The Secret Life of Bees is rich with figurative language. This lesson introduces students to figurative language and specifically simile, metaphor and personification.

Group Size: Any

Learning Objectives:

• Understand the differences between literal and figurative language
• Identify similes, metaphor and personification in poetry and the novel
• Explain the purpose behind including the figurative language


Guiding Question:

What is the difference between literal and figurative language? Why do author’s use figurative language?


Figurative Language Graphic Organizer Copies of "Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou -


Do Now
• 5-minute journal write (6 – 8 line expectation) What is figurative language?
• Review student responses with random questioning.

• Distribute the figurative language organizer to students and define the differences between literal and figurative language with examples provided on the sheet. Take time to ensure students understand the vocabulary used and the differences.
• Introduce and define simile, metaphor and personification. Students will take notes on the chart provided. Using a poem have students identify examples of the figurative language in “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou and then write their own examples. Check for understanding with random questioning.
• Review and extend this step with further poems if you feel your students need more guidance.

Guided Practice
• Introduce the graphic organizer to students and explain the purpose of the assignment – to go beneath the surface to understand the meaning of figurative language.
• Review the poem “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou - a copy can be found at
• Read the fist two stanzas together and complete the organizer – see example below to use as a model:

Example TypeLiteral meaning
Images created by the words. Feelings created by the words. Purpose and meaning – what is the author saying?
"'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room"
She is walking like she is rich.
Oil wells produce images of money and power.
She isn’t just walking – she is strutting with confidence.
Pride, confidence, strength, wealth
The narrator is creating the feeling that she is strong and wealthywith the image of the rich, powerful oil wells. She is doing this tocontrast the others who want to put her down

Independent Practice

• Students can complete the organizer by analyzing two further examples of figurative language in the poem.
• This organizer must be checked for understanding.
• This assignment can be repeated if needed with other poems or pages/chapters from the novel.

Connection to The Novel

• While reading the novel, students should mark figurative language as they read. Teachers can do this in a number of ways; students can highlight the examples in the books and label the type in the margin, students can use post-it notes, or they can use a figurative language bookmark like the one provided at the following link:
• Once the students are confident with the figurative language organizer, this assignment can be used throughout the reading of the novel. Each novel exam has a figurative language section and, therefore, the organizer can be used as a review activity.


Figurative language portion of the weekly novel assessment

Attached Files:



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