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Language Arts and Poetry

Compiled By: Meggin

Language Arts lessons become more engaging when combined with a poetry activity.

Posted by: Cathy

I just had my students complete prepositional poems in small groups. Here is the one I used for an example:

At the Beach

at the beach
amid many sunbathers
on my blanket
with my book
in the beautiful sunshine

is my favorite place to relax!

I had the kids work in groups of 4 or 5. They had to choose a topic and then each had to write a prepositional phrase then pass the paper along to the next student. After I edited these, I gave them chart paper and markers. They had to copy the poem onto the chart paper and illustrate it. They did a beautiful job on these! My favorite was from a BOY who did his own for extra credit:

At the Mall

at the mall
with my mom
near the dressing room
in the ladies clothing department
around the perfume and jewelry

is the WORST place for me to be!!

I cracked up! So did his classmates when he read it. At first they didn't realize the slant he had taken and actually thought . . . What a funny kid he is!

nouns and verbs
Posted by: Cheryl

This year while reviewing nouns and verbs we did several things that were fun:
*I put nouns cards in a bag-students reached in and had to act out that noun for the class to guess-in the beginning we said if it was a person, place, or thing
*I linked it with poetry by doing acrostics or stand up poems - after modeling how to-they each did a person, place and thing acrostic poem

*same as above for acting out

*taught them how to use a thesaurus to find vivid verbs

*we did verb poems- they thought of a person- mom, dad, fireman etc and then listd all the actions that that person could do.
ex. Mrs. Silva
assits, ...
and cares!

after doing n and v, I had them draw a noun out of one bag and a verb out of the other-they had to get us to figure out who or what they were and what their action was. this came up with some silly combinations which they thought were great

after you introduce the major parts try doing some Mad Libs to reinforce-they love the results!!!!

Posted by: tia

just did this with my sixth graders:

put on some interesting instrumental music--i found some african drum music on itunes--have students draw on paper (i told mine NO concrete pictures--only abstract).

then have a gallery stroll--give every child set of tiny post-its--at each artwork, they write one (positive, school-appropriate) adjective to describe the art and post on BACK of art.

then students get their own and (1) make sure all are adjectives--if not, discard and (2) rearrange to make a poem--then rewrite. i gave my kids the option of adding A FEW other words to make statements. (in my example, i used only the adjectives, but i made the title: Life in the Big City)

another idea: give them magazines and have them cut out pictures and then give the pictures adjectives. (ad for hair product: clean, shiny, brown, short....)

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Action poems
Posted by: Cathy

I just did action poems with my fourth graders but I'm sure you could do them as a shared writing with your grade 1's. They are easy and fun. Here is an example of an action poem:

Dogs are for hugging after a bad day,
Dogs are for chasing when you're at play,
Dogs are for training which can be tough,
Dogs are for loving, you can't get enough!

Basically, you choose a topic and think of 4 action verbs with -ing endings. You rhyme the first two and the second two. When we did these, I modeled a few, we did parter readings of the ones I wrote. (They are good for practicing fluency!) Then, we brainstormed a list of topics. We did one together as a shared writing. Then, kids got with partners and wrote one as a team. They had to read it to the class as a team. Finally, they wrote one on their own. Then, they illustrated a border to go around their final written or typed poem. They did an awesome job and it was so easy for me to edit because they're short poems.

Posted by: Kathy

I taught third grade for nine years and we always did a variety of things with writing. We did use journals. At the beginning of the year I did give them almost daily prompts. It helped me to get to know them better. Some sample prompts would be: After school I like to... The best field trip I ever took was... One thing I like to do with my family is.... I would encourage them to write at least a paragraph.

And, yes, I tried to respond to them almost every time so that they could see they were writing to a "real" audience. One of my first assignments was to have them write me a letter and tell me about themselves. I always took the time to write back to them and pasted my letter under theirs in the journal. (It was rather time consuming--but went faster when I did it via computer and then "cut and paste" my replies into the journals.)

I also had them write a letter to their parents for Back to School night (Only parents came in this particular school and we had a chance to talk to the group of parents about goals, routines, etc.) They left their journals out on their desks open to their letters and I encouraged the parents to write back. (Another "real" audience!) They really wrote some very affirming notes to the children.

After the first few weeks I used journals intermittently in connection with things we were studying about or reading. It's a good way to get them to clarify their thinking. We would do this at least twice a week.

I also had the children do a Writing Workshop 3 days a week for 45 minutes where they could choose their own topics and go through the writing process. This seems to be a great favorite. In fact, when I left the school a parent had students from the nine years I taught write me notes and Writing Workshop was one of the things that was mentioned most often! And my 3-4 students this year are extremely upset if anything keeps them from Writing Workshop. (It's almost as sacred to them as P.E. or recess!!)

Another thing I loved to do with them was a lot of poetry. The thing I love about poems is that it teaches them to write descriptively, use word wisely, and learn rhythm. Also, since poems are shorter, it's easier for them to take a poem through the whole process and come up with a finished product.

I used pattern poems at first. For example, The Leaf Lullaby.
___________, __________ leaf, ______________
___________ ________ into your _______ bed.
Dream of _________________________________.
__________, __________leaf, _____________

I would play some soft music and they would pretend to be leaves floating down from the tree. (Being able to stand on their chair was a big hit!) Then we would brainstorm lists of words. How does a leaf move? Float, glide, twirl, whirl, slide, flip.... Then make a list of adverbs...gently, quietly, softly, rapidly, gracefully.... Some words that tell how a leaf looks beautiful, golden, oak, maple.... Then we might talk about what a leaf might dream of.

