Lesson 3 – Expressive Writing (Part 1)

By admin On November 17, 2011 Under Creative Writing

Teachers’s Guide to Creative Writing Lesson 3

Topic: Expressive Writing (Part 1)


  1. To help students write expressively
  2. Understanding about Expressive writing and how to use Idioms, Phrases, Proverbs and Similes


1.  Introduce the topic and the objective of this topic to the students
2.  Idioms:

An Idiom is a figurative expression, which is used in writing and in speech. It is an expression where the meanings cannot be inferred from the meanings of the words that make it up.

For example:

Blind leading the blind      – someone who does not understand something himself but tries to explain it to others.

Explain to your students this Idiom in this manner:

Tell them to imagine a blind person. Hence he or she is unable to see anything yet tries to show another person something that they themselves are unable to see, or perhaps to direct another person home when they themselves are unable to direct themselves home.

When you explain to students in this manner, they are then able to see why such comparisons are used. However, make sure that they understand that this Idiom has nothing to do with blind people literally. It is only used as a means of comparison to help them understand what this Idiom truly means.

3.  Students need to understand that Idioms do not necessarily mean exactly as the words state, however, they try to explain something indirectly.

4.  When you give your students more Idioms, explain to them in this same manner for easy understanding.

5.  After you have explained a few Idioms to your students, allow them to explain some Idioms to you either through verbal explanation or in a drawing. For the Idiom, ‘Blind leading the blind’, for example, they may draw either two blind people trying to show something to each other. Then ask your students to explain what they have drawn. In this case, they would have drawn two blind people because the Idiom states such. However, after they have drawn the Idiom out literally, they would then have to explain what they have drawn and then explain what it indirectly means. Hence, they would have to do three things:

  • Draw it literally as the Idiom says
  • Explain what they have literally drawn
  • Explain what the Idiom means indirectly.

Note:      If some students are unable to draw, you may ask them then to simply explain the Idiom literally, like you have done earlier, and then explain what it indirectly means.

6.  Here are a few Idioms for you to practice with your students. (You may explain a few of them first and when you are satisfied that they have understood what Idioms are, you may then explain to them what you want them to do).


Bull in a china shop – Someone who is clumsy and upset other people’s plans.

Burn the candle at both ends – Work or play too hard without enough rest.

Burn the midnight oil – Study until every late at night.

Bury one’s head in the sand – Refuse to see or face something unpleasant.

Bury the hatchet – Stop quarrelling and become friendly with someone

Butter someone up – Flatter someone

Card up one’s sleeve – A plan or argument kept back to be produced if needed.

Castles in the air – Day dreams

Cast pearls before swine – Waste something valuable on someone who does not appreciate it.

Cast the first stone – Be the first to blame someone.

Cat gets one’s tongue – Cannot talk.

Catch on – Understand or learn about.

Change horses in midstream - Make new plans or choose a new leader in the middle of an important activity.

Change of heart – Change the way one feels about something.

Change one’s mind – Change one’s decision.

Clip someone’s wings – Limit one’s activities or possibilities

Coast is clear – No danger is in sight.

Cover one’s track – Hide or not say where one has been or what one has done.

Crack the whip – Try to make someone work hard or obey you by threatening them.

Cry over spilt milk – Cry or complain about something that has already happened.

Cry wolf – Warn of danger that is not there.

Curiosity killed the cat – Being too nosy and interested in other people’s business may lead a person into trouble.

Dead duck – A person or thing in a hopeless situation.

Dig in – Begin eating.

Horse of a different color – Something totally separate and different.

In the doghouse – In disgrace.

Lead a dog’s life – Work hard and be treated unkindly.

Let sleeping dogs lie – Do not make trouble if you do not have to.

Let the cat out of the bag – Tell something that is supposed to be a secret.

Look like the cat that swallowed a canary – Look very self-satisfied, look as if one  just had a great success.

Make a mountain out of a molehill – Make something that is unimportant seem important.

Monkey business – Unethical or bad activity, mischief.

Play cat and mouse with someone – Tease or fool someone.

Put the cart before the horse – Do things in the wrong order.

(Note:     The above Idioms are merely a few; you may choose to find more idioms of your own for your students or you may encourage your students to find more idioms on their own.

7.  After your students have clearly understood what idioms are and you are satisfied with their participation in the game, you may then teach them how to use these idioms in sentences.

Using Idioms in compositions add spice to the writing piece. This is one good form of improving self-expression.

Using Idioms in sentences can sometimes be a little confusing. You must remember to change tenses if needs be to suit the construction of your sentence.

