“Children see magic because they look for it.” Christopher Moore

Raining Cats and Dogs
By Grace – age 7
copyright Dono

This hyperbole meaning torrential rains has probably around since the sixteen hundreds according to Charles Earle Funk in his book Heavens to Betsy & Other Curious Sayings.

We don’t use it much anymore, which seems a shame. It’s such a colourful, playful expression conjuring up a comical vision in our imagination. It’s one of my favourites for teaching students about idioms.

What is an idiom? It’s an expression or a phrase where the meaning cannot be determined by the individual words. It’s what everyone struggles with the most, when learning a new language.


On a piece of drawing paper, draw a picture illustrating the meaning of the idiom. For example with raining cats and dogs, put the saying at the top of the page, then draw a scene in which it is dark and stormy and the rain is pouring down like crazy.

On a second paper, draw a picture of the literal meaning of the phrase. This would show cats and dogs literally raining from the sky!

Of course, the idea of drawing the literal meaning is not a new one. Many picture books have done just that. Check out the  ones below for a few excellent examples.













Monkey Business by Wallace Edwards

In A Pickle By Marbin Terban

There’s a Frog in My Throat by Loreen Leedy

You Are What You Eat by Serge Bloch

After the students have completed their illustrations, compile them together into a great classroom book that helps teach the meaning of idioms. This is a wonderful resource for those students who have English as a second language.

Have fun and look for the magic!

Published by Lois Donovan

Author of historical time travels, THE JOURNAL and WINDS OF L'ACADIE, Lois is in demand as a speaker/presenter at literary conferences and young writers' conferences and teachers conventions. Lois grew up primarily in Riverview, New Brunswick, but has called Calgary home for many years. Currently, Lois enjoys life in Calgary with her husband, daughter, son and daughter-in-law.

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