Fun & Easy Ways to Teach Idioms, Proverbs, and Adages

Common Core brought with it many standards that teachers had little to no resources for. L.4.5b was one of them for me. In the past, I had briefly covered idioms (usually around St. Patrick’s Day) but I had never taught proverbs and adages. Honestly, I had no clue what an adage was. Once I familiarized myself with this standard I thought, “Wow, this is going to be really fun!” 

Recognizing and explaining the meaning of common idioms, adages, and proverbs seemed like an easy lesson to teach. While introducing idioms to my 4th graders, I was quickly surprised by how many they actually knew. Hands were going up everywhere, and I was impressed by how many expressions they were able to recall. In the back of my mind, I thought this would be a quick lesson and we could move on.

What I didn’t know at the time was that just because they knew of and had heard many of these expressions didn’t mean they understood the meaning behind them. Making connections between similar idioms was a challenge for them – especially when the meaning wasn’t clear. I knew we were nowhere near ready for proverbs and adages.

I went home that night and searched the internet for lesson plans, worksheets, games… any sort of activity that I thought might help me teach this standard. There are tons of websites with lists of idioms, proverbs, and adages – along with their meanings. I found a few online games, but nothing that would help my students practice using these expressions while identifying the meanings behind them.

So, what did I do? You guessed it. I made my own.

Idioms, Proverbs, & Adages Lessons & Practice Sheets

Idioms, Proverbs, and Adages Worksheets - Kim Miller - A Love of Teaching

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These were actually really fun lessons to make! I loved finding funny idioms, wise proverbs, and old adages. I realized that proverbs and adages are so closely related that it’s actually really hard to tell them apart. 

Students used www.idiomsite.com and idiomcorner.com to check their work and search for the meanings of idioms that they weren’t sure about.

This resource is aligned to L.4.5b and L.5.5b – Recognize and explain the meaning of common idioms, adages, and proverbs.  

As I mentioned before, my first thought at this standard was, “What in the world are adages?”  After a little research, I quickly found that adage is just a fancy word for proverb.  I finally found a small distinguishing factor that helped me separate the two (slightly). 

proverb: a short, traditional, and pithy saying; a concise sentence, typically metaphorical or alliterative in form, stating a general truth or piece of advice; an adage.

adage: a proverb or short statement expressing a general truth.  They have been repeated over time – usually as reminders.

Efforts are made to draw a distinction between proverb and adage, but in common usage, the words are interchangeable. There may be a sense that adage is a classier word than proverb. ~dailywritingtips.com

I wasn’t done teaching this standard though.

My students needed more work on identifying the meaning and making connections between idioms, proverbs, and adages. So, I created task cards with clues to meanings and practice with identifying the meanings. I used these in my reading center and they worked perfectly!

Idioms, Proverbs, and Adages Task Cards

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These 32 fun task cards help students identify idioms, proverbs, and adages found in a text. They include context clues that assist students in describing the meaning behind each idiom, proverb, and adage.

These two resources made teaching idioms, proverbs, and adages so much easier! It really helped me as a teacher better understand the differences between the three.

Plus, students were able to easily find and identify the meanings of these expressions after practicing only a few times.

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idioms proverbs and adages teaching tips and ideas

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