Understand Figurative Language By Using Idioms Outdoors
When I think about figurative language and idioms, I immediately think of Amelia Bedelia and all the things she did literally rather than as intended because she didn't understand figurative language. This made me think of how often we speak literally and what it must be like for those who are new to the English language. They must think we are completely crazy at times.
As I was thinking about using this form in speaking and writing, I thought it might be fun to actually take things a bit further. Imagine pretending to be Amelia Bedelia and acting out the idioms literally. This could be a lot of fun for the kids and it would help them to better understand what we mean and what the literal translation would be for others.
In Amelia Bedelia, Mrs. Rogers tells Amelia to "do just what the list says". This will be the message used for the following examples and activities. Have fun trying any or all of them out.
After trying out some of the examples, do a follow up activity where you discuss the literal meanings of the phrases and how they were different from what was meant in the stories.
Good Work, Amelia Bedelia
Mr. Rogers was angry and he said, "Go fly a kite". Amelia Bedelia was confused, but she did so.What did he really mean?
Have a kite available and then in an angry voice say "GO FLY A KITE!" Have someone go and fly the kite.
Mrs. Rogers left a list of jobs for Amelia to do. One of the jobs was to "pot the window-box plants". What did she really mean?
Have a pot or two available along with some soil and hand shovels and let kids put some plants in them.
Teach Us, Amelia Bedelia
Amelia Bedelia filled in for the teacher while she was away. She was given a list of instructions to follow. Here are a couple that could be done outdoors.
"Plant a bulb".
Have some plant pots and soil available along with shovels and some old light bulbs. Have the kids prepare the pots and add the light bulbs to them. If you have a garden bed, perhaps they could plant the light bulbs there instead. Afterwards, these lightbulbs can be replaced with flower bulbs.
"Practice our play"
This would be fun to do as an extra recess activity. Afterwards, the kids could actually rehearse a play they might be performing.
Math problems with apples would be fun to try outside, especially the subtraction ones.
Play Ball Amelia Bedelia
Right now is ball season, so many kids will be starting practices or playing ball as part of their gym classes. This would be a great time to have fun trying out a couple of the idioms from this book.
"Tag ________ before he gets to second base". Have some ready-made name tags and use them as the person runs from first to second base.
"Steal the base". If you have something that is the place holder for a base, you can have someone grab it and run with it.
"Run home." This one could be running back into the building.
This is only a small sampling of the activities that Amelia Bedelia did in the various books, but it is a fun way to see how literal and figurative language is different and get outside as well. It might be fun to try out some other activities that can be done in the classroom or at home as a follow-up activity.
I have created a follow-up activity for some of the different idioms listed above. Click the image to check it out.
I always had so much fun exploring idioms and other figurative language with my students. I hope you enjoy trying some of these ideas with your students.
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About Me Charlene Sequeira
I am a wife, mother of 4, grandmother of 9, and a retired primary and music teacher. I love working with kids and continue to volunteer at school and teach ukulele.