Lesson plan

Explanations for Expressions

Do your students need instruction in how to find and determine the meaning of figurative language? In this lesson, students will explore the exaggerations found in hyperbole and elements of idioms.
Grade Subject View aligned standards
  • Students will be able to use context to determine the meaning of figurative language such as idioms and hyperbole.
  • Students will be able to recognize meanings of common idioms and hyperbole.
(5 minutes)
  • Distribute individual whiteboards and markers or sheets of white paper to students.
  • Write an idiom of choice on the board and ask the students to draw the literal representation of that idiom.
  • Tell the students that sometimes the literal representation doesn’t match figurative language such as idioms and hyperboles.
  • Tell the students that they will be learning some common expressions of figurative language and how to use the context to determine the meaning.
(10 minutes)
  • Tell the students that an idiom is a phrase that is not literal and the meaning is heavily dependent on how it is used.
  • Write a sentence of choice (or the following sample sentences) on the board: “Mr. Long’s garden is thriving with an exquisite number of flowers. He definitely has a green thumb!”
  • Invite the students to turn to their neighbors and talk about which part they think is not literal.
  • After the students have had a moment to discuss their thinking, underline the words “green thumb.” Think aloud, explaining how we can visualize an actual green thumb, but this is not the meaning of the phrase in this context.
  • Tell the students that you are going to look for other words in the sentences that help us understand the context of the idiom. Underline the following words in a different color: garden, thriving, exquisite, flowers.
  • Explain to the students that sometimes we can find exaggerations called hyperboles. Like idioms, these words or phrases do not have literal meanings.
  • Repeat the process of underlining the hyperbole and context clues in the following sentence (or sentence of choice): “School supplies can be so expensive. Every year it costs a million dollars!”
(10 minutes)
  • Tell the students that they will be working together as a group on a shared document that contains hyperbole and idioms.
  • Divide students into groups and share the document with the students.
  • After sharing the document with the students, ask the students to color code the figurative language and clue words. Then, invite the students to type their own interpretation of the figurative language.
(15 minutes)
  • Ask the students to complete the worksheet Expressions Explained.


  • Challenge students to find examples of hyperboles or idioms in advertisements (Ex: “Disneyland is the happiest place on earth.”)
  • Challenge students to brainstorm and think of other situations or examples where certain expressions can be used.


  • For students who have difficulty determining what is literal or figurative, ask them to create a quick illustration to match the language in the sentences. Then guide them through evaluating which words are part of the figurative language and which words are clue words.
  • Invite students to brainstorm and find other ways that the figurative language could be used. Ask them to create a digital representation of other contexts for using the figurative language.
(5 minutes)
  • Ask the students to give an example and a non-example of one idiom and one hyperbole.
  • Ask the students to write their responses in their journals and explain their thinking.
(5 minutes)
  • Pair students and ask them to think, pair, share with a partner, reflecting on what they learned about idioms and hyperbole.

Add to collection

Create new collection

Create new collection

New Collection


New Collection>

0 items