A list of literary devices in literature

The following is a list of literary devices that authors use to make their writing more interesting and vivid.  I like to directly explain each device to students, draw attention to the device while reading in any read-aloud novel, and incorporate using those devices in writing assignments.  These devices can be used no matter which reading program or literature-based reading list you are using!

* Similes–Compares 2 things, uses like or as "The sun was like a spotlight on the world."

* Metaphors–Compares 2 things as if they are the same item  "The clouds were marshmallows."

* Idioms–Phrases that say one thing but mean another  "You hit the nail on the head."

* Alliteration–Using the same beginning letter in a phrase for emphasis  "He made his special spicy salami sandwich."

* Personification–Writing about inanimate objects as IF they were a PERSON.  Stories with talking animals or talking trees, such as fables or the Wizard of Oz are the most common examples.

* Foreshadowing–Giving a hint that something is coming up in the story.  "Little did I know I'd be in for the adventure of my life."

* Flashback–Telling a story of a previous experience inside a story in present tense.  "I'll never forget when I was a child and I got my first dog."

* Symbolism–Using something to represent and give meaning or a message about something else.  "What does the apple in the story represent?"

* Irony–Something in a story happens in the opposite way than was expected.

*Satire–Making fun of something or making a statement about something in another genre.  Gulliver's Travels is a political satire.

* Onomatopoeia–Using "sound" words.  "Bang!"  "Crunch"


A list of literary elements for comprehension skills

When using a literature-based approach with students, I like to focus primarily on the literary elements for determining their comprehension of the novel.  I have designed several graphic organizers using these elements, which helps students track the typical presentation of the elements as a story progresses.

The literary elements in every story and novel are:

1) Characters

2) Setting–Time and Place

3) Problem (Conflict)

4) Events (Rising Action)

5) Climax

6) Solution to the Problem (Resolution)

Several resources for having students do follow-up activities with literary elements are found in the teacher resource section of the catalog.  Alternatives to Worksheets provides formats for writing and book report projects that make summaries fun and create interesting final products.  Graphic Organizers are great for students in grades 4 to 12 to provide information in new ways, especially for visual or global learners.

A list of comprehension skills for nonfiction

Here is a list of skills required for students to be able to comprehend nonfiction passages well:

* Knowing Appropriate Vocabulary

* Finding the Main Idea

* Recalling Facts and Details

* Detecting the Sequence

* Using the Context

* Drawing Conclusions and Making Inferences

* Locating Answers (used in textbooks)

* Following Directions (for assignments)

If your child is having difficulty with these comprehension skills, check the Reading section of the catalog for Specific Skills Series, New Practice Readers, or Reading for Concepts.  These are all great materials for providing practice on these comprehension skills.

Building reading fluency

There are several approaches to building reading fluency:

1)  The first is to be sure the child can decode words quickly and accurately.  Direct phonics instruction is important in facilitating this skill.

2)  The second approach is to require the child to read gradually increasing amounts of text every day.  Taking turns reading aloud is a fun way to practice and provide visual breaks for the student in order to extend the reading session without fatigue.

3)  Neurological Impress is a technical term for old fashioned choral reading.  While there is a prescribed method to doing neurological impress, I have found over the years that reading aloud simultaneously at a smooth, but not too fast pace, helps students maintain oral fluency and they often mimick the expression of the adult.  I have used choral reading in a classroom setting and in 1:1 sessions with students.

4) Guided Reading employs short-term auditory memory and builds student confidence; however, my students have often found it to be a laborious process and often request to try a different approach.  In Guided Reading, the teacher reads a passage that is just long enough that the student will not be able to recite the passage verbatim without actually reading.  After the teacher model, the student reads the same passage aloud.

5)  Read Naturally is a curriculum designed from elements of Curriculum-based Assessment, Choral Reading, and Guided Reading.  In the classroom, audiocassette tapes are utilized.  Wisdom Seekers has Read Naturally stories only available to homeschoolers and tutors.  Check out the Reading section of the catalog.

Journal writing

For students reluctant to write, I have found that short DAILY writing times help to overcome resistance and frustration in not knowing how to start.  Using a structured, pre-writing plan helps also.  For some students, each assignment is like learning another foreign method of writing.  These students often write in simple sentences and generate a sentence or two, seldom reaching a half-page of writing.  For these students, I have found a simple format with similar prompts and topics of interest have helped in getting students to write more.  If this describes your child, check out our Wisdom Seekers Student Journal.  This journal has been extremely helpful in helping my students develop a routine habit of writing and gave opportunities to expand and revise the most interesting essays

Quick Paragraph outlines

When teaching paragraph structure, I introduce this outline on a 3×5 card or at the top of a rough draft notebook paper:







–The Title is what your topic or subject is.

–The T is for Topic Sentence.  It must contain the topic word and a key idea about the topic.  Such as Turtles, What they eat.

–The numbers are for details.  For the outline, have students write a word or short phrase to jog their memory about the list of details.  They must have 3-5 details to begin, otherwise, they tend to wander from the central theme or they end up making bulleted lists.

–The C is for concluding sentence.  It must restate the topic sentence and key idea, but paraphrased using different sentence structure.

By providing this outline, I have found it gives students a format to write quick essay paragraphs prior to introducing detailed instruction in Kansas Writing Strategies or before expanding to a 5 paragraph essay and research report.

Fun book reports

Here are some fun and creative projects for jazzing up book reports:

* Make a literature mobile showing the main characters, setting, and events.  Use a coat hanger or plastic lid for the structure.  Have students design graphics to represent each literary element and write words or sentences on the back side of each item.  Hang them from the structure with colorful yarn or string.

*Write a postcard to one of the characters in the story.  The message can alert the character to what will be happening later in the story, explain motives of another character, or recommend another book that the character could join if it were possible.  The message must be brief and postcard sized, so words must be chosen carefully.

*Make a flip-flap booklet by folding a piece of paper lengthwise (hotdog style).  Cut flaps on one half of the paper from edge to center fold.  Label the outside flaps with titles or categories and write information on the inside of the flap.  For literature, categories could be story elements of main character, setting, problem, solution.  For writing, students could write the sequential steps, telling how to do something.  Math facts are another good use for flip-flaps.

These ideas and many more come from Alternatives to Worksheets and More Alternatives to Worksheets, which are found in the Teacher Resource section of our catalog.

Marking parts of speech

I have found that students benefit from a visual cueing system for the parts of speech.  Maintaining the same cues from beginning to end, no matter what grammar text is chosen or what resources are used for proofreading, a cueing system makes an abstract idea more concrete.  You can make up your own, but I have used rainbow colors, as well as the following markings:

* Nouns–underline

* Pronouns–dashed underline

* Verbs–zig-zag underline

* Adjectives–box  (Note: adjectives ONLY describe nouns)

* Adverbs–triangle on wheels

* Prepositions–parentheses with P at the beginning for preposition and N at the end for noun; then box or triangle for its function  (Note: prepositions function as adverbial phrases mostly, but when they function as an adjective they come AFTER the noun)

* Conjunctions–circle and chain the two items together (NOTE:  coordinating conjunctions chain only like things together, ie. noun to noun, verb to verb, sentence to sentence)  When chaining sentences, a comma is used as the end punctuation of the first sentence.

* Interjections–star or exclamation point