Sunday, February 15, 2009

SmallWorld's Wordsmithery: Similes

Welcome back to SmallWorld's WordSmithery! It's been a couple of weeks, I know, but I'm keeping it real here. Sometimes it takes me a couple of weeks to get through a one week lesson myself, so I don't want you all to feel stressed out and think that you must do creative writing every day. We're all about flexibility around here.

If you are just joining the WordSmithery, please go back to Lesson 1 to find out what's going on around here. I've appreciated the feedback I've gotten from several of you! At some point I'd like to have an occasional page where you share some of your kids' writings, so remind me if I forget, as I'm apt to do.

We're still talking here about the building blocks of all writing: good words. After you made/bought your journals, we talked about The Power of a Good Word and synonyms and adjectives. This week, we're moving on to similes, which looks like "smilies" if you don't read carefully. :-) :-) Remember that, as always, this lesson is loosely scripted as a means to generate discussion and response with your student(s). I've also included the lesson and assignments on separate files that you can print out, linked at the bottom. I try to put the "speaking" parts in regular type and the answers in italics. And remember: parents/teacher: you should be doing the assignments, too!

Assignment #4: Similes

(Note: if you don't go through your journal assignments from the previous lesson on a regular basis, this is the time to share your journals!)

I. The Lesson

A. Review: Last week we talked about synonyms and adjectives. What is a synonym? What is an adjective? (allow for answers)
-- Read the poem "Mango" by Madeleine Comora. Pick out synonyms and adjectives.


Bathed in flames
Of sunset red
And gold
It beams
In the bowl.
I cradle
The ripe globe,
Peel away the skin,
Perfume rises,
Thick juice drips
On my chin.
The pulp,
Sticky sweet,
The summer heat
Down to the oval stone,
Slippery smooth
And white as the moon.

~By Madeleine Comora

B. This week we are going to talk about another very important tool that writers use: the simile. Here is an important word to remember when you hear the word simile: the word is LIKE. Similes tell you what something is LIKE.

C. Read "Cow" by Valerie Worth.

The cow
Across the grass
Like a mountain
Toward us;
Her hipbones
Like sharp
Of stone,
Her hoofs
Like dropped
Too late
She stops.
~By Valerie Worth
1. Lets pick out the similes or “like whats”: how does she move? (like a mountain)
2. How does she look? (hipbones like sharp peaks of stone)
3. How does she sound? (hoofs thump like dropped rocks)
4. Each one of those phrases is called a simile. A simile takes two unlike things and compares them using the words "like" or "as." A simile is called a "figure of speech," but that's not really too important. You'll see what we mean more as we move along.

D. "Like what" exercise
1. We're going to do a "like what" exercise now to help you form your own similes. So close your eyes. Imagine that a color is going to come into the room and zoom into your bodies. When it does, it’s going to make you feel hot or cold, because colors can do this. For example, you might feel extremely hot as if you are swimming in a volcano, or cold as if you are picking up a snowball without gloves on and it is dripping down your arm and into your sleeve.
2. The color is BLUE. Close your eyes and picture the color blue
3. Now—keep your eyes closed—what does BLUE feel like? (wait for responses. They will most likely say things like "hot" or "cold." What you want them to do is expand on that, so you will have to coach them with, "hot like what?" Write their responses on the board or paper with the word Blue at the top.)
4. What does blue sound like? (Again, they may say single words like "quiet." Prompt them to say "quiet like _____")
5. What does blue taste like? (Follow above pattern)
6. What does blue smell like?
7. What does blue sound like? Taste like? Look like (shape, size)? Have texture like? Move like?
(Note: at the end of this exercise, you will have a poem like this:
Blue is hot like electric wires and cold like a glacier.
Blue sounds like butterfly whispers and tastes like a popsicle.
Blue smells like cotton candy and looks still like a puddle.
Blue feels smooth like a rock.
Blue moves fast like a waterfall)

E. Now let’s take a FEELING and go through this same type of LIKE WHAT list.
Anger can be (repeat above list)
(write out as poem on board)

