Lesson Plan

Introducing Metaphors Through Poetry

Celebrated American poet Maya Angelou
Photo caption

Celebrated American poet Maya Angelou makes extensive use of metaphors in her poetry.

Metaphors are used often in literature, appearing in every genre from poetry to prose and from essays to epics. Utilized by poets and novelists to bring their literary imagery to life, metaphors are an important component of reading closely and appreciating literature. This lesson plan can be taught in conjunction with the EDSITEment lesson plan: Recognizing Similes: Fast as a Whip, which will help students recognize both metaphors and similes, and to distinguish the often confused elements from each other. In this lesson students will read excerpts from the work of Langston Hughes, Margaret Atwood, and Naomi Shihab Nye in order to gain a deeper understanding of metaphors.

Many students begin to learn about metaphors well before entering high school. This lesson assumes that students will have a basic understanding of what metaphors are; however it is designed to help students begin to engage with metaphors on a deeper and more abstract level. The lesson will begin with a poem containing metaphors accessible at all levels, and with each poem the lesson will progress in difficulty, so that teachers will find material to suit their classes at all skill levels.

Guiding Questions

What are metaphors and how are they used in literature?

What makes a metaphor effective?

Learning Objectives

Define and identify examples of metaphors.

Read and analyze the metaphors used in poetry by Langston Hughes, Margaret Atwood, Naomi Shihab Nye, and others.

Create their own metaphors and apply this tool to their own writing projects.