What is personification? Personification is a literary technique which attributes human characteristics to a non-living object. These characteristics include feelings, movements and speech.  

Here are some examples:

  • The sun smiled down at the children.
  • The tornado swallowed everything in its path.
  • The wind screamed in anger.
  • The abandoned house was sad and lonely.

Personification is useful in creative writing, as it is often easier to visualise something when it is compared to an emotion or action that we have experienced ourselves.

It is also used to make writing more exciting, as it manages to bring otherwise expressionless objects to life.

When do children learn about personification?

Personification is typically introduced to children in Years 4 and 5 in key stage 2 (KS2), when they are learning about other types of figurative language like similes and metaphors. Teachers will explore the use of personification within poetry, and ask children to identify when a human characteristic is being used to describe an object.

Eventually, children will be encouraged to write their own descriptions using personification. Teachers may get the class to think of all the ways a certain object can be described using human characteristics, before asking them to bring this object to life by writing their own poem.

How to help children use personification?

As personification is common in everyday expressions, it is possible that children have already experienced it being used before. Expressions they may have heard include:

  • The wind is howling.
  • Time creeps up on you.
  • New York is the city that never sleeps.
  • That chocolate cake is calling my name.

Phrases such as the ones above could provide a good starting point to introduce personification into conversations with your child.  You could also encourage them to bring to life an object in your house, such as the stairs, by assigning it human characteristics.

Another way of encouraging children to practice personification is to ask them to mind map all the different emotions, movements and sounds that humans make so that they can refer to this when describing objects in their creative writing.

How does Learning Street help children to develop their use of personification?

Our Key Stage 2 (KS2) courses gradually introduce all the main literary devices including personification. As children progress and get older so personification becomes more important.

Our bespoke creative writing course for children in Years 5 and 6 helps them to structure their writing to score high marks. We place particular emphasis in literary devices, including personification, and the role they play in developing involving descriptions.

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