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Let's Go Out On a Limb! Learning about Idioms
This lesson was created to teach third and fourth grade students about figurative language. Students will be exposed to several idioms. They will find and learn the meaning of each idiom and how to use it in a sentence correctly. To add motivation, they will work with a partner to create an illustration that shows the literal meaning of their assigned idiom. Finally they will present their completed work to the rest of the class.
Goals & Objectives:

Instructional Goals:

  • Students will understand the difference between figurative and literal expressions.
  • Students will gain a better understanding of how figurative language is used.
  • Students will use print and/or electronic resources to retrieve information.


Learning Objectives:

  • Students will write the definition of an assigned idiom.
  • Students will create an illustration to show the literal meaning of the assigned idiom.
  • Students will write a sentence using the assigned idiom correctly.
  • Students will successfully access information from a selected website and/or an idiom dictionary that defines their assigned idiom.


Motivational Goals:

  • Generate interest in the research process.
  • Build student’s confidence in their ability to use resources effectively.
  • Promote student’s satisfaction in their research accomplishments.
  • Gain confidence in processing information to fill an information need.
  • Motivate students to continue to use information skills after the lesson.
Materials & Sources:

Chart paper

Experience Chart



Idiom Dictionaries

Handout [see Supporting Files]

Art supplies

Prewritten idioms


Web Site:



  1. Several sentences that contain idioms will be displayed on an experience chart. Each sentence will have context clues that make it easy for students to figure out the idiom’s meaning.
  2. After students have settled in the carpet area, say to them, “I have something up my sleeve today.  Can you figure out what it is?”
  3. Determine their understanding of the idiom used in the question by how they respond.  Ask while looking up my sleeve,  “Do I really have something up my sleeve?  What did I mean by that question?”
  4. Explain to students that what I said was a figure of speech or an idiom.  “An idiom is a phrase that means something different than what the actual words say.  We may come across idioms in our reading or in our everyday conversations with people.”
  5. Students will be called on to discuss the meanings of the idiom in each displayed sentence.  The context clues will help them to figure out the meaning of any idiom they are unfamiliar with.
  6. The definition of idiom will be elicited and written on chart paper.



  1. It will be explained to students that they will work with a partner to:
    • find the meaning of an assigned idiom,
    • use that idiom in a sentence correctly, and
    • create an illustration showing the literal meaning of the sentence they use.
  2. A website containing a dictionary of idioms will be shown to students as an available resource.  There will also be a few copies of The Scholastic Dictionary of Idioms available for use.
  3. Students will pair up with an assigned partner.  They will chose an idiom written on a slip of paper from a container.
  4. Each student will receive a handout to complete.
  5. It will be explained to students that after they complete their worksheet, they will move to the tables with art supplies to create their illustration.
  6. A sample illustration will be shown to students and briefly discussed.
  7. Students are now ready to begin their search for idiom meanings.
  8. The teacher and LMS will circulate to assist students with their assignment.
  9. Students will have the remainder of the double period to complete their assignment.



  1. When time is up, students will meet in the carpet area. They will form a circle and sit next to their partners.
  2. Each pair of students will share their idiom, its meaning, the sentence they wrote, and then present their illustration.
  3. Their classmates will use this opportunity to ask questions and comment on the different idioms.
  4. A brief summary of the lesson’s objectives will conclude the lesson with the final statement being, “Time really did fly, didn’t it?  Catch you next time!”
- Completed worksheet will demonstrate student's ability to extract information from library resources accurately.
- Sentence will demonstrate student's understanding of the idiom's meaning.
- Illustration will show student's understanding that the literal meaning of the idiom is different from the figurative meaning.
LMS and 3rd or 4th grade classroom teacher
Print this Lesson Plan
Presented By: Suzanne Johnson-Robinson
Collaborative: LMS and 3rd or 4th grade classroom teacher
Website by Data Momentum, Inc.