story by Lynn Priestley , illustrated by Anna Bron

Learning intention

I am learning to use figurative language so I can construct texts that allow my readers to connect with the emotions of the characters

Success criteria

  • I can reflect on how figurative language impacts connection to characters’ emotions.
  • I can compose examples of figurative language to express an emotion.
  • I can include figurative language in a description of a character.


Essential knowledge

Ensure students are aware that figurative language refers to a way of expressing meaning by using words in a non-literal way. Discuss examples such as, outside is an oven, it’s as cold as Antarctica and I am as hungry as a horse.


Focus question.

How does figurative language help us connect to the emotions of a character?


Prior to reading Hero, display the following table:

Describing emotions literally Emotions conveyed through figurative language
Sandi felt sad. Huge waves of sadness washed over Sandi, pulling at her stomach like lead weights.
Amit felt happy. Bubbles of happiness rippled along Amit's throat, making him feel like he would burst.

Discuss which of the descriptions allow readers to connect with the emotions of the characters best. Most likely students will conclude that the examples that feature figurative language create the most connection to characters.

Read Hero or listen to the audio version of the story. Identify examples of figurative language in the story. For each example, consider the emotion or the idea the figurative language is striving to convey. Answers have been provided:

What on Earth (Emotion: shock)

Softened like it did when she watched animal rescue shows (Emotion: pity)

It might as well have been freshly squeezed lemon juice (Idea: shock)

As deaf as a post (Idea: unable to hear)

Never miss a trick (Idea: astute/pays attention)

Reading my mind (Idea: thinking the same thought as each other)

The week flew by (Idea: time passed quickly)


List a number of emotions on the board. Instruct students to write these on slips of paper and to add their own ideas, for example: shock, excitement, horror, happiness, sadness.

Inform students that they will be playing a game of emotion snap. Model the game first, selecting one of the slips of paper with an emotion written on it, before composing an example of figurative language to covey the emotion. Display the following prompts to support students with composing figurative language:

  • What is the emotion you are trying to convey?
  • What is the most common idea you think of when you think of this emotion?
  • What might be a more creative way of conveying the emotion?
  • Use these ideas to compose your example of figurative language.


For example, if you select the emotion excitement, you could compose the sentence, I felt like a puppy, tail wagging, about to go outside for the first time.

Play a couple of rounds of emotion snap with students before instructing students to play the game in pairs/small groups.

Inform students that they will be using their examples of figurative language to create a description of a character. Tell them that they should decide on an event that has caused their character to feel the emotion. Discuss some of students’ responses and use these to compile a description of character together. For example:

Finally, it was the day of Andrew’s eleventh birthday party. He’d been waiting weeks for this day. Now it was finally here, he was like a puppy allowed to go outside for the first time. He felt excitement bubble at his chest, making it impossible to stand still. He buzzed about the kitchen like a bee, fussing with the decorations.

Instruct students to work in the same groups as previously to compose their own description of a character featuring some of the examples of figurative language they created when playing emotion snap.


Provide the students with the following exit slip question and instruct them to note their responses in their workbooks:

  • How does figurative language help us connect to the emotions of a character?


Close Reading Lesson: