I wanted a spring writing project for my students that could connect to St. Patrick’s Day. While the exact origin of the limerick is not known, there is enough of a connection between that delightful poetic form and the county in Ireland to give us a thread to St. Patrick. What better project than to explore limericks and the art behind writing them!
Our lesson started with a review of what we already know about poetry:
Poetry is a group of words that express emotion or a thought
Sometimes poems rhyme
Sometimes poems have a rhythm
From there, we talked about lines in poetry. I displayed a poem on the projector. There's a great introduction worksheet on Scholastic Printables. I only showed my students the poem itself, without the title. My goal was to work backwards and have students tell me what they discovered instead of me telling them what to look for.
We discussed the term "lines," and students conversed with their neighbors about what "lines" might mean. We came the a conclusion that lines are the lines of words in poems. I also noted other things they noticed about the Scholastic poem:
It’s a silly story
It starts like a fairy tale almost
There are only five lines
The first and second lines rhyme
The third and fourth lines rhyme
The last line rhymes with the first and second line
We studied a few more examples from For the Love of Language: Poetry for Every Learner by Nancy E. Cecil. Cecil created a book of poems that can be used to scaffold students through the poetry process with all forms of poetry. Every activity offers a description, an easy-to-follow pattern, lead-in activities, and student-written samples.
We went back to the Scholastic worksheet and learned the academic language for what we were studying. We looked at words such as:
We read over the definition of a limerick and compared it to the notes we took. We worked together as a class to fill out the template with the word bank given on the worksheet.
Students went back to their notes to remind themselves what needed to be included when they went off to write their own limericks.
I opened the floor for free experimentation with limerick writing. I offered students a template that scaffolds them through the limerick writing process. Many chose the support, while others chose to create a limerick without the support.
I checked students' rough drafts and allowed for final publishing to be made in presentation form. I gave the class the option to create a ladybug (Ladybug Limericks) or they could create a digital version of their limerick.
The ladybug requires the following printables:
The digital version followed this format.
By the end of the lesson, students were walking out of the classroom trying to rhyme, counting syllables, and being silly with their limerick knowledge. A greater appreciation for literature? