Lesson plan

Pun Visuals

Strengthen your students' understanding of figurative language by helping them interpret visual puns! Students will use a webpage to help them understand puns in their future reading and writing endeavors.
Grade Subject View aligned standards

Students will be able to interpret and sketch visual puns with idioms or common phrases.

(5 minutes)
  • Distribute a pad of sticky notes to each student and display a picture advertisement that uses a play on words (i.e. a pun).
  • Ask students to write down any thoughts that come to mind about the advertisement and the meaning. Have them turn and talk to their partners to share their ideas. Then, have students place the sticky notes next to the advertisement.
  • Explain that the advertisement uses a pun to get people talking about the product and to deliver a message in a clever way. Tell them today they'll learn about how to find the meaning in visual puns.
(7 minutes)
  • Define pun as a play on words that uses words or phrases, such as idioms, and changes them to create a joke or message. Tell them this advertisement is a visual pun because it uses the visual to help inform people about the pun's meaning or message.
  • Display the What is a Visual Pun? webpage and display the "Oh Whale" visual. Think aloud your first impressions and write down the phrase "Oh well" on the board.
  • Choose and display a different visual pun with an idiom from the webpage and explain the pun to students. Remind students that an idiom is a phrase they cannot understand by knowing the meaning of each of its words because it does not make sense literally. Make sure to write the correct idiom alongside the pun to highlight the differences.
  • Play the video about a visual pun from the What's a Visual Pun? webpage. After the video, choose a volunteer to explain the difference between a pun and a visual pun.
(20 minutes)
  • Distribute a sheet of printer paper and have students fold it so there are three columns with the headings Notice, Think, and Wonder.
  • Make sure students have access to the What is a Visual Pun? webpage. Give them five minutes to talk in groups about the webpage and answer the following questions in their respective columns:
    • What do you notice about visual puns?
    • What do you think about visual puns?
    • What do you wonder about visual puns?
  • Choose non-volunteers to share their groups' answers about the page. Choose another volunteer to state the difference between a pun and a visual pun.
  • Draw a four-square on the board, choose four different puns from the What is a Visual Pun? webpage, and write one pun in each square.
  • Tell students they'll continue to explore the What's a Visual Pun? webpage in partners and determine the meanings of the four visual puns listed in the four-square. Have them write their answers on sticky notes and add the notes to the appropriate squares.
  • Choose four non-volunteers to explain their understanding of a visual pun from the four-square. Write down their thoughts on the board in the four-square and allow other students to add onto the explanations, if necessary.
(15 minutes)
  • Distribute one printer paper to each student and ask them to choose an idiom or common phrase they'd like to use to create a pun.
  • Have them create a pun and sketch a visual for the pun. Then, have them explain the meaning of the pun in a sentence.
  • Allow them to share their sketches with their partners when they're done.


  • Preteach idioms and multiple-meaning words to help them understand their connection to puns.
  • Provide a list of idioms or multiple-meaning words students can use to create a pun. Allow them to brainstorm with partners before creating their visual puns.
  • Give students sentence stems for all their open-response questions.


  • Have students explain their process for creating their visual puns to help inspire struggling students.
  • Challenge students to practice finding the meaning of puns with the Pun Exercise, then challenge them to create their own pun.
  • Have students practice finding the meaning of different puns with the Play on Words or Homographic Puns worksheets.
  • Provide students with tablets or computers to access the webpage and video about puns.
  • Allow students to experiment with Adobe Spark Post to make their visual pun after they've completed their sketch.
  • Have students conduct a website search of "common idioms for kids" to use for their own visual puns.
(8 minutes)
  • Display the "Not Gonna Fly" visual from the What is a Visual Pun? webpage and distribute one index card to each student. Ask students to write down the meaning of the visual pun.
  • Allow 30 seconds for students to share their answer with their elbow partner.
  • Choose a non-volunteer to share the meaning and have students vote with thumbs up for their agreement or thumbs down for their disagreement. If a student disagrees, then have them share their own answer.
(5 minutes)
  • Ask students to refer back to their sheet of paper about what they notice, think, and wonder about the What is a Visual Pun? webpage. Ask them to share their lingering questions with their partners. Choose volunteers to share their questions and allow other students to answer them.
  • Choose students to share aloud why it's important to understand figurative language, and puns in general. For example, understanding figurative language can help them understand fictional texts and help them add variation to their fictional writing.

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