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Proverbs and Adages (common core)

Common Core ELA Standard, 4th and 5th grade

Language - Vocabulary Acquisition and Use L5b:
Recognize and explain the meaning of common idioms, adages, and proverbs.


The early bird gets the worm.

The C.B. Greer Media Center collection includes the titles listed below on the subject of proverbs. Most of them are creatively illustrated, and they reflect perspectives from several different cultures. For some titles, we have multiple copies. The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs is best for teachers' use only. Check the Destiny catalog (home page - Quick Links) to find out availability. Books are located near the IB unit resource shelves.


A short explanation of the difference between an adage and a proverb

Work with your colleagues to create lessons that incorporate common proverbs into the iB / social studies or science units you are teaching. For example . . .

  • have groups of students work together to choose a character in a literature circle, Junior Great Books story, or anchor text and then locate (or choose from a list of common proverbs that you provide) proverbs or adages that would offer advice to that character within a certain situation in the book. Students should offer explanations of why that proverb or adage is appropriate for the character in that situation.
  • have groups of students work together to choose a historical figure (e.g., Lincoln during the Civil War) and locate (or choose from a list of common proverbs that your provide)  proverbs that would give wise guidance to the person as he/she faced a significant situation in history. Defend why those particular proverbs were chosen.
  • Depending on which Key Concepts govern your IB unit, have students locate proverbs that relate to those concepts and then draw connections between the proverb and the unit content or the unit's central idea.

Commonly used proverbs and games

Common English proverbs (see drop-down list at right)

ReadWriteThink's list of common proverbs

Short drill & practice about the meaning of proverbs

English Club's list of common proverbs

Proverbs: At Home and Around the World (read/write/think lesson; includes many helpfulweb links

Proverbs: An Introduction (read/write/think lesson—many helpful web links under resource tab)

Ben Franklin’s Philosophy Clock

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