Also, when the Idiom has the word ‘one’ or ‘someone’, you must remember to change those words to either a person’s name or a pronoun.


Cook one’s goose

-  Cook her goose
-  Cooking her goose
-  Cooked her goose

Rain cats and dogs

-  Raining cats and dogs
-  Rained cats and dogs

8.  After your students have understood how to construct sentences using Idioms, you may give them a few Idioms to practice writing sentences for.

Here are a few Idioms for you to help your students get started.

(You may choose to find more idioms of your own for your students or you may encourage your students to find more idioms on their own)

Sentence Construction:

Beat someone to the punch – do something before others

According to Hoyle – strictly by the rules

Add up – seem consistent or reasonable

Ahead of time – early

All ears – eager to listen to someone

All thumbs – clumsy

An arm and a leg – a large amount of money

Apple of one’s eye – one’s favourite

Asleep at the switch – not alert to an opportunity

At fault – be the one responsible or be the one to be blamed for something

At loggerheads – having a quarrel

At someone’s beck and call - always ready to serve somebody

At the end of one’s rope – at the limit of one’s ability to cope

Back on one’s feet – return to good financial or physical health

At odds – in disagreement

Bail someone out – help or rescue

Bark is worse than one’s bite – someone is not as bad as they sound

Behind one’s back – without someone’s knowledge

Back out – withdraw from an agreement or promise

Back to the drawing board – go back to start a project or idea from the beginning

Bark up the wrong tree – make a wrong assumption about something

Beat around the bush – speak indirectly

Bank on – depend on

Bee in one’s bonnet – have an idea that continually occupies one’s thoughts

Bite off more than one can chew – try to do more than one is able to do

Blow one’s own horn – praise oneself

Blue in the face – extremely exhausted

Bite the bullet – face a difficult situation bravely

Bite the hand that feeds one – turn against a friend or supporter; repay kindness with wrong

Blow over – calm down

Blow it – fail at something

Break the news – tell some information first

Break the ice – relax and start a new conversation in a formal situation

Bring to mind – recall something

Bring the house down – cause much laughter in the audience

Dime a dozen – easy to get and of little value

Do a double take – look again in surprise at someone or something

Do away with – put an end to, stop, get rid of

Feel like a million dollars – feel wonderful

Food for thought – something worth thinking about

9.  To make your lesson more enjoyable, you may give your students a project to do. The project would be to find as many idioms as they possibly can or a limit of 10 idioms, and compile them into a booklet, with drawings, to illustrate each idiom.

10. After teaching Idioms to your students, you may then proceed towards teaching Similes and Proverbs. How intense or thorough the teaching of these two topics would depend solely on you.

11.Teach these two topics in the same manner as you did for the topic on Idioms

  • Explain the Similes and Proverbs through drawings (Optional)
  • Sentence Construction
  • Project

12. Here are a few Similes and Proverbs to help get your students started.
(You may choose to find more Similes and Proverbs of your own for your students or you may encourage your students to find more Similes and Proverbs on their own)


A Simile is a figure of speech that shows a resemblance between things of different kinds (usually formed with ‘like’ or ‘as’)

Similes compare things that are alike in some respect although they may be different in their general nature.


as agile as a monkey                              as black as coal

as blind as a bat                                              as brave as a lion

as bright as a lark                                  as brittle as glass

as busy as a bee                                               as clear as crystal

as cold as ice                                          as cool as  cucumber

as dead as a doornail                             as deaf as post

as dry as a bone                                              as easy as ABC

as faithful as a dog                                 as fat as a pig

as fickle as the weather                          as flat as a pancake

as good as gold                                                as graceful as a swan

as green as grass                                    as hairy as a gorilla

as hard as iron                                       as heavy as an elephant

as hot as fire                                          as hungry as a wolf

as light as a feather                                as loud as thunder


A proverb is a short well-known saying.


A stitch in time saves nine – a quick action prevents further problems

Charity begins as home – do good deeds in your own home first

Don’t cross the bridge until you come to it – don’t worry about a problem until it actually comes

Empty vessels make the most noise – foolish people talk too much

Behind every cloud there is a silver lining – something good comes out of every problem.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained – there is no profit without risk

Pride goes before a fall – a proud person may bring misfortune upon himself

Rome was not built in a day – a big task needs time and patience to be brought to completion

There’s many a slip between cup and lip – nothing is certain until it is achieved

Out of the frying pan into the fire – to go from one problem to another


End of Lesson.

Please take note that if this lesson has to be repeated again on another day or continued for whatever reason, it is with the discretion of the teacher.

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