Alliteration Meets Art

Standards Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.5; McREL Visual Arts Standard 1 (Understands and applies media, techniques, and processes related to the visual arts)

What you Need: Bleezer’s Ice Cream,” by Jack Prelutsky; paper; markers

What to Do: Joel Scholten, a K–6 art teacher at Fort Crook Elementary in Bellevue, Nebraska, and blogger at Creative Curriculum, weaves curricular concepts into art projects. Case in point: an alliteration activity for upper elementary students (based on Roger Kukes’s “Encouraging Reading Through Art” workshop).

Scholten reads the poem “Bleezer’s Ice Cream.” The class lists the flavors in the poem and decides which are alliterations. Scholten challenges kids to make up five new alliterative flavors. “To make the flavors crazy, I’ll ask them to pair one dinner flavor with one dessert flavor, such as Taco Tapioca Twist,” he says. Students then draw a five-scoop cone and write their own poems using Prelutsky’s verse\ and their own homemade flavors as inspiration.

What’s That Sound?

Standard Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.5

What you Need: Computer or interactive whiteboard with Internet access, various classroom objects to make sounds

What to Do: Plunk! Plop! Slurp! As a class, make a list of common onomatopoeias. Then, visit to access the “Exploring Onoma­topoeia” interactive activity ( Play each sound for the class, and give students time to write onomatopoeias. Invite volunteers to share their sound words. Discuss how different interpretations have different meanings. For instance, one student may use chug to describe a train sound, while another may use whoosh. Ask, “How do those two onomatopoeias give a reader different impressions of the train’s speed?” Afterward, give students a sound word and have them either describe where the sound might come from or use items in the classroom to create the sound. If you offer the word plunk, for instance, students might drop a rock into a bucket of water. Then, have students incorporate their onomatopoeias into a piece of writing—perhaps by creating a concrete poem in a shape that illustrates the word’s meaning or by designing a superhero comic strip.

Sing-Along Similes and Melodic Metaphors

Standard Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.5

What you Need: “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” recording and lyrics; highlighters

What to Do: Mary Wingert, a teacher at High Point Elementary in Gahanna, Ohio, introduces similes and metaphors to her fourth graders using BrainPOP videos and the book My Dog Is as Smelly as Dirty Socks. She then uses the song “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” to put their skills to the test. She plays a recording of the song, instructing students to listen for similes (“you’re as cuddly as a cactus”) and metaphors (“you’re a bad banana, with a greasy black peel”). Then, she hands out copies of the lyrics and asks kids to highlight the similes with one color and the metaphors with another. “After we go over the similes and metaphors, I play the song again and have students clap when they hear a metaphor and snap when they hear a simile,” says Wingert, who blogs at Fit to Be Fourth.

Edible Idioms

Standard Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.5

What you Need: Paper plates, construction paper, scissors, glue

What to Do: Jennifer O’Sullivan, a K–5 STEAM Lab teacher at A. D. Henderson University School in Boca Raton, Florida, teaches “edible idioms.” First, she has students brainstorm a list of food-related idioms (“piece of cake,” “go bananas”). Then, she gives each student a paper plate on which to write food idioms of their choosing. Students cut out shapes of food items from construction paper and paste them on the plate to match their idioms. “Once the plate is full of edible idioms, students write a story on a construction-paper napkin,” says O’Sullivan, who blogs at Suntans and Lesson Plans. “Through their own and classmates’ idioms, students became comfortable using them in everyday vocabulary.”

Personify This

Standards Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.1; W.3; L.5

What you Need: Mentor picture books that use personification

What to Do: Picture books aren’t just for younger children. They can also serve as useful mentor texts for upper elementary students. Choose several picture books that model personification. Share the books aloud with your class and identify the nonhuman objects that are given human characteristics. Ask, “If the object were a human, what adjectives would you use to describe its personality?” Then, challenge students to identify specific examples in the text—particularly the objects’ words or actions—that support their chosen adjectives.

Next, write the names of objects (for example, a stinky shoe, a beautiful sunset, a broken surfboard) on slips of paper and put the slips into a hat or container. Have each student choose a slip and then write a paragraph or two personifying the object in the first person without mentioning it by name, instead relying on word choice and actions to describe it.

After students are done, put them in small groups to share their writing. As one student reads, the rest of the group should listen and try to guess the personified object.

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Image: Courtesy of Joel Scholten