How parents can help children to use literary devices

Jul 2012
Help children practice literary devices
There are a number of games that can help children familiarise themselves with literary devices.

Literary devices such as alliteration and personification can often be used to add depth to children's written work, especially in story writing. There are a number of ways that parents can encourage children to use these techniques.

Make learning discreet
Parents can gradually introduce children to literary devices before attaching a name to these concepts. For example, familiarise children with the idea of similes, you can start by helping them describe their favourite characters from books or films.

Pose questions such as "Is your character as tall as a house?" which will subtlety direct children to use 'as' in their responses. The same could be done with 'like'.

Once this device is reinforced in their minds, you could create some gap filler exercises to help children use 'is a' to turn their sentences into metaphors, as they describe settings or characters. For example, 'The tree is a giant with fingers that stretch up to the sky'.

Learning through games
There are a number of games that can help children familiarise themselves with literary devices. The following is an example of an alliteration game:

"I am going on a trip" is a literacy game that is designed to reinforce alliteration, and improve memory skills.

Working with their parents or their peers, children can start with the above sentence and progress from there.

The first person in the group will start with a sentence such as "I am going to Paris and I am taking a poodle" and the game will continue with children adding other words starting with a 'p' sound until the group runs out of ideas.

Using drama
Drama can be the perfect medium for teaching literary devices such as personification. Personification involves giving human traits (qualities, feelings, action, or characteristics) to non-living objects (things, colours, qualities, or ideas). The following is an example of the device in action:

The wind stood up and gave a shout.
He whistled on his fingers and
kicked the withered leaves about

Parents can then help children to use props and role play to personify non-living objects. For example, children may want to imitate the movements of a wave and relate these to human actions.