Object metaphor is a strategy that invites students to make meaning by describing an object that represents an aspect of their identity or of a character. This activity invites students to use deep perception and observation to examine and describe an object. It also encourages the understanding of metaphorical thinking.
Assemble a large assortment of random objects (mirror, whisk, nutcracker, funnel, candle, etc.) where all students can see them. It is helpful to have as many (or more) objects than participants. Invite students to respond to a prompt. For example: Compare your strengths as a learner to an object. Or Pick an object that represents something about your historical figure. Model how the strategy will work. In this activity you will pick up the object you want to use (the teacher picks up a funnel) and first describe it. This object is round and open at the top to bring a lot of things in and then narrows to a tight small hole. I am a funnel as a learner because I am good at taking a lot of different ideas and putting them together into a single, powerful argument. The activity can be repeated with additional prompts and objects as useful. Remind students that the same object can and should be used be different people. Review the difference between a simile (uses like or as) and metaphor if helpful.
How did it feel to choose an object? What part of the strategy was easy/difficult, and why?
What were some common ideas represented in the metaphors we created?
Where do we see or use metaphors or similes? Why? How might the information we shared and discovered about each other, help us in our work?
Focus on making observations about the object first–the object is worn, it has long thin parts–and then offer a personal connection to your interpretation of that characteristic.
There is no right answer. Multiple people can use the same object.
Have students pick an object randomly from a bag and work from and with whatever they picked.
For a second part of this activity, give students aluminum foil and asked to construct their own model based on the prompt, to build on areas that the first object metaphor didn’t fully support (see 3-D Models).
Reading/Writing or Social Studies: Have students use the objects to explore character traits of literary characters, historical figures, or the tone/mood of a story.
Math or Science: Have students use the objects to identify mathematical characteristic (geometric shape, line) or metaphorical representations of a scientific phenomenon or relationship.