F. You can do more "like what" exercises with colors or feelings. You might have each student (including you) take a different color or feeling and come up with a "like what" poem. So use the format:
Tastes like
Smells like
Moves like
Sounds like
Texture like (rough, slimy)
Looks like (shape, size)
Hot like
Cold like

II. The "Homework"
A. This week you are going to write a poem for homework. You will also have your regular journal assignments, but you will also write a poem using plenty of “like whats.”
B. What is a portrait? (Let kids answer.) Portraits were especially important before we had cameras. Do people still do portraits or paintings?
C. You are going to do a written portrait. Let’s practice a little here.
1. Touch your hair. What does it feel like? Remember, you don’t have to choose just texture (my hair feels like straw); you could choose color (my hair feels like black satin). (Allow for answers.)
2. What about your fingernails? What do they feel like? (for example, Sharp like cat claws.) What do they look like? (For example, dirty like a garden shovel.)
3. Remember our “like what” list.
4. This page is for your self-portrait. You can choose whatever you want for your portrait: eyes, ears, feet, hair, heart, whatever! You can make it funny or you can make it serious. I’ve included a few samples to give you some ideas. Self-Portrait exercise here.

Self-Portrait Exercise

My ____________________________ is like ______________________________


My __________________________ are like _______________________________

My _________________________ are____________________________________.

My heart holds _______________________________________________________
(use a feeling word)

that is _____________________ as ______________________________________.
(Color, etc.)

I live in __________________________________

And I eat ________________________________.

Self Portrait
My back is like a strong bridge.
My hands are like a wicker basket waiting to carry a load.
My words can be sharp like a razor or soothing like a quilt.
My eyes are like a sentry constantly on watch.
My heart holds love that is endless as a river.
I live on a mountain
And eat wild carrots.

III. Journal Writings

Use any kind of words you like: nouns, verbs, adjectives

Day 1
Pick a feeling/emotion or any other idea. Think about it and write a line that tells…
• what color it is
• what it tastes like
[For example: Freedom is red, white and blue and tastes like chalupas and linguine.]

Day 2
Use the same word from yesterday’s assignment (for example, “freedom”) or choose a new feeling or idea. Think about it and write a line that tells…
• what is smells like
• what it looks like
[For example: Happiness smells like honeysuckle and looks like a ridge of mountains in the morning.]

Day 3
Pick a color. Tell in a sentence or group of sentences what this color:
• Looks like
• Sounds like
[For example: Yellow looks like Black-eyed Susans and sounds like butterfly wings.]

**NOTE: We got so excited about colors that we created a special simile rainbow. Click HERE to see this enrichment activity. It's fun!!

Day 4
Write a list of 10 things you want to do in the next year.


  1. Thanks for another great week of writing lessons!!

  2. The Mango poem makes me wish I was sitting in Jamaica with a fresh-picked mango! Mmmmm!

  3. Thank you, and happy almost birthday!

  4. I just stumbled across your program via the Well Trained Mind forums. Absolutely wonderful. My son and I will surely enjoy it. Thank you for sharing all your hard work and have a very happy birthday! :)

  5. Wow! Excellent, thank you so much for this lesson. I'll try to give you some feedback after I do this with my students. Blessings to you this week!

  6. How can you post a blog on this topic without even showing one single example of a smiley? :)

  7. Thank you for doing this and for being real. :-) Sometimes it takes us more than a week too! My kids are loving the lessons though, and last week they kept asking if you'd posted the new one!

  8. Thank you. I was told about your site by Laurie L. I downloaded the first two lessons but the "file doesn't exist" for the remaining. Would love to get a copy of it all. Thank you for sharing your creativity!

  9. Thanks! This is really well-made and very helpful

  10. Hi, can you post your lessons in PDF form

  11. I am sooo excited to find your blog.....can't wait to start using your Wordsmithery writing course!!!!! Thanks so much for this great resource!

  12. Again, your guidance is amazing. Thank you so much!

  13. Generous sharing. Thank you


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