What are Adages?

“Two wrongs don’t make a right” is a phrase that children may often hear. However, children may not actually know what this means! Upon hearing it, they may be confused and puzzled on what the person is actually telling them. This is often how children feel when learning a figurative language. Ultimately, it is challenging to pull out the deeper meaning that figurative language requires students to do! This is absolutely the case as students learn about proverbs and adages. First, proverbs and adages are complicated words to say! Second, it can be incredibly stressful to understand the meaning behind these concepts. Thus, it is so important to create engaging lessons in order to help students learn complex material in a fun way! 


What are Adages?

Adages are short, memorable sayings that are considered true by the majority of people. Typically, they are wise sayings that may be short but are very philosophical. Thus, adages can be viewed as something learned due to what many people experience in life. In other words, adages help give wisdom.

Examples include: 

  1. “A penny saved is a penny earned.” 
  2. “Curiosity killed the cat.” 
  3. “The early bird catches the worm.” 

Proverbs and Adages

When learning about proverbs and adages, it is important that students know a proverb may be an adage. They are both short, well-known sayings. However, the purpose of proverbs is to give out advice and really make people think about their decision. On the other hand, adages state wisdom as it is something that the majority of people consider to be accurate and true. Therefore, a proverb may also be considered an adage if the saying contains practical wisdom about life.


Creative Ways to Teach Adages

Whenever learning new material, students deserve to have engaging and interactive lessons. When they are truly involved in the lesson, they are comprehending the content on a deeper level. Due to how hard it can be to interpret the meaning behind adages and proverbs when first learning them, engagement is key! Therefore, these great lesson ideas will be ones that help students understand the content without becoming overwhelmed. 

  • Grandma’s Advice Activity 

Oftentimes, students hear adages from their grandparents. For instance, “time flies when you’re having fun” is a common example. Students will be given a list of popular ones. If there is time, have students ask their parents and grandparents to help put the list together! Then, each student picks a different one and creates a poster. The selected adage will be on it while the picture explains what it actually means. Therefore, students will see that time does not actually fly. Instead, it means the day goes fast when everyone is having fun. This activity will create incredible classroom art to fill the walls! 

  • Adage Sort 

Sorting is a great way to practice teamwork! Students will be given cards that have adages on them. Be sure to have some well-known ones and ones that are less-known in order to really challenge students. Then, provide a few minutes for a small group to discuss what they think the adages mean. Next, provide cards that have specific meanings. Now, provide time for groups to try and match the adage to the meaning. 


  • Creative Writing/Storytelling 

One of the best ways to learn new content is to explain it in your own words. Therefore, students will use a list to create a short story using a certain amount of them. This is also an easy activity to differentiate! For example, some students may need to include 4 adages while others need to include 2 adages. Be sure to remind students that readers should know the real meaning of the adage based upon the context of the story. Students will be so excited to share their stories with the class. Additionally, the class can also pick out the adages and then explain the meaning based upon the story! 

Additional Activities 

While some students will pick up on this content with no problem, other students may struggle. This is due to the fact that some students struggle learning figurative language due to interpreting the meaning. If this is the case, additional practice is a great way to help students! It can allow them more time to read examples and then discuss the meaning behind it. Thankfully, Proverbs and Adages Activities and Task Cards are a great tool to use! Here, there are 24 task cards and 7 pages of common proverbs and adages. There are even 3 additional activity sheets for even more practice!

I also have created a super fun and engaging Proverbs and Adages Pixel Art Coloring Activity that is great for reviewing proverbs and adages. There are three options for completing this activity in each file (a digital pixel art version, a printable color-by-number version, and a “quick answer sheet” that doesn’t require coloring). Students can fill out the answer sheet for a grade and complete the coloring sheet as an early finisher, soft start, or brain break during the day. Check them out here!

Additionally, there are Proverbs and Adages Boom Cards! Here, there are 30 task cards all containing proverbs and their meanings. Students will select the meaning of the proverb/adage or the proverb/adage that could be said in a situation. Truly, students will have a blast with this practice! If you need to know more about Boom Cards click here!


While proverbs and adages are tough terms, they can create some of the most enjoyable lessons! The content truly provides many ways for students to work with classmates while giggling and sharing different thoughts. Truly, students will be going home and telling their parents about adages after these amazing lessons! 

If you do not want to miss any of the upcoming lessons, join my email list to be notified of all the interactive lessons coming up! By joining the email list, you will also receive FREE Figurative Language Posters for blog exclusive subscribers!  

I am Kirsten Tulsian, an elementary educator with 18 years of experience as a teacher and counselor. My passion lies in empowering students to discover their inherent brilliance through the use of engaging, rigorous, and meaningful activities. I look forward to connecting with you!

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