“What is Lego land?” Boy asked this morning. Engaged with my commentary about the Legoland theme park in the U.K, Boy listened patiently.
“That’s nice Mum, but why do people say there is a Lego land down the road?”
Boy finished his monotone and looked at me blankly; letting me know I was dumb because I failed to understand his question!
My explanations of high density living, renamed negatively as Lego land, led naturally into similes.
Not wanting to lose the teachable moment, I gave Boy a definition and a few examples of similes. Without prompting, Boy began matching my similes.
“Wait.” I pleaded manipulatively. “I have never heard such great similes from an 11 year old. I have to write them down so that I can use them in my next book”:
- Hungry as an ogre
- Bored like a prisoner
- Hard as wood
- Sharp as an Eagle
- Pale as paper
- Loud like an Elephant’s bellow
- Slow as a snail
- Cool like a cucumber
- Farting like a thunderstorm
- Quiet like a mouse
- His temper was hot like candle wax.
Not wanting to spoil the natural learning, I quietly pondered whether to push onto metaphors. Would his mood and aspergers focus tolerate a change right now?
“He is a fat pig.” Boy waited for me to type his offer of another simile.
My chance. I took it.
“Actually, that is a great metaphor. A metaphor is still a comparison but it is no longer similar: “like” or “as”. The metaphor comparison suggests that the person or thing is something it really is not. The pig is fat, the man is fat, but the pig can never be the man and the man can never be the pig. We do not have magic wands to change people into pigs so a metaphor is an allowable writing or talking way to change the man into a pig. He is a fat pig.”
Without too much thought, and only a little checking of the similes I had recorded, the following metaphors dropped from Boy’s mouth.
- Home school is jail.
- In school, I am a bored prisoner.
- Mum is a slow snail.
- My friends are cool cucumbers.
- My eyes are eagle sharp.
- His face was iron wood hard.
- The thunderstorm fart shook the classroom.
- His anger dripped its candle wax on everyone his burning eyes looked at.
Candle talk led into candle sculpting. Boy melted (pictured above) wax and shaped it into a mushroom (pictured below).
“Poisonous as a mushroom: simile or metaphor?” I enquired as Boy molded.
“It is the “like” or “as” word. I can’t remember the right word.”
“The word that says something is similar?” I hinted.
“Simile! That’s it,” he responded to my prompt.
“I am a gentle flower. Simile or metaphor?”
“That means you’re just a liar Mum because you are actually a dragon.”
We have had an excellent day of grabbing the teachable moments around similes and metaphors. Best of all, Boy was in such a relaxed mood, he willingly completed an algebra and rhyming unit from the Kinetic Education computer based program that we are using.
Funny thing is though, that today’s diary informs me that French cooking and culture was on the agenda. Oh well. At least Boy's wax mushroom looks suspiciously like a French Truffle!
C’est la vie!