Show Me – Don’t Tell Me! Inset

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Understanding & using figurative language at Key Stage 2
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This training opportunity is for: Key Stage 2 teachers and literacy leaders.

The 2014 National Curriculum for English states:

Opportunities for teachers to enhance pupils’ vocabulary arise naturally from their reading and writing. 

As vocabulary increases, teachers should show pupils how to understand the relationships between words, how to understand nuances in meaning, and how to develop their understanding of, and ability to use, figurative language. Purpose of study - Spelling, vocabulary, grammar, punctuation

(Children) should demonstrate understanding of figurative language, distinguish shades of meaning among related words and use age-appropriate, academic vocabulary. Writing composition Years 3 & 4

Children should be taught to: discuss and evaluate how authors use language, including figurative language, considering the impact on the reader. Statutory requirements for reading Years 5 & 6

This training will give you an opportunity to explore the possibilities of figurative language for yourself and the children. You will discover ways of creating excitement about language in your classroom and of facilitating children’s ability to think in the abstract – a skill that emerges in normal child development by years 5 and 6. You will also be shown a highly effective way of planning to teach these ideas which will involve and stimulate the children.

The training will provide opportunities for teachers to:

  • Try out some effective classroom activities
  • Plan to extend the children’s understanding and use of figurative language
  • Discuss ways of differentiating the approach for younger children
  • Share insights and good practice
  • Ask and discuss questions that have arisen

Full Course Content

What is figurative language?

  • creating or dispelling ambiguity 
  • ‘show me – don’t tell me’ simile, metaphor, personification, hyperbole, symbolism, alliteration, onomatopoeia and idiom
  • clichés and stereotypes

The history and development of figurative language

  • ‘…it is the east and Juliet is the sun…’ the things that mere words can say
  • the subtext of nursery rhymes – not always for the children!
  • English idiom – things that grandma used to say
  • the power of figurative language in advertising
  • English idiom today – politicians, pop stars and the press

Working with figurative language with children

  • everyday things – stars, superstars, giants and gods
  • making a good metaphor or simile – ‘exploring the formula’ - Wordsworth’s Daisy poem
  • ‘parallel writing’ – a tool to help decipher or create meaning in figurative language
  • Snow White and the Seven Metaphors - figurative language in fables and fairy tales
  • painting mind pictures with words
  • maximum maxims – positive posters

Figurative language in the classroom

  • how to help children to discover figurative language by exploring texts together
  • how to balance discovery with explicit teaching
  • how to teach children to experiment with language
  • how to create texts with children
  • is there such thing as a synonym? – the science of semantics for children