Monday, March 16, 2009

SmallWorld's Wordsmithery: Metaphors and Strong Verbs

Welcome back to SmallWorld's WordSmithery! I know it's been a couple of weeks, but like I said in the last lesson, I'm keeping it real here. I don't do a whole lesson each week, and I don't want you to feel pressured to either.

If you are brand new here, you really must go back and start at the beginning or, frankly, you'll be rather confused. Here's what we've covered so far:
Lesson #1: Introduction and Journals
Lesson #2: Introduction to Creative Writing, Featuring Good Words
Lesson #3: Using Powerful Words to Create More Interesting Writing
Lesson #4: Similes

That brings us up to Lesson #5: Metaphors and Strong Verbs. As always, this lesson is loosely scripted. You might eliminate some things or add others as you go. 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! Here we go!

Metaphors and Strong Verbs

(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! Also, if you didn't share your "Self-Portrait" exercise from Week 4, this is the time to share those. Remember: we only use encouraging words!)

I. The Lesson
A. Review: Last week we talked about similes. What is a simile? (A LIKE WHAT word. A comparison using “like” or “as.”)
B. Today we're going to talk about another type of comparison. This one is called a METAPHOR. Does anyone know what a metaphor is? (Allow for answers)
C. Metaphors are so much like similes that sometimes it’s hard to tell them apart. A metaphor compares two things, but it does NOT use the words “like” or “as.” A metaphor is telling you that one thing is like another without using the words LIKE or AS. Listen to these examples:
1. The ocean is a huge swimming pool.
• Why is that a metaphor instead of a simile? How can I change it into a simile?
2. My dog is a hungry wolf. (as the same questions for all examples)
3. Books are food for the brain.

D. This is a poem comparing the sun with both a metaphor and a simile. Read "Sun" by Valerie Worth. This is from her poetry collection All the Small Poems (and Fourteen More). I strongly recommend purchasing this book! Can you pick out the metaphor and the simile? (metaphor: the sun is a leaping fire; simile: the sun is like a quilt)

The sun
Is a leaping fire
Too hot
To go near,

But it will still
Lie down
In warm yellow squares
On the floor

Like a flat
Quilt, where
The cat can curl
And purr.
Repeat with Worth's poem "Stars" (metaphor: stars are fire-oceans, seas, crystal sparks)


While we
Know they are
Enormous suns,
Gold lashing
Seas of heavy
Silver flame,

The look as
Though they could
Be swept
Down, and heaped,
Cold crystal
Sparks, in one
Cupped palm.

E. Let’s try some of these together on the board. (Write on board--or paper--one at a time. Allow for plenty of answers. For example, "music is a waterfall on a hot summer's day." Make sure they do not use "like" or "as.")
1. Music is
2. The sun is
3. My cat is

F. So metaphors are just another way to make your writing more exciting. We’ve talked about using interesting words and using lots of good adjectives and similes and metaphors. Now we’re going to talk again about VERBS.

A. What can often be the most powerful part of any writing is a VERB. Let’s talk a little more about how important verbs are.
1. What is a verb? ( An action word. Let's not go into helping verbs, linking verbs, and being verbs here. We're sticking with "action" for this.) Is mountain a verb? Is green a verb? Is throttle a verb?
2. Verbs are action words. You can choose a weak verb like EAT or a strong verb like GOBBLE. You can use a word like PUT (as in “I put the book on the table”) or a word like “thumped” (I thumped the book on the table.)

B. Let’s listen to all the strong verbs in the poem "Raindrops" by Sallie Burrow Wood. Listen, and then tell me the verbs* as I read it again. Notice how, in this poem, raindrops do so much more than just "fall."
Rain Drops

~ Sallie Burrow Wood

C. Listen to these sentences:
1. “The old man walks into the room.”
“The girl walks into the room.”
What words are the same in both sentences? (walks) What part of speech is this? (verb)
What words are different? (old man/little girl)
2. So I used the SAME VERB with two very different people: an old man and a little girl. Let’s try this again together. Let’s start with the sentence about the little girl. Let’s bring her into the room again, but change the very to better make us see the AGE, SIZE, MOOD, AND CHARACTER of the little girl. (Note: it helps if you ask them to act these out.)
1. Let’s make her happy but ONLY by changing the VERB.
The girl ____________ (wait for answers--encourage them to use "happy" verbs like bounces, skips, hops, jumps, bounds) into the room. Show me what the girl might look like if she is coming into the room happily.
2. Let’s make her MAD but ONLY by changing the VERB
The girl ____________ (wait for answers, like stomps, stamps, thrusts) into the room. Show me what she might look like if she were coming into the room mad.
3. Now let’s do the same thing with the old man.
a. Let’s make him tired.
The old man ____________ (Encourage them to physically do this, and wait for answers, like trudges, hobbles, limps)
b. Let’s make him excited.
The old man ___________ (Encourage them to physically do this, and wait for answers, like hurried, ran, jumped)

Excellent! So you see how much you can do with your writing just by using exciting verbs.

If time, write these words on the board and see if they can find more exciting verbs. (Acting these things out always helps them to find more verbs. They could also use a thesaurus here!)

Journal Writings
****WRITE EVERY DAY!!!****

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

Day 1
Complete the following similes:
• funny as a ______________
• quiet as a ______________
• ugly as a _______________

[For example: ugly as a two-headed baby turkey]

Day 2
Complete the following as a metaphor:
• The moon is…

[For example: The moon is a lighthouse guiding the earth on its nightly journey.]

Day 3
Change the verbs in this group of sentences into STRONG VERBS:
• Randy was eating pizza. James was eating chips. Kelly was drinking a milkshake.
[For example: Randy was chomping pizza.….]

Day 4
Describe your morning routine using exciting, strong verbs.

[For example: I jump out of bed, thunder downstairs, and skid into the kitchen, searching frantically for my breakfast. ]

Have fun with this week's lesson!

Missed the previous weeks? Click on the links below for the whole WordSmithery experience!
Click here for Assignment #1: Introduction and Journals
Click here for Assignment #2: Introduction to Creative Writing, Featuring Good Words
Click here for Assignment #3: Using Powerful Words to Create More Interesting Writing
Click here for Assignment #4: Similes

All material on the page copyright 2009, Sarah Small.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sarah!

    Did I tell you I am teaching this class again? I have used this and my past classes along with any other ideas that I could find, to make a 28 week curriculum that is going beautifully so far! I just wanted to let you know that this has been such an inspiration for me and my kids. We just love your lessons and I have learned so much about teaching creative writing from you!


    Val in the Rose Garden


I love comments! Thanks for taking the time to leave one. I have comment moderation on, so your comment will take a little bit to appear.