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Idiom Activities for Upper Elementary

Looking for some engaging idiom activities to use when teaching idioms? Here are a few ideas.

Have you ever read a book with your students when suddenly an idiom shows up and someone asks, "What does that mean?" Idioms without the proper context clues can be really difficult to understand especially for nonnative English speakers. This is why teaching them the most popular idioms for kids is important. Not sure where to start? Here a few idiom activities that will make teaching idioms a piece of cake.

Looking for some engaging idiom activities to use when teaching idioms? Use books as introductions to your lessons.

1.  Share a Few Idioms Books as Read Alouds


Introducing idioms can be so much fun when sharing them through a read aloud. There are quite a few idiom picture books you can share with your students that will have them in stitches and excited to learn more. You can purchase or check them out from your local library to read them out loud yourself, or you can look up the title on YouTube where you can usually find many read alouds.

2.  Introduce a Few New Idioms at a Time


No two groups of students are the same. You may have years when most of your students are avid readers and are familiar with many of the common idioms and others where they aren't familiar with too many.

Starting off with one or two idioms at a time is most beneficial when introducing unfamiliar idioms.

Implementing an Idiom of the Week is a great way to make sure students are exposed to a variety of idioms without getting overwhelmed.

Looking for some engaging idiom activities to use when teaching idioms? Try implementing an Idiom of the Week.

3.  Allow Students to Interact with Idioms


Just as with new vocabulary words, giving the students the opportunity to write the idiom, define it, use it in a sentence, and illustrate it will allow them to master the idiom.

Breaking some of these opportunities down throughout the week will allow them to interact with the idiom more than once.

A sample schedule for an Idiom of the Week could be:

  • Monday: Read, write, and discuss the idiom. Then, have the students write down the definition.
  • Tuesday: Provide them with an example of when and how to use the idiom. Have students write their own sentence incorporating the idiom.
  • Wednesday: Have students illustrate the idiom or the sentence they wrote. 
  • Thursday: Have students share their sentence and illustration with the class or a few classmates.
(If you'd like the worksheet below, just fill out the form.)



    4.  Provide Practice Opportunities


    Once students have been exposed to a few idioms, have them work with the set of idioms.

    Looking for some engaging idiom activities to use when teaching idioms? Here are a few ideas.

    Some activities you can implement are

    • Idiom Task Cards
      • Task Cards are a versatile way to have students review common idioms. They can be placed in reading centers, used as a whole group scoot activity, or displayed one at a time as morning work.
    • I Have, Who Has Cards 
      • This activity is a fun whole group activity. You can implement it in class several times trying to break the last time record.
    • Create Idiom Rhymes
      • Have students select an idiom and write a mini poem or rhyme. For example: It's not smart to run across logs, when it's raining cats and dogs.
    • Idiom Memory Match Game
      • Make a set of idiom cards and a set of meanings. Have students take turns flipping cards to see if the word matches the definition. If it does, they get to keep the pair of cards. The student with the most cards at the end wins.

    Looking for some engaging idiom activities to use when teaching idioms? Use classroom transformations to wrap up your idiom unit.

    5.  Create a Summative Experience


    Creating classroom experiences is a fun way to sum up your lessons on idioms. Some experiences you provide your students with are:

    • Idiom Dress Up Day: Have students create costumes based on an idiom. When they come to class, have students try to guess what the idiom is.
    • Idiom Design Studio: Have students design an idiom t-shirt. They draw the literal meaning on the front and the actual meaning on the back. Have them include the definition and a sentence on each of the sleeves.
    • Idiom Fashion Show: You can use this activity with either of the ones above. Set up a red carpet and have your students walk down the runway showing off their creations.


    Looking for some engaging idiom activities to use when teaching idioms? Here are a few ideas.


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