Activity Overview

Idiomatic expressions are very difficult to learn in other languages because they often do not translate well to one's native language. This activity is designed to help English Language Learners learn, practice and memorize a variety of idioms while allowing them to demonstrate their meaning in context using a storyboard! In this activity, students will define and illustrate different idioms. Teachers may choose to divide a list of idioms amongst the class, and can ask students to illustrate anywhere between 2 and 10!

Examples of Common Idioms in English

A blessing in disguise: a good thing that seemed bad at first

A dime a dozen: Something common

A penny for your thoughts: Tell me what you're thinking

A picture is worth 1000 words: Better to show than tell

Actions speak louder than words: Believe what people do and not what they say

Barking up the wrong tree: To be mistaken, to be looking for solutions in the wrong place

Beat around the bush: Avoid saying what you mean, usually because it is uncomfortable

Better late than never: Better to arrive late than not to come at all; or, better to do something late than not to do it at all

Bite the bullet: To get something over with because it is inevitable

Break a leg: Good luck

Break the ice: Make people feel more comfortable

Call it a day: Stop working on something

Costs an arm and a leg: Very expensive

Cut somebody some slack: Don't be so critical

Cutting corners: Doing something poorly in order to save time or money

Do something at the drop of a hat: Do something without having planned beforehand

Don't cry over spilt/spilled milk: There's no use in worrying over past events which cannot be changed

Easy does it: Slow down

Get out of hand: Get out of control

Get something out of your system: Do the thing you've been wanting to do so you can move on

Get your act together: Work better or leave

Get wind of something :Hear news of something secret

Give someone the benefit of the doubt: Trust what someone says

Go back to the drawing board: Start over

Hang in there: Don't give up

Hit the sack: Go to sleep

It's not rocket science: It's not complicated

Let someone off the hook: To not hold someone responsible for something

Make a long story short: Tell something briefly

Miss the boat: It's too late

No pain, no gain: You have to work for what you want

On cloud nine: Very happy

On the ball: Doing a good job

Pull someone's leg: To joke with someone

Pull yourself together: Calm down

Speak of the devil: The person we were just talking about showed up!

That's the last straw: My patience has run out

The best of both worlds: An ideal situation

Time flies when you're having fun: You don't notice how long something lasts when it's fun

Under the weather: Sick

We see eye to eye: We agree

We'll cross that bridge when we come to it: Let's not talk about that problem right now

When it rains it pours: Everything is going wrong at once

Wrap your head (or mind) around something: Understand something complicated

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Due Date:

Objective: Create a chart that identifies, defines, and illustrates idioms.

Student Instructions:

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Choose 5 idioms / idiomatic expressions in English.
  3. Write the idiom in the first column.
  4. Add the definition / meaning in the second column.
  5. Create an illustration that demonstrates the meaning of the expression in the third column.
  6. Save and exit when you're done.

Lesson Plan Reference

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/W/3/6] With guidance and support from adults, use technology to produce and publish writing (using keyboarding skills) as well as to interact and collaborate with others.
  • [ELA-Literacy/L/3/3] Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.
  • [ELA-Literacy/L/3/5] Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships and nuances in word meanings.
  • [ELA-Literacy/L/4/5] Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.


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