Activity Overview

The author uses many different types of figurative language throughout the story. Some examples of figurative language that are used are similes, metaphors, personification, idioms, and onomatopoeia. For this activity, students will identify and illustrate three examples of figurative language in Fish in a Tree. Teachers may want to give the students a list of examples, or have them do a “scavenger hunt” either as they read, or as an activity after reading.

Examples of Figurative Language from Fish in a Tree

  • Page 2: “Teachers are like the machines that take quarters for bouncy balls. You know what you’re going to get. Yet you don’t know, too.” (Simile)
  • Page 9: “I need attention like a fish needs a snorkel.” (Simile)
  • Page 12: “It’s like my chair is over a trapdoor and there is a button to drop myself.” (Simile)
  • Page 19: “Three words that hold sadness like a tree holds leaves.” (Simile)
  • Page 20: “Shay and Jessica stare at us like two cats watching birds in a cage.” (Simile)
  • Page 33: “The guy’s smile falls off of his face.” (Personification)
  • Page 38: “Everyone scrambles to their seats, but I’m still lying on the imaginary train tracks. All tied up and watching the engine come around the corner.” (Metaphor)
  • Page 40: “I turn myself to stone.” (Metaphor)
  • Page 84: “It’s like asking a blind man to drive a bus.” (Simile)
  • Page 134: “I stand and walk toward him like the floor will swallow me up.” (Personification)
  • Page 146: “I feel like a fish in a wire cage rather than a tank.” (Simile)
  • Page 151: “When Mr. Daniels looks in her direction, she stops like she has an on/off switch. When he looks away, she laughs at Albert again.” (Simile)
  • Page 187: “I try not to cry, I really do, but the tears leak from my eyes.” (Personification)
  • Page 191: “I realize that dealing with Shay everyday is like playing chess. She is always looking for your weakness, always trying to get you flustered and force you into a mistake. Against her, the board is always changing and moving. Keep your eyes open. Be careful.” (Simile)
  • Page 192: “But no matter what, don’t give up. Because, every once in a while, a pawn becomes a queen.” (Metaphor)

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Due Date:

Objective: Create a 3 cell storyboard, illustrating and describing three examples of figurative language in the text.

Student Instructions:

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Write the type of figurative language in the heading.
  3. Write the example and page number in the description box. In addition, write what the author is intending to say, or the literal meaning.
  4. Illustrate each example using scenes, characters, and items.
  5. Save and submit storyboard.

Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 6-8

Difficulty Level 2 (Reinforcing / Developing)

Type of Assignment Individual

Type of Activity: Figurative Language

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/6/4] Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/7/4] Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of rhymes and other repetitions of sounds (e.g., alliteration) on a specific verse or stanza of a poem or section of a story or drama


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Fish in a Tree

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