Not My Idiom! Teaching idioms, figurative vs literal language worksheet/activity

A quick upload: this is a pretty straight forward worksheet to expose students to the concept that idioms are culture specific. I’ve found some idioms on a couple of websites, transferred them to a worksheet, and invited students to guess what they might mean.

I’d use this in an introductory lesson for a poetry or creative writing unit, where I’m trying to get students to understand the difference between ‘figurative’ and ‘literal’. A tip: look on Youtube for videos of kids acting out idioms literally. Lots of fun to be had. Another fun one is to get kids to act out or draw idioms, getting the class to guess a la Pictionary or Charades.

Anyway, here’s the Word doc:

See the original websites here:

September 11 Introduction Worksheets

Today is the 10th Anniversary of September 11; it’s a cliche to say it but man I can’t believe it’s been 10 years already.

When I first started teaching, September 11 was relatively recent and my students knew enough to discuss it in depth. Now most of my students were only four or five when it happened (and soon they wouldn’t have even been born) and 2001 is almost ancient history to them. Kind of like when I was a kid learning about the fall of the Berlin Wall.

With my year 10s this year I did an English unit with a War on Terror theme. September 11 may be a long time ago for these kids but the War in Afghanistan is very real and recent (Christ, just had a thought: this means the War in Afghanistan has been going on for 9-10 years too. Bugger.) Anyway, I developed these worksheets as an introduction to 9/11. When I’ve put it together, I’ll post that unit of work as well.

Also this year I have been reading Tomorrow When The War Began with my year 9’s. Being a story about an invasion of Australia, there is a link to September 11, Pearl Harbor and the Bombing of Darwin as these are all incursions on First World countries that otherwise go unharmed.

What is it?

A crossword with vocabulary related to the War on Terror.

Two articles explaining the basics of September 11 in common kid-friendly language. One is from a News Limited article (circa when Osama Bin Laden was caught and killed) and a Behind The News transcript (a kid-orientated news service run by the Australian Broadcasting Corp.) Take your pick.

Note: the Behind The News article video may be available to stream through Iview if you are in Australia at this address:

There is also a notetaking form; I suggest you update the comprehension questions in the bottom box.

How to use it:

Instruct students to read through and circle unfamiliar words; or at least words they don’t understand. They copy these into the first table.

Students then read through and highlight the key words and phrases. They copy these into the second table and explain them.

Then students answer the comprehension questions. These do need updating and I suggest you change them.


2011 307 September 11 Worksheets DOC

2011 307 September 11 Worksheets PDF


I also adapted the same articles for my year 8s as a cloze rather than a notetaking activity.

2011 308 September 11 Cloze DOC

2011 308 September 11 Cloze PDF

The plan is to stream the BTN news story so they can get the answers.

Update 2016

I found this excellent free TPT task from a fellow Teacher Author that is quite useful for being a quick introduction to the events of September 11:

Ring around the Rosey and The Black Death

Put your hands up if you’ve always believed Ring-around-a-rosey is about the Black Death:


Image Source:

Even worse, how many actually teach that that nursery rhyme is about the Black Death?


Image Source:

Yeah, I thought so too. Then I started fact checking my Black Death Year 8 History unit before posting to TPT. Nope:


That’ll teach me: I should run everything via!

It’s quite amazing though: do a Google search on Ring-Around-The-Rosey and you’ll find more than a dozen websites which appear quite reasonable yet consider the Black Death connection as fact. Generally, I’d be happy if most of my students referenced a site like – it seems relatively reliable and it’s even an org!

So anyway I rewrote the beginning of my unit to include a source evaluation task: those that can’t do, teach!

It’s available now on TPT at my store, if you’re interested in an activity on Ring-around-the-rosey and source evaluation. The remainder of my Black Death unit is soon to make it there too.


Here’s the preview if you’d like to have a look: BlackDeath01-RingaRingaRosesPREVIEW (PDF)

Worksheet: Punctuation Crossword Puzzle Freebie

One of those ideas I had one day …

Crossword puzzle where the clues are punctuation symbols. Why? Plenty of my students frequently ask me ‘what’s an a-poss-troff?’ Includes answer key.



