Figurative Language Lesson for Kids: Definition & Examples

Instructor: Shelley Vessels

Shelley has taught at the middle school level for 10 years and has a master's degree in teaching English.

Figurative language makes writing spicy! This lesson focuses on many types of figurative language and gives you some fun examples so you can write your own!

What Makes Writing Interesting?

Do you ever pause after reading something and think, 'Wow, that was a really cool way to say that?' If you've ever had that thought, you might have come across figurative language. Figurative language is a special form of writing that makes interesting comparisons to allow the reader to think about a topic in a new way. Once you learn more about figurative language, you will be able to recognize it in stories, poems, and even songs!

The Main Types of Figurative Language

1. Simile - a comparison of two things using the words 'like' or 'as'.

  • After a long day at the beach, my skin was as red as a tomato.

Was the skin actually that red? No, it wasn't, but by comparing it to a tomato, the reader gets a strong visual image of the sunburn.

  • After not exercising for a couple weeks, the short jog was like a marathon.

What is the message here? Running a marathon is an incredibly challenging thing, even for trained athletes. So by comparing the short jog to a marathon, the message is that the jog was extremely difficult.

2. Metaphor - comparison of two things without using the words 'like' or 'as'

  • The child is a ray of sunshine.

Of course, the child isn't actually a flaming ball of gas, so what could it mean? Since sunshine is always a treat; it warms us up and brightens our moods. If the child is being compared to the sun, the child makes us feel good and brightens days.

  • My brother is the clown of the family.

Do you think the brother walks around in clown shoes? Probably not! By comparing the brother to a clown, it's saying that he is the silliest family member.

3. Personification - gives human qualities to non-human things.

  • The tall trees danced during the storm.

Did the trees do the cha-cha? No! This example gives a visual to the reader that the trees swayed, almost as if to a beat.

  • The angry seas made the boat rescue nearly impossible.

Humans can get angry, but can the ocean? No. If you picture 'angry seas,' what do you see? Do you picture high seas and big waves? By comparing the seas to having an angry mood, the writer can create a strong visual.

4. Hyperbole - an extreme exaggeration

  • Susannah stayed up all night doing homework.

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