Poetic Device Activities for High School


Poetic devices are important for students to understand, because they make difficult concepts more easily grasped in both poetry and prose. Classroom activities can help high school students learn these concepts more quickly than by reading about them or listening to a lecture. Drama, drawing, and class discussions are all integral to sensory learning for high school students. The most common poetic devices: hyperbole, personification, idioms and metaphor, lend themselves easily to these activities.


  • Idioms are phrases that have both a literal and figurative meaning, but a reader understands the figurative. To practice idioms, you can distribute a paper to each student with a one-line idiom typed at the bottom. Students then draw the literal meaning of the idiom, which can lead to a class discussion of literal and figurative meanings. Examples include "I cried my eyeballs out" or "The advice went in one ear and out the other."


  • Personification gives human qualities to inanimate objects and is a poetic device used to evoke clear imagery. Brainstorming a list of nouns, such as "tree," "motorcycle," "pen" and "water," students can choose strong vivid verbs usually associated with people. This list could include words like "laugh," "strike," "covet" and "sob." Students can mix and match the lists to create their own vivid examples of personification.

Metaphors and Similes

  • A metaphor is a comparison of two unlike things and a simile is a more specific type of comparison using "like" or "as." The teacher or students can bring in pictures of concrete objects or draw them. Students can work in small groups, mixing and matching the pictures. For example, a student with a picture of a pirahna might write "My sister is a pirahna." Students could explain to the group what traits the sister and the pirahna share.


  • Hyperbole is outlandish exaggeration to make a point. Students can pair up to understand this concept. Each student starts with a piece of paper and a list of adjectives such as "big", "hungry" and "dark." As a pair, they can determine the end of the exaggeration and act out the hyperbole. For instance, the pair could dramatize "I am as hungry as a horse" or "I am as big as a house."

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