PDF File: PunctuationCrossword

Images were sourced via

If you want the original DOCX file (free), visit my TeachersPayTeachers store (you’ll need a login to download it).

Simpsons Blooms Taxonomy and Multiple Intelligences Posters

What is it?

An adaptation of the excellent Multiple Intelligences posters, checklists and record sheets from Kurwongbah State School (in Queensland) using the Simpsons. I loved the concept of the original posters, just not the clipart. See the originals plus a lot more MI stuff at

While you’re there look for Kelsie Torrisi’s Book Reports the Blooming Smarts way. Awesome.

To match there’s a Blooms Taxonomy poster featuring the different levels of Homer’s brainpower.


2010 Simpsons Multiple Intelligences Poster (Landscape) DOC

2010 Simpsons Multiple Intelligences Poster (Portrait) PDF

I’m afraid I don’t know where the original .doc file for the Portrait posters are – they could easily be adapted from the Landscape posters.

2010 06 Mulitple Intelligences Checklist DOCX Quiz for the students to discover their ‘intelligences’, adapted for Australian high school students.

2010 06 Multiple Intelligences Personal Results DOCX

2010 06 Multiple Intelligences Personal Results PDF

2010 Simpsons Blooms Revised Taxonomy Poster DOC

2010 Simpsons Blooms Revised Taxonomy Poster Version 1 PDF

2010 Simpsons Blooms Revised Taxonomy Poster Version 2 PDF

I no longer have the DOC file for the Version 2, sorry.

Word Study / Spelling Contract / Vocabulary Study

What is it?

A spelling / vocabulary program of small word study activities. A friend gave me a copy of a basic spelling contract which I adapted for use in my classes; it has been further developed over the last few semesters with feedback from students. Ideally the program is self-directed: it can be set as homework. I’ve also used word study as a regular activity in the first five minutes of lesson while I set up.

Adapt the included checklist and spelling activities to suit your program.

How it works:

The process I use:

  1. I develop new vocabulary words each fortnight, taken usually from the content of the class or the novel we are reading.
  2. I do ‘Have A Go’, a mock test where I read the words aloud, and students give them a try. This is to allow students to connect the way a word is pronounced with its written form.
  3. Students copy the words into their book.
  4. Students complete a worksheet or activities where students match vocab to definitions (matching or crosswords work well); or with grammar or cloze activities. Word Search and Crossword generators are useful here.
  5. Then students choose which word study activities they would like to complete. They have two weeks to complete 5 points of tasks.
  6. Each term, students get a new word study checklist.

Battleship Vocab:

A suggestion from several spelling websites, very popular. Students play Battleship but with vocabulary words instead of ships. Included is a printable chart.

Stencil Art:

I keep a collection of stencils in my classroom for projects and word study. They were all bought from a dollar shop.

Alphabet Sampler:

For the Word Art activity I mention an alphabet sampler. Find it here.


As part of our History of English unit we did a quick fun lesson on how to do cursive, an unusual thing for high school students to try.

Australian students don’t learn cursive when they are learning to handwrite; they learn some silly thing called ‘Linked Script’.

My main motivation for wanting to do a lesson on cursive was to help students understand how to read it. Some of the kids actually enjoyed writing in it, so it was included in the Word Study.


  • The checklist is set up for fortnights. You can adapt easily to weekly, if you prefer, by adding columns.
  • Provide a new sheet each week with the words and four or five activities to complete rather than use a new checklist.
  • Choose for the students which activities they are to complete each week.
  • Vary the points required: 5 points is very low.
  • Change the activities.
  • Ask the students which activities they prefer and have them come up with new ones.


Let me know if you feel there’s a copyright infringement here. There is nothing original about this Word Study except its layout and design; all of the activities were compiled from suggestions across the web or from students themselves. It is adapted from a photocopied spelling contract given to me at some point; and others have taken my spelling contracts and adapted them to suit themselves.


2011 300 Word Study DOC

2011 300 Word Study PDF