The Metaphor Game

In case you missed it (it was rather buried in the comments), I wanted to teach you the Metaphor Game.  My friend Jerusha taught it to me– and probably invented it, she’s that kind of mom– and when she reminded me about it, we started playing it again.  Here’s her explanation:

“We play the ‘metaphor game’ in our house – or in the car.  Like I Spy, except we describe something we see as something else – (to make it harder, and more poetic sounding, sometimes I’ll limit the number of words one can use to under 5).  My boy thinks it’s all fun and games – but it’s amazing what he’ll come up with – how creative his language can be when he can’t use the words he regularly might.  Then, when I read to them at night and notice a metaphor on the page, I’ll point it out.  Pretty soon, they are pointing them out to me.  This has give us good language for talking about poetry together.  We’ll read a poem about a tiger – for example – and then I’ll ask – do you think it’s a metaphor for something else?  And they can agree or disagree.  But it’s neat to have my 7-year-old boy able to think in that way.”

So, as an example: we read the first story of Heidi the other day, and in it, Spyri describes Dete as hurrying down the mountain by saying she was a steam engine.

Or, Bill is a moose in a china cupboard.

Sheila was a tornado in the toy room.

My children love these.  Does your family have a favorite word game?

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5 thoughts on “The Metaphor Game

  1. Ooh, we like puns, too. In fact, we dressed as them for Halloween. But I love this metaphor idea, incorporating it into our road trips and our daily reading. My oldest is in Classical Conversations right now and we had a discussion on using metaphors a couple of weeks ago. It was really, really hard for most of them (ages 12+) to come up with something that wasn’t actually a simile.

  2. I think we are a ways from such a cool game (like I’m still waiting on being able to play the Dictionary Game), but in the meantime, I can’t even define the word ‘metaphor’ simply enough, without having to define all the other words. Any suggestions?

    • I think I explained it as a thing-word (noun) that IS the thing you’re describing. (Too many “things” in that sentence, I know.)Then I gave some examples: Mommy was an ogre when she found the paint on the carpet. Molly was a butterfly, going from person to person at the party.I introduced it after the first chapter of Heidi, which had several metaphors I could use as examples.

  3. For the record – I did not try to explain the ins and outs of the concept of “metaphor” to my kids – or differentiate it from a “simile” – at least not at first. But I did want them to use the word. So I used the game to teach by example. I think I originally said – “describe this thing as something different than what it is…but don’t give it away!!” So… when my guy was little it was… “a silver, fast bird.” (an airplane). I was amazed at how little I had to explain after we had played it together for awhile. Thanks for this, Annie. 🙂

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