People Things- The Power of Personification in Literature

Learning Resource Type

Lesson Plan

Subject Area

English Language Arts




This lesson teaches personification as a form of figurative language. Students will be introduced to characters and objects in stories, poems, and a movie clip that possess human characteristics. This topic can be used as a stand-alone lesson or with a unit on figurative language.

English Language Arts (2021) Grade(s): 3


Expand background knowledge and build vocabulary through discussion, reading, and writing.



  • Background knowledge
  • Vocabulary
  • Discussion


Students know:
  • Relating experiences through discussions, reading, and writing will help build background knowledge and improve vocabulary.


Students are able to:
  • Connect new concepts to prior experiences to increase background knowledge through discussions, reading, and writing.
  • Construct the meaning of words through discussions, reading, and writing.


Students understand that:
  • Background knowledge can increase by relating experiences to new ideas, topics, and words while participating in discussions, reading, and writing.
  • Vocabulary will increase by constructing the meaning of words while participating in discussions, reading, and writing.
English Language Arts (2021) Grade(s): 3


Read prose, poetry, and dramas, identifying the literary devices used by the author to convey meaning.



  • Prose
  • Poetry
  • Dramas
  • Identifying
  • Literary devices
  • Author
  • Convey meaning


Students know:
  • Literary text often includes literary devices, such as personification, imagery, alliteration, onomatopoeia, symbolism, metaphor, and simile.
  • An author uses literary devices to convey meaning within the text.


Students are able to:
  • Identify the literary devices when reading prose, poetry, and dramas.


Students understand that:
  • Literary devices are a special type of language that an author uses to convey meaning in literary text.
  • Literary devices are language that carries meaning other than the literal meaning of the words or phrases.
English Language Arts (2021) Grade(s): 3


Use words and phrases in writing for effect and elaboration.



  • Phrases
  • Effect
  • Elaboration


Students know:
  • Using particular words and phrases in writing, like unique verbs and adjectives, can create an effect for readers.
  • Particular words and phrase can be used to elaborate, or provide more details, about a topic.


Students are able to:
  • Use words and phrases in writing for effect and elaboration.


Students understand that:
  • Writers carefully choose words to use in writing to elaborate on details and create an effect for readers.

Primary Learning Objectives

Students will demonstrate understanding of personification by writing a story describing a student-created character possessing human-like characteristics.

Additional Learning Objective(s)

Students will work in small collaborative groups to identify and name personified characters and the details supporting the evidence of the characters’ human abilities.


Before Activity

Step 1: The teacher will grab students’ attention by holding a broom in front of them and making the broom “dance” and “talk” in dialogue that could be spoken by a human.  The teacher will ask students what the broom is acting like and lead a discussion until students decide the broom is portraying a human.  The teacher will write the word “personification” on the board and explain that it is a form of figurative language.  The teacher will ask students what word they see inside the word “personification”, which would be “person”.  The teacher will explain that personification means that an animal or object, such as the broom, in a story possesses characteristics matching that of a person or human.  The teacher will explain that the broom moved and talked like a person, and therefore the teacher had personified the broom. The teacher will say that many forms of stories, poems, television shows, and movies contain animals or objects that are personified to make the plot more interesting. The teacher will show a website picture from Disney’s Finding Nemo and explain that the characters in the movie talk and act like humans, so they are an example of personification.

Step 2: The teacher will say that personification can be found in many forms of literature. The teacher will read aloud multiple sentences from the Examples of Personification website as well as many of the poems.  The teacher will lead a discussion after each sentence/poem reading to encourage students to conclude what animal or object is the focus and what they are doing that gives them human characteristics. The teacher will explain that personification can be found in all fiction genres of books, as well as in poems and nursery rhymes.

Step 3: The teacher will explain that many television shows and movies contain personified characters. The teacher will ask students to provide ideas about television shows and movie characters that they have seen that featured personification. The teacher will introduce a personification video and play it for the students via a projector connected to a computer. The teacher will lead a class discussion upon completion of the video about personification descriptors in the video and will list each clue provided in the discussion on a chart entitled “Personification in Television/Movies”.

During Activity

Step 4: The teacher will introduce The Widow’s Broom to students. The teacher will explain that students must look closely at the pictures and listen carefully to the text clues to pinpoint details that portray the broom as having human characteristics. The teacher will read the story aloud using the document camera, stopping at each page to lead a discussion about the broom’s characteristics. At times, the teacher will instruct students to turn and talk to the partner next to them about the broom’s personified characteristics.

After Activity

Step 5: After reading the story, the teacher will distribute two copies of the Brainstorming Graphic Organizer to each student. The teacher will divide the class into groups of three and give each group a copy of The Widow’s Broom.  Each group will work together to record clues describing the broom’s human characteristics.

Assessment Strategies

The students will mentally create an animal or object that possesses human characteristics, and will write a story describing the character and the evidence of its personification.  Each student will share his/her story with the class and will lead a discussion about the characteristics his/her animal or object possesses that demonstrate personification.


Students who already know about the topic of personification and can easily write a detailed story of a created animal or object with human characteristics can use personification in poetry to write an acrostic poem. The teacher will describe to these students what an acrostic poem is and direct them to the ReadWriteThink website, which will guide them through the creation of a poem that contains personification.  Students may use the same character from their story, or they may create a new character for the poem. The extension activity can be found at:


Students who need extra assistance will meet with the teacher in a small group setting prior to the assessment of writing.  The teacher will read aloud the book The Three Pigs by David Wiesner and discuss with students the evidence in the story that indicates the personification characteristics of the characters in the story. Since other students will be writing during this time, the students who must meet in small group will be given an extended period of time to write their stories.

Total Duration

91 to 120 Minutes


Students should have a clear understanding of the meaning of figurative language prior to this lesson. Knowledge of the types of figurative language is preferred. An in-depth study of personification prior to this lesson is not necessary.

Materials and Resources

The Widow’s Broom by Chris Van Allsburg (one teacher copy, one additional copy per small group), chart paper with marker, writing paper (each student), pencil, Three Little Pigs by David Wiesner (one teacher copy) for a remediation activity.

Technology Resources Needed

Personification Picture (one printed teacher copy)

Examples of Personification for Kids: Personification of Literature (one printed teacher copy from the website)

Personification (YouTube video clip of  Disney’s Beauty and the Beast)

Document Camera and projector connected to a computer (Interactive White Board is acceptable as well)

Brainstorming Graphic Organizer (two copies per student)

ReadWriteThink website for creating a personification acrostic poem as an extension activity.

Approved Date