: “Your momma…” jokes and other similar insults are great hyperboles, but should be kept tasteful.)


  • Act naturally! (oxymoron)

  • The sidewalk cracked up at your joke. (personification, pun)

  • To write with a broken pencil is pointless. (pun).

  • The refrigerator called to me. (personification)

  • You’re as silly as a pink elephant! (simile)

  • Stop eating your diet ice cream, couch potato, and get out of your birthday suit! (oxymorons)

  • Don’t let the cat out of the bag! (idiom)

  • There once a cross-eyed teacher that couldn’t control his pupils. (pun)

  • He was as tall as a 6’3” tree. (simile)

  • Get your mind out of the gutter! (idiom)

  • My brain is in screensaver mode. (metaphor)

  • The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while. (imagery/ metaphor)


Metaphors, similes, and idioms are all types of figurative language that compare things. Unlike similes (use like and as to make comparisons) and metaphors (vivid comparisons that do not use like and as), idioms do not make any literal sense – they are common expressions enrooted in the language.

Practice differentiating (finding what is different) between these three types of figurative language – make a table with three columns and list examples of each kind.





idiom: as snug as a bug in a rug

- making fun of a tree is a knock on wood (pun)

- cool kindness , jumbo shrimp (oxymorons) ake several pieces of paper and fold them all together in half, so it makes a book. Then staple or hole-punch and tie the folded edges so the pages stay together. Make a “Figurative and Literal” book to show words or expressions with pictures of their literal and figurative meanings (one meaning per page or one word/ expression per page).
Examples: literal on left; figurative on right

More examples: http://idiomsbykids.com


Choose a few examples of figurative language that you could act out. Do this in a figurative (what the expression means as a whole) or literal (taking each word for its actual, real meaning) way.


  • You can’t teach old dogs new tricks.

  • Break the ice.

  • Stick your neck out for a friend.

  • Brush that chip off your shoulder.

  • Toot your own horn, why don’t ya!

If you have a video camera, it could be hilarious to record these acts, otherwise, “savor the moment”!


Look around the house for common, everyday items to use in figurative language sentence stems. Focus on hyperboles (exaggeration) and personification (giving lifelike qualities to inanimate objects). Write down the examples when you think of creative ones! Share them!


  • The refrigerator called to me. (personification)

  • The ice cubes jingled in the sweaty glass. (personification, onomatopoeia)

  • That oven must be set at 1,000 degrees! (hyperbole)

  • The printer ate my paper! (personification)

  • The car flew as fast as lightning! (hyperbole, simile)

Extra Help Problems


What is a pun? (a word or phrase that has more than one possible meaning – used humorously in context)


What is an oxymoron? (phrase in which two words of contradictory meaning are used together for special effect)


What is an idiom? (a “figure of speech” or natural expression native to a language, whose literal meaning makes no sense)


What is imagery? (figurative language, especially similes and metaphors, used in plays, poetry, & other literary works that describes a scene with such vivid details that you can imagine/ visualize it)


What is alliteration? (where consecutive words begin with and/or contain the same sound and/ or letter)


What is onomatopoeia? (when a word makes the sound of things it describes)


What is an example of a simile? (His nose is as cold as ice!, My cat is like a stealth ninja., etc.)


What is an example of a metaphor? (“Juliet is the sun.” – Shakespeare, New shoes are a new start., etc.)


What is an example of hyperbole? (You are a day late!, I could eat a million of these!, etc.)


What is an example of personification? (The walls whispered to me., The teapot sang and whistled., etc.)


What is an example of a pun? (There was once a cross-eyed teacher who couldn’t control his pupils., I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me., etc.)


What is an example of an oxymoron? (wise fool, legal murder, etc.)


What is an example of an idiom? (put your money where your mouth is, is there a frog in your throat?, it’s raining cats and dogs, etc.)


What is an example of imagery? (“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost
Two Roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry that I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;…
Her skin was as white as snow and her eyes were as black as coals…, etc.)


What is an example of alliteration? (The rabbits ran rapidly.; She left as fast as a flock in flight., I have a fuzzy, furry ferret and a cute, cuddly kitty., Dentists do dental diagnoses., etc.)


What is are examples of onomatopoeias? (The wind swished through the air., He honked the horn., The dog barked, “Woof!”, etc. )


Related Games


Copyright ©2009 Big Purple Hippos, LLC