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Say It/Search It/Map It

Students identify local or familial metaphors or clichés, conduct research to learn where the phrases came from and create a map plotting the sayings' origins.

PROCESS:

  1. As a class, discuss the difference between a metaphor and a cliché. (A metaphor is a figure of speech that identifies something as being the same as or similar to something else. A cliché is a saying that often starts out as a smart remark but quickly becomes so overused that it's no longer catchy or even interesting.)
  2. Point out that sayings like these are common in the English language. Although it might not be easy to figure out how or where the sayings began, tracing their roots could be an enlightening experience. For example, is there a direct link between the phrases people use and where their ancestors came from? Why are some sayings only used in certain geographic regions? Why are some sayings interpreted differently from one region to the next?
  3. As a class, identify effective ways to learn how and where sayings began. For example, students could conduct research online, interview a family member or talk with another knowledgeable source in the community. 
  4. Instruct students to identify local or familial metaphors or clichés they've heard. Give them time to conduct research. Challenge students to identify the origins of one or more sayings. 

ASSESSMENT: 

Display a world map. Provide sticky notes and have students write one saying on each note. As students present their findings, encourage them to post their notes to identify the best-known origin of each saying. Analyze the results to determine what they reveal about the people living in your community.

CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:     

Grades 3-4:
Have students complete the project in small groups. Encourage groups to do their best to identify the origins of one metaphor or one cliché. Provide assistance as students complete their research. 

Grades 5-6:
Have students complete the project in small groups. Encourage groups to do their best to identify the origins of one metaphor and one cliché. Challenge groups to identify logical links that explain what each saying means.

Grades 7-8:
Have students complete the project with a partner. Instruct each pair to identify the origins of one metaphor and one cliché. Challenge students to pinpoint where each saying is used and give examples of how its meaning varies from one culture or region to another.

Grades 9-10:
Have students complete the project with a partner. Instruct each pair to identify the origins of two metaphors and two clichés. Instruct students to pinpoint where each saying is used and give examples of how its meaning varies from one family, culture or region to another. Challenge them to explain why the meanings change.