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Understanding Idioms
Is a Piece of Cake



  • Arts & Humanities
    --Language Arts
    --Visual Arts


  • 3-5
  • 6-8
  • 9-12

Brief Description

Teaching about idioms can be great fun. Included: Idiom resources.



  • work cooperatively to discuss the meaning of some common English idioms.
  • illustrate the "fun" interpretations of those idioms.
  • use a fun online idiom activity (optional).


idiom, expression, idiomatic, language

Materials Needed

  • list of common English idioms (provided below)
  • art supplies (optional)
  • computer access (optional)

Lesson Plan

Before the Lesson
Create a student work sheet that has on it a list of grade-appropriate idiomatic expressions. A list of 50 idioms appears at the bottom of this lesson section. A great source for additional expressions is Dictionary of English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions.

The Lesson Arrange students into pairs or groups of three or four. Provide each student with a copy of the list. Have students talk about the meanings of the idioms. Then have students select ten idioms for which they will write good sentences. Students might work together with their partners/group members to write sentences; or you might have students in the group divide the list into sections with an equal number of idioms and then have each member write a sentence for their section of the idioms.

Set aside time for students to share their sentences.

Next, have each student chose one or two idioms to illustrate. Create a Class Book of Illustrated Idioms.

Finally, complete the It's Raining Cats and Dogs activity.

Additional Resource
If your students have computer access, share with them the fun resource below:
Self-Study Idiom Quizzes

Idiom List
The list below is a good starter list for students in the elementary grades. If you teach students in middle or high school you might include a few more difficult or uncommon idiomatic expressions from the Dictionary of English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions.

All ears
Ants in your pants
Arm and a leg
At the end of your rope
Axe to grind
Back to the drawing board
Barking up the wrong tree
Between the lines
Blood out of a stone
Blow your stack
Bone to pick
Bull in a China shop
By the skin of your teeth
Can of worms
Cold feet
Crash a party
Cry your eyes out
Don’t wash your dirty laundry in public
Down in the dumps
Eagle eyes
Elephant in the room
Feeling Blue
Fifth wheel
Fish out of water
Go round in circles

Grab the bull by its horns
Head is in the clouds
Heart of gold
Hook, line, and sinker
Horse of a different color
In the doghouse
It cost an arm and a leg
Jump the gun
Like a fish needs a bicycle
Make waves
Money talks
Opening a can of worms
Out on a limb
Piece of cake
Pull someone's leg
Pull your weight
Rock the boat
See the light
Stick out like a sore thumb
Tall story
Thrilled to bits
Walk on eggshells
Written all over your face
You can say that again


Have students read the idiom story and complete the idiom quiz at In Step With Idioms. They should correctly identify the meanings of at least 8 of the 10 idiomatic expressions in the idiom quiz.

Lesson Plan Source

Submitted By

Gary Hopkins

National Standards

NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
NL-ENG.K-12.3 Evaluation Strategies
NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

FINE ARTS: Visual Arts
NA-VA.K-4.3 Choosing and Evaluating A Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
NA-VA.K-4.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
GRADES 5 - 8
NA-VA.5-8.3 Choosing and Evaluating A Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
NA-VA.5-8.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
GRADES 9 - 12
NA-VA.9-12.3 Choosing and Evaluating A Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
NA-VA.9-12.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines

See more Lesson Plans of the Day in our Lesson Plan of the Day Archive. (There you can search for lessons by subject too.) For additional language arts/reading lesson plans, see these Education World resources:

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Originally published 01/24/2006
Last updated 04/24/2009