Minds On

What is this text?

Examine the following text. You can read the text and/or listen to an audio version.

What type of text is it? How do you know?

“There is a Monkey in My Mind” by Georgia Heard


What is a poem?

The text that you just examined is a poem titled, “There is a Monkey in My Mind” by Georgia Heard. But what makes a poem, a poem? What is poetry?

Poetry is a type of literature that uses words for their meaning, sound, and rhythm to share specific ideas or emotions with the reader and/or listener.

A poem is the arrangement of these words, and the arrangement changes depending on the type of poem.

Apart from rhyming, poems are known for a variety of elements that help to communicate meaning. Let’s learn about some poetic tools that you might find in poems.

Elements of style

There are numerous literary devices that may be found in any given poem. For example, poets often use figurative language, which is a language that moves beyond the literal meaning of words.

Why do poets use figurative language? It’s a tool that poets use to help create a picture in the reader’s and/or listener’s mind. But it also helps to make poetry more relatable or easier to understand.

There are three main types of figurative language that we encounter in poetry: similes, metaphors, and personification.

Let’s focus on similes and metaphors first.

Similes and metaphors

A simile is a figure of speech that involves comparing one thing to another thing using the words, “like” or “as.”

Similar to a simile, a metaphor is a figure of speech that compares two or more things, but without using the words “like” or “as.” A metaphor simply states that something is something else.

Similes and metaphors have a similar purpose in poems. They activate the imagination and help to create mental images that are easier for readers and/or listeners to understand. Let’s take, for example, a line from the poem, “There is a Monkey in My Mind,” from the Minds On:

“When my mind jumps around like a monkey in a jungle trapezing from branch to branch, tree to tree—”

The use of simile here, “my mind jumps around like a monkey,” makes it easier for the reader and/or listener to create a mental image of the mind jumping around or wandering. Of course, the illustration of the monkey swinging from one branch to the next helps too.

Examine the following chart. This chart gives some examples of similes and metaphors.

"Simile and Metaphor: What’s the difference? Simile: He is as cool as a cucumber. Metaphor: He is a cool cucumber. Simile: They are as different as night and day. Metaphor: They are night and day. Simile: The classroom was as hot as an oven. Metaphor: The classroom was a hot oven."

Changing similes and metaphors

Change the following similes to metaphors and metaphors to similes. You can record your changes in the fillable and printable Changing Similes and Metaphors document or use another method of your choice.

Changing Similes and Metaphors
Simile: He was like a fish out of water. Metaphor:
Simile: The students are like jumping beans excited to get outside and play Metaphor:
Simile: Metaphor: The snow is sparkling glitter on the slopes.

Press the ‘Activity’ button to access Changing Similes and Metaphors. 

As an added challenge, can you come up with your own simile and/or metaphor? If you do, record your ideas using a method of your choice.


A poetic scavenger hunt

Use what you’ve learned about similes and metaphors to analyze a poem of your choice.

Read and/or listen to the poem. Then read and/or listen to it a second time. Record as many examples of similes, metaphors as you can find.

You can record your findings using the following fillable and printable Poem Analysis template or use another method of your choice.

Poem AnalysisPress the ‘Activity’ button to access the Poem Analysis. Activity(Open PDF in a new window)

Review your learning

Use the following questions to reflect on your learning. You can record your responses using a method of your choice.

  • How does the use of figurative language enhance the meaning of a text? Use examples from the poem you selected to explain your thinking.
  • What is an easy way to tell the difference between a simile and a metaphor?
  • Do similes and metaphors have the same effect? Why or why not?


As you read through these descriptions, which sentence best describes how you are feeling about your understanding of this learning activity? Press the button that is beside this sentence.

I feel...

Now, record your ideas using a voice recorder, speech-to-text, or writing tool.