Resources for Teaching Children About Idioms

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How to Teach Your Kids about IdiomsTeaching children about idioms beyond an explanation every time one comes up can be challenging but it is a necessary life skill.

One could argue that the study of idioms falls under the umbrella of the three R’s, but in reality, idioms are generally taught—if at all—only haphazardly in regular language arts curriculum.

Yet understanding idioms is so important. And it’s not because our children need to be taught how to use idioms in their daily speech; idioms are in such great use by society in general that the ability to understand idioms is essential to being able to comprehend the meaning of what is being communicated.

So, how do you teach idioms?

Obviously, if you’re “on your toes” throughout your homeschooling day, you can just explain idioms as they appear in daily speech, on television, or in books. But if you’d like a more formal approach, here are some resources you might find useful.

1. Get a copy of Scholastic’s Dictionary of Idioms by Marvin Terban. This is a great little text that is written on a kid’s level. It explains more than 600 phrases, sayings, and expressions, the vast majority of which are in everyday usage, not obsolete idioms. This book does a really good job explaining the meaning as well as the origin of each idiom.

2. Have your kids take an idiom self-test. You might start with this idiom test about animals, but there are dozens more to choose from. At the top of each self-test your child can review the meaning of each idiom.Utilize these interactive sites, which have idiom games and learning activities that your kids can do on their own.

3. Play some fun, interactive idiom games. You can find a variety of idiom-related activities at FunBrain, Eye on Idioms, and Quiz Tree.

4. Discuss cartoons about idioms. This English as a second language site has quite a few cartoons illustrating idioms such as this one about "get a grip." You and your children might enjoy talking about the meanings of the idioms illustrated in the Idiom of the Day cartoons.

5. Read & discuss some idiom-filled books together. One series of books that has a plethora of idioms is A Series of Unfortunate Events. While the stories may be a bit too macabre for some families, I found the series to be quite educational in terms of language and vocabulary (and quite amusing too!)

Do you have any other favorite idiom-related resources you'd like to share?

Cartoon by Andertoons
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