Grade Levels: 3-5

*Click to open and customize your own copy of the Idioms and Cliches Lesson Plan

This lesson accompanies the BrainPOP topic Idioms and Cliches, and supports the standard of recognizing and explaining the meaning of common idioms, adages, and proverbs. Students demonstrate understanding through a variety of projects.


Display the following idioms:

The game was a piece of cake.

It’s raining cats and dogs. 

Ask students:

  • What do these expressions literally mean? (Encourage students to share in words or drawings. They may describe a slice of cake and cats and dogs falling from the sky.) 
  • What do these expressions actually mean when people use them in real life? 


  • Read the description on the Idioms and Cliches topic page.
  • Play the Movie, pausing to check for understanding. 
  • Assign Related Reading. Have students read one of the following articles: “In Depth,” “Language,” or “Way Back When.” Partner them with someone who read a different article to share what they learned with each other.

Step 3: APPLY and ASSESS 

Assign Idioms and Cliches Quiz, prompting students to apply essential literacy skills while demonstrating what they learned about this topic.


Students express what they learned about idioms and cliches while practicing essential literacy skills with one or more of the following activities. Differentiate by assigning ones that meet individual student needs.

  • Make-a-Movie: Produce a game show that challenges players to determine the figurative meanings of common idioms. 
  • Make-a-Map: Create a concept map with different examples of idioms and cliches. Identify the figurative meaning of each idiom. 
  • Creative Coding: Code a museum with artifacts that show the figurative meanings of common idioms. 

More to Explore 

Related BrainPOP Topics: Deepen understanding of language with these topics: Etymology, Dictionary and Thesaurus, and Figurative Language.

Teacher Support Resources:

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments