- Grade Levels
- Search Site
- Language Arts Topics
Related ela standard: rl.5.4.
When an author is looking to drive deeper meaning into their work, they will often use symbolism to drive an emotional or underlying message to their readers. This is when the author uses an object or sometimes a word in place of an abstract idea. Symbolism helps you hint rather than out right saying something. This adds a more enriching experience for the reader. This technique can help the audience grow a thicker emotional connection to a piece of work. The most common literary elements that are used to create this are allegories and metaphors. They lend themselves directly to this technique. Some major classical works including Lord of the Files and The Great Gatsby have used symbolism to connect with readers. This series of worksheets will have students identify symbolism and use it in their own work.
Symbolism Worksheets To Print:
What Do You Stand For? - We give you a visual symbol that you must explain. Study the two examples. Then fill in the remainder of the chart.
Common Symbolism in Literature - A little Shakespeare goes a long way. See if you can understand what he meant with different forms of symbols.
Symbols in Everyday Life - These are the symbols we all see, almost everyday. What do they mean after all?
What Does It Mean? - It is weird how animals have so many different meanings. Consider each of the objects and decide what they represent.
Live in Literature - Do you know the color of royalty or anger?
Raven Symbols - Edgar Allan Poe is famous for using symbolism in his stories and poetry.
Lord of the Flies - Explain the symbolism of each of the following items from Lord of the Flies.
Symbolism in The Giver - Discuss the meaning of each of the following symbols in Lois Lowry's The Giver.
Colors as Symbols - To get you started thinking about symbolism, answer the following questions for each color.
Symbols Worksheet - How do you know when something is used as a symbol in a text?
What It Signifies - In the right-hand column, write down what you think each object symbolizes or suggests.
Think Like a Writer - Sometimes a writer uses symbols to express abstract ideas in a story.
Literary Symbols - Read the passages below. Can you identify the symbols? What do they mean?
Symbolism in Poetry - Discuss the symbolic meaning of the colors (green and gold) in the poem.
The Tyger - Read the poem. Think about the idea of the tiger and the lamb in the poem. Are they symbols?
What is Symbolism?
Symbolism is the use of a single word or an object to represent the whole idea. In literature, symbolism is used in stories, fiction, poetry, and other written content. Symbolism is a part of speech in which the actual meaning of something is different than the meaning intended. Other two important parts of speech simile and metaphor also fall in the category of symbolism. Symbolism is used to develop beauty, avoid repetition and to simplify the sentences. Usually, some colors, flowers, weather are also used to symbolize an idea. Given below are some tips that will help one a lot to achieve symbolism in writing:
Using Colors for Symbolism
Colors, when used in art, represent different emotions and attitudes. Similarly while writing, writers can use colors to represent different ideas. For example, the color red is used to represent anger or aggressiveness, blue represents peace, green represents nature, pink symbolizes love, yellow symbolizes joy, purple represents spirituality, lavender symbolizes feminist, etc.
Using Flowers for Symbolism
Flowers not only beautify nature but also are used to increase the beauty of written content. Roses represent romance, violets represent shyness, lily symbolizes beauty, orchid for love, sunflower for opportunities, anemone for anticipation, etc.
Using Animals for Symbolism
A writer can also use the name of an animal to represent or symbolize an idea. Some common animals used for symbolism are a horse for power, snake for selfishness, dove for peace, dog for loyalty and faith, bear for danger, a lion for bravery and courage, an owl for wisdom or intuition, tiger for power, butterfly for transformation, etc.
Using Weather for Symbolism
Weathers also can represent differences ideas or fillings. For example, autumn stands for sadness, spring for happiness and colors, snow for purity, fog for something bad to happen, wind for power, thunderstorm for hostility, etc.
Teachers: Upgrade Now
- Print all 25,000+ worksheets
- All grade levels and topics
- Save endless hours of your time...
- Answers to everything too!
Get FREE English Worksheets In Your Email
- How We Are Aligned To The Common Core
- Educator Resources
© English Worksheets Land . All rights reserved.
- English Language Arts
- Graphic Organizers
- Social Studies
- Teacher Printables
- Foreign Language
Home > English Language Arts Worksheets > Symbolism
If you have used our activity sheet sets on similes and metaphors, then you have already introduced your students to two forms of symbolism. In many cases, authors will use symbolism to allude to real life events in a fictitious setting. This set of activity sheets covers several different types of symbolism. Answer sheets have been provided for worksheets for instructors, but please note that in some cases, your students' answers will vary.
Symbolism started as a French literary movement in the late 1800s. It later caught on in the art world and the rest is history.
Get Free Worksheets In Your Inbox!
Printable symbolism worksheets, click the buttons to print each worksheet and answer key., from bathroom signs to our computers.
Study the symbols below. What does each symbol mean to you?
Symbolism in A Midsummer Night's Dream
In each instance, the moon is being used as a symbol. Explain the symbolism.
Symbolism in To Kill a Mockingbird
What is the predominant symbol in the story, and what does it represent?
Consider each of the animals below. What could they symbolize? Explain. If you have seen this animal used symbolically in literature before, describe where you saw it and what it symbolized.
Color as Symbol in Literature
Symbolism is a type of figurative language. Like a metaphor, a symbol is identified with something that is very different but shares some of the same qualities. Colors are commonly used as symbols in literature.
Symbolism in Lord of the Flies
A symbol is a thing that represents or stands for something else, especially a material object that represents something abstract.
As you read, use this sheet to take note of the symbols that you encounter.
The Four Seasons
Seasons are often used symbolically in literature to represent the different stages of life. Think about what occurs in each season of the year. Then fill in the table to explain how the four seasons might be used symbolically.
Practice identifying symbols. Read each passage. Identify the symbol, and explain what you think it means.
Many of the items below are often used symbolically in literary text. Discuss some common interpretations of these symbols.
Symbolism in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
A helpful outline for you to run along with the book.
Using Symbols When You Write
Consider each of the abstract ideas below. Can you think of an object that could work as a symbol in a story that has this as a theme? Write your ideas on the line.
Symbolism and Allegory in "The Lottery"
Discuss how each of the items below functions as symbol or allegory in Shirley Jackson's story.
Symbolism in Great Expectations
Discuss the symbolic meaning of the following items in Charles Dickens' Great Expectations.
A Christmas Carol
Read the passage. Identify the symbol at work in the passage. Based on your understanding of the story so far, discuss the meaning and the importance of the symbol.
About these 15 worksheets.
These worksheets help you understand and practice identifying symbols in literature or visual representations. Symbolism is the use of symbols to represent ideas, qualities, or concepts beyond their literal meaning. Symbols are objects, images, or actions that have a deeper, often metaphorical significance.
To explain symbolism, let’s look at an example – Imagine a story where a character releases a caged bird into the sky. In this story, the bird could symbolize freedom, hope, or a new beginning. By releasing the bird, the author uses it as a symbol to convey a deeper meaning or message about the character’s emotions or the overall theme of the story.
Symbolism worksheets provide exercises and activities that help you recognize, identify, and interpret symbols in literature or visual representations. These worksheets often contain examples of symbols, and you have to analyze their meanings or find symbols in given passages or images.
By working on symbolism worksheets, you can:
Identify Symbols – Symbolism worksheets help you develop the skill of recognizing symbols in literature or visual representations. By reading passages or examining images, you learn to identify objects, images, or actions that represent or stand for something beyond their literal meaning. This skill allows you to appreciate the layers of meaning and the use of symbolism in creative works.
Interpret Symbolic Meaning – Symbolism worksheets allow you to explore the deeper meanings behind symbols. You learn to analyze the context, themes, and characters to understand the symbolic significance of objects or actions. By interpreting symbols, you gain insight into the author’s intention and the broader messages or themes conveyed in the work.
Enhance Critical Thinking – Working on symbolism worksheets fosters critical thinking skills. Symbolism encourages you to look beyond the surface level of a text or image and consider the underlying meanings and connections. It prompts you to analyze and interpret the symbolic language used by the author or artist, encouraging a deeper understanding and engagement with the work.
Appreciate Metaphorical Language – Symbolism helps you appreciate the power of metaphorical language. Symbols add depth and complexity to a story or artwork by conveying abstract ideas or emotions through concrete representations. By exploring symbolism, you develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for the artistry and creativity in expressing meaning through metaphor.
Connect with Themes and Messages – Symbols connect readers or viewers with the themes and messages conveyed in the work. By representing larger ideas or concepts, symbols enable a deeper emotional or intellectual connection. Symbols help convey universal human experiences or concepts, fostering empathy and understanding.
Why Do Authors Use Symbolism In Their Work?
Authors use symbolism in their work for several reasons:
Enhancing Depth and Meaning – Symbolism adds depth and layers of meaning to the text. By using symbols, authors can convey abstract ideas, emotions, or concepts in a more evocative and powerful way. Symbols allow authors to communicate complex or universal themes that may be difficult to express directly.
Invoking Emotions and Imagination – Symbols have the power to evoke emotions and engage the reader’s imagination. They can elicit a strong emotional response or create a sense of intrigue, mystery, or wonder. Symbols tap into the reader’s subconscious and invite them to make personal connections and interpretations, enhancing the overall reading experience.
Creating Visual and Sensory Imagery – Symbols create visual and sensory imagery that helps readers visualize and experience the text. By using objects, images, or actions as symbols, authors can paint vivid mental pictures or engage readers’ senses. Symbols make the writing more memorable and immersive, allowing readers to connect with the story on a deeper level.
Conveying Universal Themes and Ideas – Symbols have the ability to transcend cultural, geographical, and temporal boundaries. They can convey universal themes, ideas, or human experiences that resonate with readers across different backgrounds. Symbols enable authors to communicate messages that are relevant and meaningful to a wide range of readers.
Encouraging Interpretation and Engagement – Symbolism encourages readers to actively engage with the text and participate in its interpretation. Symbols invite readers to analyze, question, and seek deeper meanings. They stimulate critical thinking and encourage readers to explore the connections between symbols and the larger context of the work.
Adding Layers of Subtext – Symbols can be used to convey subtext or hidden meanings beneath the surface of the narrative. They can represent underlying themes, character motivations, or social or political commentary. Symbols allow authors to communicate ideas in a subtle and nuanced manner, inviting readers to explore the underlying layers of the story.
Creating Unity and Coherence – Symbols can be used to unify and provide coherence to a work of literature. They can serve as recurring motifs that tie different elements of the story together, creating a sense of unity and reinforcing thematic or narrative threads. Symbols help structure and organize the narrative, enhancing its overall impact.
symbolism worksheet ela
Resource types, all resource types, symbolism worksheet ela.
- Rating Count
- Price (Ascending)
- Price (Descending)
- Most Recent
Song Titles | Main Idea and Symbolism | Language Arts Worksheets
- Internet Activities
Teaching Symbolism Activity & Worksheet | Focus Lesson for ANY Novel
A Jury of Her Peers: Inferences, Symbolism , Irony, Philosophical Chairs
"The Diving Board" by Shel Silverstein Symbolism and Theme Analysis Worksheet
- Word Document File
World Flags & Symbolism - Presentation + Worksheet BUNDLE
SYMBOLS/ SYMBOLISM : Mini-lesson, cheat sheet, worksheet + ANSWERS! (RL. 9-10.2)
The Great Gatsby COLOR SYMBOLISM Worksheets | Four Handouts | QUOTATION ANALYSIS
Symbolism Worksheet Bundle
100 Page Language Arts Worksheet Bundle Internet Research for Middle and High
Moana Movie Guide Plot Mountain Symbolism Hero's Journey Worksheet HW Project
- Google Slides™
Symbolism in Literature: Lesson, Game, Worksheets , Poster AND MORE BUNDLE!
Shrek Movie Guide Plot Mountain Symbolism Hero's Journey Worksheet HW Project
Literary Devices Figures of Speech Coloring Worksheets for Middle School ELA
Symbolism in Literature: Worksheet and Writing Activity!
- Google Docs™
Coco Movie Guide Plot Mountain Symbolism Hero's Journey Worksheet HW Project
"They're Made Out of Meat" ELA Worksheets
Introduction to Symbolism Worksheet
Great Gatsby Symbolism Worksheet
Outsiders Symbolism Worksheet
Fahrenheit 451 Phoenix Symbolism Worksheet
Lord of the Flies Symbolism Worksheet
- Google Drive™ folder
- We're hiring
- Help & FAQ
- Student privacy
- Terms of service
- Tell us what you think
- Skip to primary navigation
- Skip to main content
- Skip to primary sidebar
- Classroom Ideas
- Teacher’s Life
- Deals & Shopping
26 Symbolism Passages for Middle School
July 8, 2022 // by Jill Webb
The literary element of symbolism in literature can be hard for middle school students to comprehend since it takes concrete language and turns it into abstract ideas. They need to be able to understand a passage's literal meaning (denotation) versus the idea or feeling that it symbolizes or evokes (connotation).
These selected passages, which vary in level of difficulty, focus on identifying common symbols that students will come in contact with. Below you will find 26 passages that are relevant to the symbolism literary element - from short stories, poems, and excerpts - these are great for 5th grade through 8th grade.
1. The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
This short story is great for literary analysis of symbolism. There are three main symbols: the piece of paper with the dot, the stone, and the box. These symbols are heavily related to the theme of the story, which is that of traditions and rituals.
Learn More: Abe Books
2. The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant
The title of the story is the main symbolic meaning. The necklace represents all that Mathilde wants but does not have. It also represents her greed. On the other side there is the jacket her husband gifts her, which is representative of their life of no social status. There are many more symbols that can be explored in this story; including the characters themselves.
Learn More: Danny Ballan
3. Barter by Sara Teasdale
Teasdale writes the poem as if the world is actually selling us things. However, that is the symbolism - that there is a lot in this world to love and be grateful for...if we take the opportunity. Students should easily be able to point out the items that bring joy but will need to dig deeper to find the true meaning.
Learn More: Poetry Foundation
4. The Jacket by Gary Soto
In this story, the Jacket is the main symbol. However, students will have to really think about it's meaning, as it has more than one. The jacket not only symbolizes the poverty of his family but also his thoughts on appearance and his own self-confidence.
Learn More: Common Lit
5. Through the Tunnel by Doris Lessing
The story is one of growing up - from boy to man. It has many symbols that represent this struggle. For example, there is a rocky area before the tunnel that the other boys swim through, leaving Jerry behind - representing he is still a child. Then there is the tunnel itself, which is a symbol of his path to maturity.
Learn More: Good Reads
6. The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus
The poem is very interesting as it compares two different statues - the Statue of Liberty and the Colossus of Rhodes. Students will have to examine what these two symbols stand for throughout the poem and why they are so very different.
Learn More: Poets
7. The Scarlet Ibis by James Hurst
This story is filled with tons of symbolism and is great for when first teaching the literary element if you only want one focus. It has a parallel with a main character Doodle and the Ibis..and ultimately death. It heavily uses the color red or words related to it like blood, and many other symbols as well (the barn, the coffin, bleeding tree, grindstone, etc).
Learn More: The Atlantic
8. The Nightingale and the Rose by Oscar Wilde
Look for the hidden meanings behind the many symbols in Wilde's story. The title itself - the rose and nightingale are symbols - but also the blue silk represents the materialism of the girl and the oak tree representing friendship. Students will have no trouble finding symbols!
9. The Happy Man's Shirt retold by Shirin Sabri
Use this text to identify symbols in fiction folklore and for a comprehension lesson on the concepts of Theme. The story tells of a material object that does not bring happiness or that is something that can't be bought. The shirt being the main symbol, make sure students pay attention to it.
Learn More: Choral Tales
10. Thumbprint by Eve Merriam
The symbol for this poem is given - it's the title. However, what does this symbol represent? Students will need to use the words throughout the poem to decipher the potential meanings the author is trying to convey.
Learn More: Poetry By Heart
11. The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin
The symbolism of the setting is important here. For example, the room in which Louise opens the window is representing freedom and the changing weather. Louise's "heart trouble" is also a symbol of the role of women in the Victorian era and the longing for freedom.
Learn More: Owl Eyes
12. Eleven by Sandra Cisneros
This is an easy read and nice for an introduction lesson plan on meaningful symbolism. Students will gain a better understanding of symbolism, as the reading is relatable and not a very complex text. The symbols include red, which is all that is bad and birthday-related items (cake, birthday song), which are comforting.
Learn More: Serflo1
13. Thank You, M'am, by Langston Hughes
A favorite lesson for many busy teachers is "Thank You M'am". The famous poem holds a ton of symbolic significance about growth, desires, and opportunity. Reflection questions can also be used with symbolism to discuss the moral of the poem.
14. The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allen Poe
Poe's short story is rich in symbolism and intellectual rigor; especially for learning the concept of color symbolism. The seven rooms are all different colors with different meanings. Plus the other symbols like the clock (passing of time), the abbey (being trapped), and death itself. There are so many symbols that it might be helpful to complete an anchor chart as you read.
Learn More: Poemuseum
15. Identity by Julio Noboa Polancos
A great addition to a poetry unit, this poem uses the description of a weed as its symbol. Students will need to look for the deeper meaning - a symbol of non-conformity.
Learn More: Owlcation
16. Fish Cheeks by Amy Tan
Tan uses symbols of culture, both Chinese (fish heads, belching) and American (mini skirt), to write this short story. The worksheet also comes with comprehension questions and multiple-choice questions.
Learn More: Mr. Fernando Ferrer
17. The Fun They Had by Isaac Asimov
A good passage for younger middle schoolers like 5th and 6th Grade, this story is high-interest science fiction. It is set in the future using books and telebooks as the main symbols of the past and present.
18. The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell
A fiction story and an exciting read. The color red and blood are common symbols representing the violence and dangers of being hunted. As well as the symbols of civilization (mansion) and the wild (the island). It is a bit longer of a read so you may want to take more than one class period.
Learn More: American Literature
19. Big Mother by Anya Ow
The read is great for learning about literary symbols and imagery in the digital classroom because it also comes in a podcast. The story tells of young friends trying to catch Big Mother, a fish that represents much more than fun and food, but change and aging.
Learn More: Strange Horizons
20. The Flowers by Alice Walker
An allegory about innocence and the end of childhood that includes several examples of symbolism. For example, the flowers, noose, dead man, the woods, the end of summer, and the pink rose. It would be helpful to have students keep a graphic organizer with the symbols and then find their meaning.
Learn More: D.UMN Edu
21. Snow White by The Brothers Grimm
A well known story that works well with substitute teachers, Snow White uses the predominant symbol of red and white. The significance of colors is that red is the symbol of darkness and white of good. These color symbols play a key role in the story and students can easily pull direct quotes from the story comparing the two.
Learn More: World Of Tales
22. Caged Bird by Maya Angelou
A famous poem and a favorite of fans of symbolism that students will need to comprehend on a deeper level. Angelou uses the bird and cage as a symbol of freedom and oppression. You may want to teach them a dash of history on Angelou before reading the poem for some context.
Learn More: Family Friend Poems
23. Four Skinny Trees by Sandra Cisneros
A vignette from the favorite book, "House on Mango Street" and a high-interest reading passage that teaches symbolism and personification. A key passage in the book touches on the meaning of the tress to Esperanza.
Learn More: WR School
24. A Song in the Front Yard by Gwendolyn Brooks
Students will have to look at different forms of symbols as the narrator tells her story, comparing the front (good) and backyard (bad). Encourage student engagement by asking them prior to reading what they know about front and backyards.
25. Two Kinds by Amy Tan
A chapter passage that is taken from Tan's book, "Joy Luck Club". The symbols, which are many: songs, Shirley Temple, piano, a house, etc are used to understand the conflict between Jing Mei versus her mother. The reading can be used to answer questions on symbolism and conflict.
Learn More: Campus Press Yale
26. Wild Asters by Sara Teasdale
A legendary poem, where the meaning shifts quickly, as it is very short, but says a lot. It goes from the blossoms of life and within a few lines to death. An easy read and simple introduction to symbolism in poetry.
Learn More: All Poetry