Metaphor Examples for kids can sometimes be very confusing. And, for many parents and even some teachers, getting kids to actually grasp them can be difficult. We understand how tough it can be, but no fear. We have gathered some really clear, understandable examples of metaphors for kids that will save the day.
The ability to use and understand metaphors can significantly increase your kid’s enjoyment of reading. In this list, you’ll find metaphor examples for kids to understand, so that they can begin to understand how metaphor works. However, before you begin reading through these metaphors together with your child, take a moment–explain what a metaphor is.
A metaphor is a fancy word for a type of comparison. There are several kinds of comparisons; a metaphor compares without using “like” or “as.” Learning how to spot each one can help your child better understand a metaphor when she comes across one.
10 Metaphor Examples for Kids
1. Comparing Animals and Humans
Comparing humans and animals is a common type of metaphor. However, since this type of comparison is also in similes, it’s important to remember that a simile does use “like” or “as.”
A metaphor using an animal comparison might read something like:
He tried to tame his wild mane of hair.
What animal has a mane of hair? A lion. This metaphor compares a human to a lion.
2. Using Metaphor to Compare Weather and Food
Have you ever heard anyone say that “the fog was pea soup?” We all generally know that pea soup does not form clouds that hover right above the ground. But anyone who has eaten a good pea soup knows that it’s thick and hard to see through–and the fog in this example is the same.
This metaphor wouldn’t be as useful if it read “the fog was chicken broth” because broth is mostly clear.
3. Water and Mirrors
The lake was an endless mirror.
Metaphor examples for kids like this one compare water to mirrors on two levels. First, the text could go on to say that something is reflected on the water’s surface. Second, we are meant to understand that the water is still, like the glass surface of a mirror. It’s not choppy, or full of ripples–it’s smooth and calm.
4. Animals and Instrument
How would you say an elephant sounds?
The elephant let out a trumpet blast.
Does this mean the elephant is actually playing a trumpet? No–rather, it means that the elephant is making a loud noise that sounds like it could be made by a trumpet. Animal-instrument metaphors can help kids not only understand how to use metaphors but also how different animals sound.
5. Temperature Metaphors
Have you ever bitten into a piece of a pizza right out of the oven? You might warn your child:
Be careful – this pizza is lava!
Your child can look at the pizza and know that you don’t mean that it is actually molten rock–who would want to eat that? Rather, your child understands that you mean the pizza is very hot and that he should wait before eating it.
6. The Nose Knows
Our sense of smell is not only one of the strongest of the five senses, but it’s the most powerful of the senses where memories are concerned. Beyond that, it’s a great way to use a metaphor. If your kid says, “This homework stinks!” then it’s a great opportunity to teach her that she is using a metaphor of smell…unless she packed her homework with handfuls of garlic.
7. Strength and Size
Size can be a great way to create a metaphor.
He had tree trunks for arms.
Now, maybe this is in reference to the Ents from Lord of the Rings, in which case it can be quite literal. Chances are though that this is a metaphor to express size. What characters might be described as having tree-trunk arms? Pop-Eye? Drax from “Guardians of the Galaxy?” (The latter cannot, in fact, understand metaphor – maybe he should read this list!).
8. Clean Your Room
Have you ever told your child that they needed to clean their room? That “there are mountains of clothes all over the floor” that need to be tidied? Mountains are way too large to fit into a child’s bedroom–or an adult’s for that matter. But your child understands that you mean the piles of clothes are too big to be tolerated. (Bonus: This is also a great example of hyperbole, which is basically an exaggeration.)
9. Time Comparisons
We measure everything by time, why not utilize it in metaphor? “He was a snail behind the wheel” means that he drove slowly…but not just slowly–painfully slow. Kids understand that snails aren’t known for their speed (we’re not talking about the Disney snail, Turbo).
Conversely, a metaphor can use a faster animal – or even something like a rocket ship. Be careful with this one though; it can be tempting to use simile instead of metaphor!
10. Metaphors with Taste
Just as with smell, we can use taste to create metaphors. “The baseball game resulted in bitter defeat.” How does defeat actually taste? We don’t know because it’s not food, but it’s easy to imagine it tasting bitter. Bitter — especially for children — is often an unpleasant flavor, so they understand that whichever team lost the baseball game is unhappy about it.
On the flip side, we might say that, for the other team, the game resulted in “sweet victory.”
Why bother using a metaphor at all? Why not simply say that fog was thick or the team was disappointed to lose their game? Well, both of those effectively communicate, but there’s nothing special about either of those expressions. There’s nothing unique. The English language is special because it includes a nearly infinite way to describe, through the use of comparison structures like the metaphor.
Every author is original, as is every reader, and each time a new expression of comparison is created or experienced, it enhances not only our vocabulary, but also our enjoyment of literature–no matter how old we are. What metaphors can your child now find in her latest book? Did you and your child enjoy these metaphor examples? If you know other parents whose kids will better understand how to use and understand metaphors after reading these examples, why not spread the word on Facebook?
Images taken from depositphotos.com.