Understanding humor devices will not only improve students’ writing skills and comprehension but will help students understand how to respond in social situations.
This lesson focuses on three humor devices:
- An understatement is when something is stated or presented with modesty or restraint, as to create a subtle or ironic effect.
- A hyperbole is an obvious and deliberate exaggeration or overstatement. It is intended for effect and not to be taken literally, such as “He had a million excuses.”
- Sarcasm is a scornfully ironic remark. The term comes from Ancient Greece. Sarcasm is an effective way to be mean to others, but the Greeks knew it could leave the user feeling a bit sore too.
This video lesson explains the difference between irony and sarcasm.
More Teaching Videos
- Have students draw illustrations of understatements, hyperbole, and sarcasm.
- Have students locate humor devices in literature. Here is a list of picture books that contain humor devices:
- Big Old Bones by Carol Carrick
- The House Gabbaleen by Lloyd Alexander
- Squiggle’s Tale by Andre Dahan
- Bewildered for Three Days: As to Why Daniel Boone Never Wore His Coonskin Cap by Andrew Glass
- Goldilocks Returns by Lisa Campbell Ernst
- Dread Pig of Night by Jean Gralley
- Mama and Me and the Model T by Faye Gibbons
- Use tall tales. Paul Bunyan, Johnny Appleseed, John Henry are all good books for students to locate examples of hyperbole.
- A Spoon in Every Bite by Joe Hayes
- Trouble with Thunder Mountain by Russell Hoban
Irony / Sarcasm
- The Full Belly Bow by Jim Aylesworth
- The Table Where Rich People Sit by Byrd Baylor
- Switch on the Night by Ray Bradbury
- The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark by Carmen Agra Deedy
- Click, Clack Moo, Cows by Doreen Cronin
- Why? by Lindsay Camp
- You’ll Drive Me Wild by Mem Fox
- Come On, Rain! by Karen Hesse
If you need some additional materials to help teach humor devices, you might like to take a look at this product on Teachers pay Teachers: