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At KS2 level, children are introduced to idioms: they are expected to be able to identify a range of popular idioms and explain their meanings, as well as use these phrases in language and writing.
This guide provides you with a definition and examples of English idioms, as well as activities to help your child learn about these phrases and their meaning. Learning about idioms and phrases
What Is The Definition Of An Idiom?
An idiom is a phrase or sentence which doesn't generally mean what the sum of its words means. Idioms can also be called "sayings" or "expressions".
Idioms should not be interpreted literally; they are 'figurative', which means that they are an image which illustrates a certain situation.
For example, when you say "we're all in the same boat", you don't actually mean that everyone is in a ship - the phrase actually means that everyone is in the same situation.
Idioms are language-specific and often don't translate well - an English phrase is very different to a French or Chinese one, for example!
What Are Some Examples of Idioms?
If you are looking for an example of idioms, here is a list of popular phrases as well as their meanings. It's not hard to use an idiom the right way if you understand what they mean.
- When something happens out of the blue, it means it is a surprise and no one was expecting it.
- When something slips your mind, it means you've forgotten about it.
- If you say it's raining cats and dogs, it means it's raining very heavily.
- Giving someone the cold shoulder means ignoring them.
- Crying crocodile tears means you are pretending to be upset, not really crying.
- When someone feels like a fish out of water, it means they feel out of place.
- If something costs an arm and a leg, it means it is very expensive.
- If you play something by ear, it means you are making it up as you go or improvising.
- You can't teach an old dog new tricks means that it is harder to teach something new to someone older.
- Feeling under the weather means feeling unwell.
- If you are over the moon, it means you are really happy.
- If something is second to none, it means it is the best.
- To have second thoughts means to be unsure about something, and so does having mixed feelings or being on the fence!
Activities Around Idioms For Kids
To help your child learn the meaning of idioms and understand their figurative nature, you could try the following activities:
Try writing out a short story or paragraph using as many idioms as possible and ask your child to highlight them and explain their meanings.
Try writing out some idioms and make the most important words blank, asking your child to fill them in with the correct words and explain their meanings. Here are some examples:
- His name rings a ________ (bell)
- The world is your ______ (oyster)
- I'm turning over a new ______ (leaf)
See how many idioms your child can think of by asking them to mime them to you and the family - turn it into a game of charades! You could give players extra points if they give the correct meaning of the idiom.
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