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Lesson Plan

Onomatopoeia: A Figurative Language Minilesson

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Onomatopoeia: A Figurative Language Minilesson

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Minilesson
Estimated Time 50 minutes
Lesson Author

Traci Gardner

Traci Gardner

Blacksburg, Virginia


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



Students are introduced to the literary device of onomatopoeia and explore how the technique adds to a writer's message. Students brainstorm a list of onomatopoeic words and then find examples of the technique in Edgar Allan Poe's poem, “The Bells.” Once they find examples, students reflect on how the onomatopoeic words add to the poem and the writer's message. They then apply their knowledge of the technique by choosing sound words in response to sounds they hear in an online tool. Following the lesson, students can look for additional examples of the literary device in their reading or look for places to add onomatopoeia to their writing.

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Exploring Onomatopoeia Worksheet: Students can use this chart to record specific text references for onomatopoeic words, as well as an analysis of the purpose of that word in the poem.

Exploring Onomatopoeia Interactive: Students can use this online tool to listen to sounds and list onomatopoeic words in response.

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In his analysis of exemplary writing by first year college students, Derek Soles considers expert opinions on the use of figurative language. He cites opinions that selective and effective use of figurative language is important in good writing. For example: "Fulwiler and Hayakawa, similarly, advise their readers to use figurative language, 'not for ornament or embellishment, but to help readers understand your meaning' (449)."

This lesson uses the mini-lesson format to explicitly teach one technique of figurative language at a time when it best serves students' needs. Kylene Beers explains the technique of mini-lessons in her When Kids Can't Read, What Teachers Can Do: A Guide for Teachers 6-12: "Minilessons are short (as little as five minutes or as much as fifteen minutes), focused lessons that can be delivered to the entire class or a portion of the class. The purpose of the minilesson is to clarify something or to provide information about something that students need to be applying in that day's work." (58)

Further Reading

Beers, Kylene. When Kids Can't Read What Teachers Can Do: A Guide for Teachers 6-12. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2003.


Soles, Derek. "An Analysis of the Style of Exemplary First-Year Writing." Teaching English in the Two-Year College 33.1 (September 2005): 38-49.

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