Irony Definition, Examples, and Lesson

This figurative language lesson on irony includes a free organizer and digital resource. 4th, 5th, and 6th graders will love these fun activities. This lesson covers the definition with examples appropriate for upper elementary students.Irony is a difference or contrast between expectations and realities in a circumstance.  Irony is often only recognized well after an original statement or occurrence since it often takes current events to realize the previous remark was completely wrong.


#1 – Otto Lilienthal, the creator of a flying glider, was killed by his own invention after declaring that it was one of the safest ways to travel.

#2 – A homeowner spends a year getting his home ready to sell only to sell it to a developer who…decides to tear it down to build condos.

#3 – Dorothy, Lion, Tin Man, and Scarecrow search all over Oz to find courage, a way to get home, a heart, and brains only to discover…Dorothy and her friends already had the things they looked for.

#4 – In the 1930s, the U.S. government paid workers to plant Kudzu, a vine native to Asia, over one million acres of the United States to help prevent soil erosion. The vine grew so quickly….it killed trees and plants hurting instead of helping preserve nature.

#5 – Movie Titanic

ROSE – Mr. Andrews, I did the sum in my head, and with the number of lifeboats times the capacity you mentioned… forgive me, but it seems that there are not enough for everyone aboard.

ANDREWS – About half, actually. Rose, you miss nothing, do you? In fact, I put in these new type davits, which can take an extra row of boats here.

But it was thought… by some… that the deck would look too cluttered. So I was overruled.

CAL – Waste of deck space as it is, on an unsinkable ship!

The audience knows the Titanic is going to sink and the lifeboats are going to be needed.

Free Irony Activities

Read the definition of irony and find examples with this free mini lesson on irony.
Free Mini Lesson on Irony - includes a Video, Slides, and Printables

This lesson introduces students to the concept of irony. This mini-lesson is a vocabulary-building exercise for upper elementary and middle school students.

In this mini-lesson, students watch the video. The video goes over the definition and one example. Next students pause the video to complete either the digital or printable organizer. After completing the organizer, students continue watching the video to check their responses. This mini activity is a great introduction activity to an irony unit. Activities in this free series are set up as individual lessons making them great to assign through Google Classroom.

Click here to download the free activities from Google Drive.

This is the digital version.

Here you will find the printable version.

Want to Dig Deeper?

Activity#1The Gift of the Magi Digital + Printable Story Unit - The Gift of the Magi is a heartwarming story of a young married couple who each sell his or her most prized possession to have money to buy a gift for his or her spouse. It makes a wonderful mini-unit to teach during the Christmas season.The Gift of the Magi is an excellent example of irony. Check out this free unit from my Teachers Pay Teachers store. The heartwarming story centers around a young married couple who each sell his or her most prized possession to have money to buy a gift for his or her spouse. The twist ending is ironic as both gifts end up being worthless. This wonderful story makes a great mini-unit to teach during the Christmas season.


Have students watch Alanis Morissette’s music video for Ironic.

Activity #3

TED-Ed Blog provides a lesson with Youtube videos that explains more about irony.


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