Simple Lesson Plan: Identification of Similes and Metaphors in Popular Music
A Quick Review of Similes and Metaphors
This lesson plan is meant to be used after your students have had the chance to learn what similes and metaphors are, so it doesn't put a lot of emphasis on definitions.
That being said, if you haven't discussed similes and metaphors at all yet, you might want to give your students some background knowledge before jumping into this lesson.
If your students are anything like mine, they need opportunities to review often, so I've provided an easy way to get things going and refresh your students' memories before you really delve into the lesson.
I would start off my class with a quick review of similes and metaphors by having a few fill in the blank comparisons on the board when my students walked into class. You could use some sentences like this:
- I was as angry as (a) _______________.
- She was a wild _________________.
- He is ____________ like a book.
- This school is a __________________.
- I am as _________________ as the ocean.
I would then ask my students to do two things.
- Fill in the blanks to create some fun comparisons
- Identify each sentence as either a simile or a metaphor.
Once your students have had time to work on this quick review, you can have them share their sentences with a neighbor and then ask for a few students to volunteer to share their creative similes and metaphors with the class.
As you go through each sentence, have the whole class signal whether the sentence was a simile or a metaphor by:
- showing a thumbs up for simile
- showing a thumbs down for metaphor
If you feel like your students still need a little more review knowing the difference between similes and metaphors, you can ask them to change each of their similes to metaphors and each of their metaphors to similes.
Setting Up the Activity
Next you will either need to have each student pull out a piece of paper to draw a t-chart on or if you want, you can create a worksheet in advance with several t-charts already on it.
Tell the students that at the top of their first t-chart, they should write the title of whatever song you play, and on each side of the t-chart, they should write down similes and metaphors that they hear.
You can look at my sample t-chart below to see what this might look like. I only made room for three similes and three metaphors, but obviously if you want your students to find more than that, you are welcome to have them find more. My chart is only an example.
I found that sometimes it was hard to find songs that have multiple similes and metaphors, so you might want to tell the kids that for some songs they are listening for mostly similes or mostly metaphors. Just do whatever works best for you.
Now For the Fun Part! Identifying Similes and Metaphors in Songs
I found several songs with similes and metaphors in them a few years ago. You are welcome to use some of the ideas that I had or come up with some of your own.
Obviously, the students really like it if you use songs that are currently popular, but I kind of like to throw in a mix of everything.
I usually tell my students that I will only play each song twice, and encourage them to write down as many similes and metaphors as they can the first time through.
It's easy for the students to get distracted and forget what their assigned task was if they start to get lost in the beat of the music.
If I notice that there are a lot of students with blank space on their t-charts after the first time through the song, I'll usually help point out some of the similes and metaphors to them the second time around.
I've included several links to songs below and provided the similes and metaphors in each song, so you can just choose the ones that you like the best.
Do you think your students are more engaged in lessons that have music involved?
After your students have had the chance to listen to several songs and identify the similes and metaphors in those songs, there is still room to take this lesson further if you want.
I have two more extensions to this assignment that you can use, but of course if you can think of something better, by all means do what you think would be best for your class.
The two extensions that I might do are as follows:
- Have the students use the similes and metaphors they identified in the songs as templates to start your students off, but have them create some variations on those similes and metaphors. For example: "You make me spin like a record," (from Smile) could be changed to, "You make me spin like a tornado."
- Have the students write songs or poems of their own and give them a specific requirement for how many similes and metaphors that they need to use. (You can let them borrow the tune of a different song if it is intimidating for them to think about coming up with a song on their own.)
Similes and Metaphors in Katy Perry's Firework
Katy Perry's "Firework" is full of similes and metaphors and is a favorite with many students. This link takes you to a video with the lyrics so that students can follow along.
- feel like a plastic bag
- like a house of cards
- like the fourth of July
- you're a firework
- There's a spark in you
- like a waste of space
- like a lightning bolt
Similes in Smile by Uncle Kracker
Here's the link for Uncle Kracker's "Smile." This one also has lyrics included on the video so that your students can follow along.
- smile like the sun
- Sing like a bird
- Spin like a record
- dance like a fool
- Shine like gold
- Buzz like a bee
- like a flower poking through the sidewalk crack
Similes and Metaphors in Selena Gomez's A Year Without Rain
Here's a video that shows the lyrics for this song that kids love. You'll love it too with so many similes and metaphors.
- My world is an empty place
- Like I've been wandering the desert
For a thousand days
- A day without you is like a year without rain
- My heart is yearning
Like the ocean that's running dry
- like the ground is crumbling underneath my feet
- There's gonna be a monsoon when you get back to me
- let this drought come to an end
- make this desert flower again
- It's a world of wonder with you in my life
Similes and Metaphors in Garth Brooks' The River
I do have a link to this song, but unfortunately it doesn't show the lyrics, so your students will just have to listen carefully.
- a dream is like a river
- a dreamer's just a vessel
- each day a constant battle
- Like a bird upon the wind
- These waters are my sky
Similes and Metaphors in Better Midler's The Rose
Your students might think this one is a little old school, but "The Rose" has a lot of metaphors in it.
- it is a river that drowns the tender reed
- it is a razor that leaves your soul to bleed
- it is a hunger an endless aching need
- it is a flower
- you, it's only seed
- It's the heart, afraid of breaking
- It's the dream, afraid of waking
- It's the one who won't be taken
- And the soul, afraid of dying
Similes and Metaphors in The Beatles' Hard Day's Night
Alright, I admit that Hard Day's Night doesn't have a whole ton of similes and metaphors in it, but it's nice for a change of pace if you plan on listening to a lot of songs.
- I've been working like a dog
- Sleeping like a log
Similes in Sugarland's Stuck Like Glue
"Stuck Like Glue" is another one that's nice to add for variety. It doesn't have a lot of similes, but it repeats the ones that it has over and over again, so it's easy for kids to find them.
- Feel like a bird
- Stuck like glue
Similes and Metaphors in Ricky Martin's She Bangs
I wouldn't recommend playing "She Bangs" in just any classroom, but if you feel comfortable with it and don't think it will make your class go crazy, it does have a lot of samples of figurative language in it.
- You blow me off like it's all the same
- Like a bomb
- like a Gemini
- Like a drum
- she looks like a flower but she stings
like a bee
- Like every girl in history
Are you looking for more fun lesson plan ideas? Check out this one about making inferences!
- Simple Lesson Plan: Making Inferences
Making inferences is a difficult skill for students to master and can be a challenge for teachers to teach. These are some fun and effective ways to help students of any age master this skill.