Book of the Week: In a Pickle: And Other Funny Idioms

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There are a ton of great books out there for teaching nonliteral language! This week I’m featuring In a Pickle: And Other Funny Idioms. Grab a copy of the book here

Author: Marvin Terban
Illustrator: Guilio Maestro
Publisher: Sandpiper, 2007
Paperback, 64 pages

Uses in Therapy:
As caveat: I've provided more ways use this book than I think you should actually try to cram into one session! It would work better over a series of a couple days. Even if you have longer session lengths, I think more repetition is always better than overwhelming the students.

  •  Create an "Idiom Wall" to add to as you read the book (and throughout the year!). Put it on a poster board or use masking tape to make a quick chart with three columns and the headings: Idiom, Literal Meaning (picture), What It Really Means (used in a “showing sentence”).
  •  Print my Idiom Worksheet for classwork/homework. Be sure to print double-sided (long-edge binding). Cut the horizontal lines on the right side of the page in to the vertical centerline. Then fold the right edge to the center so the drawing is now next to the definition. It will look like this when it is cut and folded properly:

Introduce the students to idioms by stating common expressions: “raining cats and dogs,” “stole my idea,” “butterflies in my stomach.” Encourage student to think about these phrases - 
  • “Are there really butterflies flying around in your stomach?”
  • "No? Then what does “butterflies in my stomach” really mean?"
  • "When would you say, ‘I have butterflies in my stomach’?”
Have the students brainstorm their own definition of an “idiom.” After the students have been given some time to brainstorm, tell them the definition of an idiom:
  • A common phrase that means something different than what it says.
Ask the students to brainstorm other idioms they might have heard -
  • "Who can tell me an idiom they have heard before?" 
  • "Have you ever heard your parents or teachers use idioms?”
  • "Have you heard idioms used in television programs or movies?” 

Read: In a Pickle: And Other Funny Idioms.
After reading each page, ask the students, “What does this really mean?” Prompt them to think of when they could use that phrase, and assist them in creating “showing sentences” to elucidate the meaning. Assign each student one idiom to add to the wall after reading In a Pickle: And Other Funny Idioms.

Pull up the ReadWriteThink webpage and introduce students to the interactive idiom resource. In this activity, students will complete the sentence by choosing the proper idiom from a drop down list, write the metaphorical meaning of the idiom, and provide another sentence using the expression.

Introduce homework:
Find my homework sheet here - instructions for use are in the Set-up section at the top of this page. The first idiom is completed for the students. I recommend completing another example as a group, then assigning the additional three for homework. You could assign the students different idioms or leave the space blank for them to come up with their own at home. Provide this resource if you want the students to find their own idioms. 

Guide students through this website, highlighting a few of the idioms.  The format of the presentation of idioms reflects what the students will need to do for their homework activity: create a drawing that reflects the literal meaning, and a “showing sentence” that define the expression by using context. All of the illustrations are student-created.

Incentivize the students to bring back their homework by letting them know that their work will be added to the “Idiom Wall” for everyone to see! (To display, copy each side of the completed homework and cut components apart to put on the wall). To extend the lesson, use the completed homework pages as a starting point in your next session.

Refer to this site for a nice lesson that also uses In a Pickle: And Other Funny Idioms, and includes additional lessons for similes and metaphors. 

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