The Purpose of Figurative Language


Learning Objectives

Students will be able to describe the purpose of figurative language and identify it within a poem.


Grade Levels



Common Core Standard

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes.


Materials Needed

“My Dog” Poem




  • Figurative language compares things in order to give them more detail.
  • We use figurative language to help the reader better understand what we are trying to describe.

Explicit Instruction/Teacher Modeling (10 minutes)

  • Review some different types of figurative language.
  • Point out that there are three important types to think about for the poem you're about to read: hyperbole (exaggerated statements not meant to be taken literally), simile (comparing something to something else using "like" or "as"), and metaphor (comparing something to something else by saying it is that thing).

Guided Practice/Interactive Modeling (20 minutes)

  • Display the poem “My Dog” using the document camera and projector. Pass out a copy to each student as well. If you do not have a document camera, you can copy the poem on the board.
  • Read the poem aloud.
  • Each time you come across figurative language, underline it and ask students to identify what type of figurative language it is.
  • Students should underline it on their sheet as well.

Independent Working Time

  • After finding all the instances of figurative language, read the poem again without stopping.
  • Ask students the following questions:
    • What is the poem comparing?
    • How does this poem help you understand the dog?
    • How do the comparisons help you understand the poem?
  • Instruct students to draw a picture of the dog using the descriptions in the poem. They should include at least one example of figurative language in from the poem in their drawing.

Review and Closing

  • Discuss with the students why figurative language is useful.
  • Review hyperbole, simile and metaphor.


Hendricks, S. “My Dog.” Poetry Corner,