Explaining Idioms: Elementary Level Lesson Plan

Grades 4-6 Language Arts

Teacher reading aloud to girls
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With this lesson plan on explaining idioms, students will be able to: 

  • Recognize and understand the meaning of idioms.
  • Create their own idioms and illustrate the meaning.
  • Appreciate and value the use of idioms.


  • Resource: Amelia Bedelia, by Peggy Parish
  • Chart of Amelia's idioms
  • Two already prepared idiom booklets
  • Other: construction paper 9 x 11, white paper 5x8, glue, markers


  1. Read "Amelia Bedelia," by Peggy Parish to the students. Point out the idiom phrases without saying the word idiom. For example, "What does Amelia do when the things to list said to change the towels in the bathroom?" Did Mrs. Rogers want Amelia to physically change the towels?
  2. After reading the book, ask the children if they could recall any other silly phrases like "change the towels" from Amelia's list.
  3. Then take out an already made chart with "Amelia's Things to Do" idioms listed. Go through each idiom and discuss the meanings to the expressions.
  4. From this, elicit the aim from the students. "From looking at this list, what do you think we are going to talk about today? What are these expressions called?" Tell students that we call these types of phrases idioms. Idioms are phrases or expressions that have hidden meanings. The expressions don't mean exactly what the words say.


  1. "Who can think of any other idioms that you’ve heard before?" Write the word idioms with a circle around it on the chalkboard. Make a web of the students' idioms around the word. Have the children explain the literal and non-literal meaning of the idiom while you write the phrases on the board. Ask each student to put his or her idiom in a sentence so that the rest of the class can understand the meaning.
  2. After there are many phrases on the board, hold up one of the idiom booklets and ask the students if they can guess what the idiom is from looking at the illustration. After they have guessed the idiom, open it up and show them the phrase and the meaning written inside. When showing the idiom "It's raining cats and dogs," read the idioms origin from "Mad As A Wet Hen!," by Marvin Terban. Explain that some idioms have explanations. Post this on the board and then do the same for the other idiom booklet.
  3. Tell the students to pick their favorite idiom but they can not tell their neighbor what idiom they have chosen. Give each student a white sheet of 5x8 white paper. Tell them to illustrate their favorite idiom. Refer to when Amelia was told to draw the drapes. She physically drew the drapes. Also, recall the idioms in their daily reading of "Dear Mr. Henshaw." For example ask, where did you hear the phrase, "Dad ran up a high bill."
  4. After they are finished, give out construction paper 9 x 11 and tell students to fold the paper in half width-wise as the idiom booklet that was shown. Tell them to glue illustration on the front by only placing a drop of glue in each corner so that their picture will not be ruined.
  5. Tell the students to write the idiom and its' hidden meaning inside the booklet. After they have completed their idiom booklets, have students come up to the front of the class and show their illustration. The other students will try and guess the idiom.


To complete the worksheet on idiom phrases.


The students listened to the different idioms heard in the story Amelia Bedelia. The students thought of their own idioms and illustrated them. The students shared their work with the other students.

Follow-up: Students will look for idioms in their independent reading books and share them with the class the following day. They will also add their idioms to the idiom chart.

Here is an example of a worksheet:

Name: _____________________ Date:___________

Idioms can be the most confusing part of any language. Idioms are sayings that have hidden meanings. The expressions don't mean exactly what the words say. Mad As A Wet Hen!, by Marvin Terben

Write the meaning to the following idiom expressions.

  1. That's the way the cookie crumbles.
  2. He spilled the beans.
  3. She's the apple of his eye.
  4. The students in Class 4-420 are going bananas.
  5. He's feeling blue today.
  6. You're walking on thin ice mister!
  7. Uh, oh. We're in hot water now.
  8. You'd better hold your tongue and button your lip.
  9. Mrs. Seigel has eyes in the back of her head.
  10. Something’s fishy here.

Looking for more ideas? Here are some activities to increase students' vocabulary.

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Your Citation
Rizzo, Rosanna. "Explaining Idioms: Elementary Level Lesson Plan." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, thoughtco.com/what-are-idioms-2081076. Rizzo, Rosanna. (2020, August 26). Explaining Idioms: Elementary Level Lesson Plan. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-are-idioms-2081076 Rizzo, Rosanna. "Explaining Idioms: Elementary Level Lesson Plan." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-are-idioms-2081076 (accessed June 13, 2021).