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Lesson Plan

Proverbs: At Home and around the World

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Proverbs: At Home and around the World

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

John Paul Walter

John Paul Walter

Washington, Washington DC


National Council of Teachers of English


Student Objectives

Session One: Exploring Proverbs from around the World

Sessions Two and Three: Exploring Proverbs and Home Cultures


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • learn about proverbs, how they work, and their cultural significance.

  • share, study, and interpret proverbs from around the world.

  • use the Internet to find proverbs.

  • find a proverb that rings true for them and explain its significance.

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Session One: Exploring Proverbs from around the World

  1. Explain to students or remind them what proverbs are and discuss the ideas that different cultures have different proverbs, that proverbs convey cultural knowledge and cultural values, and that proverbs will sometimes assume a familiarity with a culture the students may not know. (Refer to the Proverb Definitions handout if needed.)

  2. Distribute the Proverbs from around the World handout and read through it as a class, making sure everyone is familiar with the words in the proverbs. (They don’t need to understand what the proverb means at this point, just the words.)

  3. Break the class up into groups and ask each group to work through the proverbs, trying to decide what they mean and when they might be used. You might also ask them if they can think of an American proverb that has the same or similar meaning or that would be used in the same context.

  4. As a class, discuss the proverbs. Ask them how the proverbs are similar to common American proverbs and how they are different. What proverbs were difficult to decipher? What made them difficult?

  5. Distribute the Family Proverb handout, explain the instructions, and ask students to collect some family proverbs for homework.

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Sessions Two and Three: Exploring Proverbs and Home Cultures

  1. Ask students to share their family proverbs and explain the significance of those proverbs.

  2. Discuss the proverbs in terms of culture. Do students from similar cultural backgrounds have similar proverbs? Do students of widely different backgrounds have widely different proverbs (say, for instance African and East Asian)? What similarities are there between proverbs from different cultures?

  3. Ask the students to use the Websites listed in the Resources section to search proverbs from their cultural background. Proverbs by Country of Origin and CogWeb’s Proverb Resources are good sites to use.

  4. Have each student select one or two proverbs, making sure to note its cultural origins.

  5. Using arts and crafts materials, PowerPoint, or a word processor, have students create one or more mini-posters reflecting their cultural background. Each mini-poster should have the proverb and indicate which culture it is from.

  6. Have the students share their mini-posters with the class. Encourage them to discuss similarities and differences between proverbs and proverbs as reflections of culture. If possible, display the mini-posters in the classroom.

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  • This lesson can be followed up with the ReadWriteThink lesson “Proverbs: Contemporary Proverbs.”

  • Exploring Family Proverbs: Have each student choose one of their family proverbs or a proverb they found on the Web and write an essay about an occasion in which that proverb rang true or, alternatively, write a fable which illustrates the proverb.

  • Proverbs in Literature: As you explore literature from different cultures, ask your students to keep an eye out for proverbs. When you find them, discuss their significance to the text and the culture in which it is set.

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Session One

  • Observe the students as they present and discuss their proverbs. Are they interested and engaged with the discussion? Do their comments demonstrate a growing understanding of the material?

  • Observe the students’ thinking and involvement as they work in groups to discuss the proverbs. Are they interested and engaged? Are they making contributions? Working together to help each other learn?

Sessions Two and Three

  • Collect the Family Proverbs worksheet and check for completeness. Has the student gathered proverbs and explained their significance?

  • Observe the students as they use the Web to search for proverbs. How comfortable do they seem with navigating the sites and finding proverbs related to their cultural background?

  • Observe the students as they present on their family proverb. Are they able to explain the meaning of the proverb and its significance to their family? Pay particular attention to their ability to present information orally.

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