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What Are the Different Types of Metaphor Games?

By D. Coodin
Updated May 23, 2024
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Metaphor games are fun activities that help teach identification and usage of metaphors, which are implicit comparisons not using the words "like" or "as." Teachers often use metaphor games in the classroom to help their students practice using figurative language. Parents also can play some of these games at home with their children to enhance language skills at an early age. There are many different types of metaphor games that educators can draw on, including literature games, visual games and drama games.

Teachers sometimes find it effective to have their students generate their own metaphors as part of learning games. Teachers can compile lists of words appropriate to the age level of their students. An example of this type of word game would be to give students a word such as "fast." Students would then need to think of two different nouns that both share this quality and produce a metaphor, such as, "The girl was a cheetah when she ran" or "The days were airplanes moving forward."

Other types of metaphor games involve visualizing and drawing metaphors. In one of these games, a teacher could read a metaphor out loud and ask students to draw a picture of it. The advantage to these types of metaphor games is that it forces students to think visually about figures of speech, which is where metaphors draw their strength.

Along the same lines as visual metaphor games, some educators get their students to act out metaphors using improvisation. In this type of game, a teacher might get a student volunteer to come to the front of the room and have other students call out suggestions of objects or animals. The student at the front of the room would have to think of another object or animal that shares some characteristics with the first object and represent it through drama. The student who guesses the object or animal correctly would become the next volunteer at the front of the room.

Metaphor games also can involve literature, because metaphors are common features of literary writing and novels. For these types of metaphor games, teachers might ask students to identify all metaphors that they come across through their reading during a set period of time, such as a day or a week. Students might write each metaphor down as they find it and affix it to a designated area of the classroom wall. The student with the most metaphors at the end of the game would be declared the winner.

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Discussion Comments
By irontoenail — On May 23, 2014

@Mor - Even five year olds seem to be thrilled to get into discussions and debates about this kind of thing. Whenever I'm reading a story to my nephew I always ask him what he thought the author wanted him to think at this point or that point and how the words make him feel.

I do think there is also a place for simple games though. Comparing things doesn't always have to be an intellectual exercise. Sometimes it's just fun.

By Mor — On May 22, 2014

@bythewell - You have to make sure they understand that it is not being negative though. I think even adults have trouble with that. Picking something apart to understand the author's intentions isn't being mean.

You've got to draw a fine line between accepting all your students and their contributions and allowing them to analyze those contributions in a way that is fun and won't hurt anyone.

By bythewell — On May 21, 2014

When you're getting students to think of metaphors you need to figure out a way for them to know what a good metaphor and what a not so good metaphor might be. It's not enough to just say that comparing a fast girl to a cheetah makes sense and comparing her with, say, a sparrow doesn't make any sense.

In order to become good writers, they first have to become critical readers and they can practice that on each other (gently). When you compare the girl to the cheetah, does that mean anything in particular, aside from speed? What if you compared her to a striking hawk? Or a terrified rabbit? Then you get speed as well as other emotive connotations.

Kids can pick this stuff up and they love it, because it's like solving a puzzle. Make it into a game and they will start to do this kind of analysis all the time.

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