The finished product might look something like this:
Whirl, golden leaf, whirl.
Twirl silently into your leafy bed.
Dream of warm summer days.
Whirl, golden leaf, whirl.

This--along with a number of other writing patterns--is found in the book: Writing and Art Go Hand in Hand. It's filled with forms like these along with neat art projects to illustrate them.

I use these sparingly and always encourage a child to make variations if they wish, but I've found that rather than stifling creativity it almost guarantees success. Even the most reluctant writer can pull out a pretty decent "word picture" just by using words from the brainstorm list. And most of them go way beyond!

Well, didn't mean to go on and on...but would encourage you to use a variety of writing with your third graders. Think you'll love it. I sure did!

poetry is fun
Posted by: Leisa

Too bad your unit focuses so little on writing. I did a unit for the first time last year with my third graders after spring break. I thought they'd be too tired of school to work very hard, but this unit was the highlight of my year. They wrote THE MOST creative, beautiful things and for the first time all year, I couldn't wait to come to school every day! I'll share what I did even though it's focused on writing. Each child ended up with a poetry booklet - the pages were the size of half an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper. The first page told what a haiku was (the "formula" if you will), the second page was their written haiku. Third page was the definition of a cinquain, or diamonte, etc. followed by their work. Before we even started the unit, the children came up with lists of nouns, adjectives, verbs which I copied on large paper for their reference when they began to write. I looked on the internet for types of poetry and the definitions/formulas. I used about 6 or 7 types of poetry. I'd put up the definition or formula - copied in marker on large paper, and a sample of a poem that fit that type - then they'd go to work. We'd share some that day, review the formula, sample, let them write a few more and share. They'd pick their favorite to edit for spelling, and I'd give them a sheet of paper to write it neatly for their booklet. They loved, loved, loved doing this! It's entirely possible that when I get to this unit this spring, my class this year will be a different group and not get into it - that's how it goes from year to year. Good luck. Try some websites that have lesson plans for teachers such as and I believe Proteacher have lesson plan ideas. I teach in North Carolina and poetry is part of the 3rd grade curriculum, so you could go to our state idea page at

Posted by: Lona

Every Thursday for morning work I pass out a poem. They are to find something specific that goes along with what we are teaching at the time, or it could be a review. For example I have them circle verbs, underline adjectives, nouns, etc. I then have them color in the border and put it into their poetry notebook.
Check out Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky, poems in the Mailbox magazines, and there is also a book, I think it is titled A Poem a Day. Hope this helps.

bulletin boards
Posted by: Michelle

Also try autobiography poems.
First Name
Four adjectives
Brother of or Sister of
Lover of three different things
Who feels three different feelings
Who needs three different things and why
Who gives three different things the person
Who fears three different fears
Who would like to see three differenet things the person would like to see
Who lives a brief description of where the person lives
Last name

Add that to a baby picture and you have a board.

All about me brochures made out of construction paper. Students cut out different images from magzines and paste them on a piece of paper folded like a brochure. Each picture represents something about them and should have a caption. It's colorful and can be hung from the ceiling.

Heroes & Heroines we know... They can write up the people in their lives that represent qualities you discuss with them. Under each quality will go a picture. It's very apropos now.

Books we read this summer or plan to read. They can also make book jackets of themselves as if they were the book.

Good luck!

Water Poetry
Posted by: Heidi

My kids loved when i taught them about Onomatopoeia (NOt sure if I spelled it correctly). It is a poetry technique where the author used words that actually sound like a sound effect. I tolk kids to think about comic books. They read WHAM! and what other sound effects do they recall? I started by brainstorming on the board, then asked them to choose one example of Onomatopoeia and illustrate it as if it were to appear in a comic book. I only gave them a small half page to so it in, but it also had to be colourful and designed to represent the sound it makes. (warm up)

Next, I introduced the idea of water sounds. We talked about what it might look like to have a shape poem about water too. (I made one of water going in circles as it heading down the drain for them to see on overhead.) We brainstormed, and I read a couple of poems with words like trickle, drip, drop, splat, gurgle, etc. The kids then worked on creating a water poem, as creative as they'd like.

I set it up as a PIG activity (which my administrator loved) by drawing a cute PIG head on the board. They get very excited to do PIG activities because they get to decide whether they would prefer to work with a Partner, Individually, or in a Group of no more than 3 (PIG). Do this a few times before observation so they get really used to the routine and get psyched about seeing the PIG... it's good for show!!!

I let them go anywhere in the room to work, in a whisper, with the condition that each group had to produce one water poem that they would share. The kids were loving it, very engaged. Then we took the time to share the poems with the class. We typed them up during a different class time and made a big bulletin board display of them with a blurb about Onomatopoeia.

Poetry with Students
Posted by: Sammi

In my opinion, we need to immerse our students in poetry. They need to be reading it, writing it, listening to it, reciting it, and transcribing it. In fact, just this year I've started doing a weekly Poetry Transcription with my 4th graders. Each of my students have a folder set aside only for poetry. Once a week, I choose a poem to read aloud to them and they transcribe the poem. On the first reading, they are just listening. On the second reading, they transcribe. I tell them exactly how to arrange each stanza, where line breaks are, how to spell each word, where to punctuate and capitalize. The third read, they follow along as I read the poem again. They love doing it. Not at first, but it has grown on them. While doing this activity, I'm teaching listening skills, trust, literary elements, rhythm, and etc. Best of all, at the end of the year, my students will each have an anthology of poetry of their very own. I hope this helps.