Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8

In the BrainPOP ELL movie Egg on Your Face (L3U6L4), Moby is up to some strange behavior, from shaking his robot leg to zipping his robot lips, as he takes Ben’s expressions literally! In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades 3-8, students identify, illustrate, and explain the literal and figurative meaning of common idioms in listening, speaking, and writing activities.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Illustrate the literal and figurative meaning of an idiom.
  2. Match idioms with their figurative meanings.
  3. Identify and sort items according to their categories.


idiom, expression, literal, figurative, signal
snap, zip, button, tie


For Activity 2, Illustrate It, make copies of the Literal and Figurative Graphic Organizer.

For Activity 4, Idiom Match, make enough copies of the following sentence strips for each pair of students, and cut them out.

Shake a leg.
Get your head out of the clouds.
You’re all thumbs.
Your heart is in the right place.
Give me a hand.
Zip your lip.
Keep an eye out.
Play it by ear.
Have egg on your face.

Figurative Meanings
Hurry up.
Stop daydreaming.
You’re clumsy.
You’re trying to be helpful.
Help me.
Be quiet.
Look and see.
Don’t make a plan.
Feel embarrassed or silly.

For the Extension Activity, How Does this Work?, gather images of things that zip, snap, button, and tie, or have students find images for homework.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. What Does That Mean? Watch the Grammar movie from Egg on Your Face (L3U6L4). Pause after Moby imagines the literal meaning, but before Ben says the figurative meaning. Ask students to guess the figurative meaning before Ben says it. Then continue the movie so students can check and confirm their answers.
  2. Illustrate It. For homework, have students complete the Literal and Figurative Graphic Organizer. They may choose any idiom, and then illustrate both the literal and figurative meanings. Encourage them to do more than one idiom. Have them share their graphic organizers with the class.
  3. Hear It, Say It. Have partners do Hear It, Say It, taking turns repeating the line and asking what the idiom means. For example:

    Student A: Shake a leg, Moby!
    Student B: What does "shake a leg" mean?
    Student A: It means hurry up.
  4. Idiom Match. On a repeated viewing of the movie Egg on Your Face (L3U6L4), do an Idiom Match activity. Differentiate the level of the activity by choosing one:
      1. Distribute the Idiom Match sentence strips to pairs of students (see Preparation). Partners match these idioms from the movie with their figurative meanings.
      2. For an added challenge, provide the idioms only, and have students explain the figurative meanings in their own words. Students must find and write their own answers.
    After reviewing the idioms, invite students to share examples of idioms from their native languages.


  • How Does This Work?  Have students sort the pictures of things that snap, zip, button, and tie into those four categories. Then have them report their examples to the class. You can use their examples to make a class poster illustrating the four words.
  • What’s the Signal? To practice the vocabulary word signal, have students find examples of different kinds of signals, such as traffic signals, referees’ or coaches’ signals, signals between friends, words that signal a language structure. For example, if signals the conditional.
  • Encourage students to pay attention to idioms they hear, in and out of school, and write them down. Have them also write what they think the idiom means. Using their findings, make an Idiom Wall, like a Word Wall, that students can add to throughout the year as they encounter new idioms.
  • After researching more idioms, have students choose one to represent in a creative project. You might want to assign theme-related idioms to groups, such as food, body, animals, etc. Some project examples include the following: a poster, an anecdote, a joke, a dialogue, a skit, a digital slide show or presentation, a video, a cartoon or drawing.
  • Gather additional resources about idioms. Some examples include:
    • Scholastic Dictionary of Idioms, by Marvin Terban. This is an excellent collection of idioms that includes the origin of idioms. Students can find one they like, illustrate it, and present it to the class.
    • In a Pickle: and Other Funny Idioms, by Marvin Terban
    • More Parts, by Tedd Arnold
    • There’s a Frog in My Throat, by Loreen Leedy
    • Any of the Amelia Bedelia books by Peggy Parish or Herman Parish


BrainPOP Movies
Idioms and Clichés