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Teaching personification to kids: Strategies and examples

Teaching personification to kids: Strategies and examples

What is Personification?

Personification is a literary technique where non-human entities are given human traits. This technique makes stories more vivid and relatable, helping readers connect with the material more deeply. 

👉🏽 Pro tip: To help your child remember what personification means, point out that the word "personification" has "person" in it, so it involves giving ‘person-like’ qualities to objects or animals.

The importance of teaching personification

Introducing personification to children is crucial for developing their creative thinking and comprehension skills. It not only enhances their enjoyment of reading but also encourages imaginative thought processes.

Strategies for effectively teaching personification

1. Visual aids for clarity

Visual aids can help illustrate personification. Show images of inanimate objects with human traits to clarify the concept.

For example, use pictures of inanimate objects with human faces like these:

Image by brgfx on Freepik

And then ask questions like:

  • "What do you think each television set is feeling and why?"
  • "If this television could talk, what do you think it would say?"
  • "Why might this television be feeling happy or sad?"
  • "Can you think of a story where this television plays a role? What might happen?"
  • "How would you describe the television's personality based on its expression?"

These questions help students understand how personification works by making it more relatable and engaging.

2. Incorporate storytelling

Storytelling is a powerful tool for teaching personification. Read stories that include personification and discuss where non-human things or animals act, feel, or speak like humans. This helps children recognise and understand the use of this literary device. 

You can do this in two ways:

  1. Reading stories 

    • You can read stories such as 'My Friend Earth' by Patricia MacLachlan with your child and then:
      • Point out instances in the book where Earth is depicted as having human-like qualities, such as when it "wakes up" in spring or "whispers" in the wind.
      • Discuss how the illustrations in the book contribute to the personification of Earth, showing it with facial expressions or engaged in activities like caring for the chimpanzee.
      • Explore the emotions Earth might feel in different seasons or situations, such as happiness when flowers bloom or sadness during a storm.
      • Talk about how the child might feel if they were friends with the Earth, and how they could show kindness and care towards it in their daily lives.
      • Encourage the child to think about how they can help protect and preserve the Earth, considering it as a friend they want to keep safe and happy.

These discussions will help your child think broadly and develop a clear understanding of personification.

2. Providing prompts for them to create their own stories

When helping your child write stories using personification, suggest they explore different categories like everyday objects, nature elements, animals, weather, food, marine life, or classroom items. Once they choose a category and a specific noun, like a spoon or a tree, encourage them to think about how that object or animal might feel and see the world. Help them come up with story ideas that have a problem and a solution. Show them examples of personification and ask questions to guide their thinking. This will boost their creativity and storytelling skills.

Detailed examples of personification

It's important to provide a variety of examples to help your child understand personification better. Show them examples like these to help them learn how to generate their own ideas:

  • The autumn leaves danced gracefully in the wind.
  • The old house groaned and creaked throughout the night.
  • The mischievous breeze playfully tugged at my hat.
  • The waves whispered secrets to the shore as they gently kissed the sand.
  • The sun smiled down warmly, casting its golden rays across the meadow.
  • The thunder grumbled angrily, shaking the windows with its booming voice.
  • The moonlight danced across the water, shimmering like a thousand diamonds.
  • The flowers nodded their heads in agreement as the breeze whispered through the garden.
  • The stars winked mischievously, as if sharing a secret with the night sky.
  • The mountain stood tall and proud, its rocky face weathered by centuries of storms.
  • The river sang a melodic tune as it flowed gracefully through the valley.
  • The clouds gathered ominously, casting shadows over the landscape like a heavy blanket.
  • The fire crackled and popped, its warmth enveloping us like a comforting embrace.

These examples showcase how personification brings life and emotion to inanimate objects, making them more vivid and engaging in storytelling.

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