Explain Common Idioms, Adages, Proverbs


With our Explain Common Idioms, Adages, Proverbs lesson plan, students learn about idioms, adages, and proverbs, including how they’re used and why. Students also learn some common idioms, adages, and proverbs during this lesson.

Included with this lesson are some adjustments or additions that you can make if you’d like, found in the “Options for Lesson” section of the Classroom Procedure page. One of the optional additions to this lesson is to have students use real-life situations to create or identify matching and applicable idioms, proverbs, or adages.

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What our Explain Common Idioms, Adages, Proverbs lesson plan includes

Explain Common Idioms, Adages, Proverbs teaches students all about idioms, adages, and proverbs, including what they are and how and why they are used. At the end of the lesson, students will be able to recognize and explain the meaning of common idioms, adages, and proverbs. This lesson is for students in 5th grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the green box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. To prepare for this lesson ahead of time, you can group students for the activity and copy the handouts.

Options for Lesson

Included with this lesson is an “Options for Lesson” section that lists a number of suggestions for activities to add to the lesson or substitutions for the ones already in the lesson. One optional adjustment to the lesson activity is to have students creates their own topics and sayings. You can also assign one topic to each group. Another optional addition to the lesson is to have students use real-life situations to create or identify matching and applicable idioms, proverbs, or adages. You could also invite some senior citizens to speak with your students about their favorite sayings that were passed down from generation to generation. Finally, you can let your students use the internet to identify other sayings.

Teacher Notes

The teacher notes page includes a paragraph with additional guidelines and things to think about as you begin to plan your lesson. This page also includes lines that you can use to add your own notes as you’re preparing for this lesson.


Famous Sayings

The Explain Common Idioms, Adages, Proverbs lesson plan includes five content pages. We have many famous sayings that you might recognize, like You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist (Gandhi) or Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you (Walt Whitman). You might wonder how these quotes can inspire you in life and what they mean.

Many famous quotes can help you live a better life. Lots of them are common sayings which we also call proverbs, adages, or idioms. You can use these in your own writing or speaking. They can help teach valuable lessons and get your point across to the people reading your work. You might also find them helpful in your daily conversations.

An idiom is a common expression. Specific cultures use different idioms. You should not take them literally. Learning the meaning of an idiom can be similar to learning the meaning of new words.

A proverb is a statement that shares practical wisdom in a simple way. They tend to be short and well-known sayings that contain a wise thought or helpful advice.

An adage, which is similar to a proverb, also gives advice. Adages are more common and have been part of common language for a long time.


It can be fun to use idioms. Young students might have to create a drawing based on an idiom as a school assignment. A famous idiom is Break a leg. It means good luck! If someone wants to overcome pain or do something uncomfortable, you might tell them to Bite the bullet. The literal meanings of these phrases don’t relate to what you mean when you say them.

Different cultures use different idioms. A person in another country might not understand idioms that we use often in the United States. If you used the idiom Barking up the wrong tree, for example, they might not understand that you mean someone is looking for solutions to a problem in the wrong place. They will probably picture an actual dog barking at an actual tree.

Using idioms can add power or interest to your writing. It’s a more creative way to express yourself and your ideas. They can also add humor. If you include the phrase When pigs fly in an essay, it changes the tone of the essay. You should pay attention to your intended tone and audience and decide whether idioms work in that context. We usually use them in informal writing. However, you can use some of them in more formal writing since people know their meanings.

Proverbs and Adages

Proverbs and adages are very similar and have few differences. You might be familiar with proverbs because of the book of Proverbs in the Christian Bible. Many authors have used these proverbs in their writing and people often use them in speeches.

Adages are generally older than proverbs, but you can use the two terms interchangeably. People pass down both of these types of sayings through the generations. Some families have sayings that only their family use. People have passed down many sayings this ways over many years.

You can use adages or proverbs in your writing to help teach or educate your reader or audience. They can learn something because these sayings contain advice or wisdom. The lesson includes two passages, one of which includes an adage and the other one doesn’t. This example illustrates the difference using one of these sayings can make.

Common Proverbs and Adages

The lesson then lists some common proverbs and adages and their meanings. The first, A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, means that you must start a task, no matter how large, with a first small step. Don’t kill the goose that lays the golden eggs means that you shouldn’t end something that benefits you without a good reason. People who live in glass houses should not throw stones means that you shouldn’t criticize others because you aren’t perfect. You shouldn’t be a hypocrite. There is no such thing as a free lunch means that everything has a cost and nothing is free. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. The best things in life are free means that the most important things in your life do not cost money, like your family and friends.

Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth means that it’s important to work hard and that you might struggle if you don’t work hard. The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair means that young people have strength, but older people have wisdom. Two heads are better than one means that it’s better and easier to work with others than alone. Two wrongs don’t make a right means that you’ll only make things worse if you try to get revenge on someone. There is no time like the present means that you should not procrastinate.

We have thousands of different proverbs and adages. As you get older, you will learn more of them. You can probably find an idiom, adage, or proverb for almost every subject, topic, or situation.


The Explain Common Idioms, Adages, Proverbs lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. You can refer to the guide on the classroom procedure page to determine when to hand out each worksheet.


Students will work in groups to create a new proverb, adage, or idiom that relate to three different topics. Each saying should share wisdom, help someone, or provide a creative way to understand the world. First, each group will write down some ideas for each topic. They will then write a final version of each saying.

Students can work wither alone or in pairs to complete this activity.


The practice worksheet asks students to read ten statements and choose an adage, proverb, or idiom that would best fit each of them. They will then use each saying in short three or four sentence paragraphs.


For the homework assignment, students will write one or two sentences using each of the ten provided idioms. They will also write down the meaning of two proverbs/adages.

Worksheet Answer Keys

This lesson plan includes answer keys for the practice worksheet and the homework assignment. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.

Additional information


5th Grade


Language Arts, Video

State Educational Standards


Lessons are aligned to meet the education objectives and goals of most states. For more information on your state objectives, contact your local Board of Education or Department of Education in your state.

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Excellent Lesson Plans

I love these complete lesson plans. They are easy to present and engaging for students.