Musical Metaphors

or Searching for Similes in Songs or Finding Figurative Language in Lyrics

(I love alliterations)

Here’s the game and here’s why it is so fun: It’s an educational scavenger hunt using songs you like (or you can be nice and pick songs the students like). It honestly doesn’t matter. Teens love music. It helps them see that poetry is cool. It is useful. It is everywhere. You can quickly see where they are with their understanding of figurative language and it is super easy to build upon. You can probably find enough songs for this to work on your own playlist so you don’t have to buy any new music, just try to pay attention when you’re jamming out to your own tunes… What I do is I tell the students to get ready, they are going to listen for similes and metaphors (you can add symbolism, hyperbole, onomatopoeias, alliterations, etc.). When they hear one, they need to write down as much of it as possible as quickly as possible. The person with the most CORRECT similes and metaphors at the end of the game wins. (They can just “win” or you can give them something if you’re nice… like a tootsie roll) Don’t play the whole song. Play 30 seconds at most and move on. You can just play a bunch of songs and see who has the most, or stop after each song and go over what they found. However, the lesson shouldn’t end there.

Here are some ideas to expand on it:

IDEA #1: Have them pick their favorite and write what they think it means. Why did the artist include that simile/metaphor/hyperbole?

IDEA #2: Have them expand on one of the metaphors and write an extended metaphor.

IDEA #3: Have them create their own using the similes and metaphors they wrote down as a framework.

IDEA #4: Have them create an entire poem based off one of the similes or metaphors they found.

IDEA #5: Have them return to class next time with a new simile or metaphor they found while listening to their tunes.

SONG IDEAS (please comment if you have any good ones! I’m always looking for more.):

1. “Titanium” by David Guetta

2. “Like Red on a Rose” by Alan Jackson

3. “Oh Love” by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood

4. “Grillz” by Nelly (edited version, obviously, but seriously there is some great figurative language in that one)

5. “Airplanes” by B.O.B

6. “What is it?” by Baby Bash (how brave are you?)

7. “Falling for the First Time” by Barenaked Ladies

8. “A Hard Day’s Night” by The Beatles

9. “Islands in the Stream” by BeeGees or Dolly Parton

10. “Like a Rock” by Bob Seger


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