Try this activity to get to know your students and review figurative language.

review figurative language
Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

For many teachers, the start of the school year not only means learning who your students are but also learning what your students know. If you’re looking for an activity that serves as a figurative language review, that gives you a writing sample, serves as an icebreaker activity, and builds classroom community, look no further.

Since the school year was quite a mess last year with hybrid, in-person, and virtual learning happening all once, you’re probably wondering, “what did my students learn last year?” This year promises to be a circus as well thanks to the Delta variant of COVID-19.

I’m a big proponent of controlling what I can control, and my classroom is something I have command of (for the most part).

Back to School Means Time to Review

To start the semester, I like to learn about students. What are their learning styles? What do they expect out of me as their teacher? How well can they write? What skills and terminology are still sharp? And where are they rusty?

During summer, it’s easy for students to forget some of the basic English classroom vernacular, specifically things like figurative language. While I’m confident that their previous English teachers taught it, I’m sure most of my students aren’t reading a novel over summer thinking, “That’s such a beautiful metaphor.” It’s unlikely they are watching Never Have I Ever on Netflix and thinking, “That Davie, she’s so hyperbolic.” In order to refresh their memories, this is an activity I use at the start of the term to job their minds and get them in the right mindset for my English class.

Step-by-Step Directions

Step 1

To start, students complete a “Getting to Know You Survey.” The survey asks a few questions about past learning experiences, goals for the course, and thoughts on classroom community. While students are filling out their surveys, I like to walk around with a bowl with the figurative language terms on slips of paper. If you’re looking to differentiate this assignment, give the students the definitions. For honors or older students, just provide the term. Once students have selected a slip of paper (I have them blindly choose), they now have their assigned term to define and use in the next step of the activity.

Getting to Know You Survey
Screen capture from Getting to Know You Figurative Language Activity via Lit Up.
Step 2

Next, students partner up. They talk through their surveys. I’m a big fan of Think, Pair, Share. After they’ve met and discussed their surveys, they unpack what they’ve learned on the back of their survey.

figurative language review sheet
Screen capture from Getting to Know You Figurative Language Activity via Lit Up.


Step 3

The final part of the handout includes a section where partners describe each other using their assigned figurative language device. This allows them to practice and more deeply understand the device. It also provides me with a view of how well they know their devices.

After students complete the handout, I provide the class with a review sheet. This can later be used as a study guide. It lists all the assigned devices. For AP or IB students, I would modify this list and ask for more complex devices. This version better serves eighth or ninth graders.

Screen capture from Getting to Know You Figurative Language Activity via Lit Up.


If you’re looking for a way to do this virtually, I have an online discussion board prompt as part of the activity you can use here.

Don’t want to build all these resources? No worries. You can purchase everything you need to do this activity on day one of the school year here.

Figurative Language Getting to Know You Activity for High School via Lit Up.


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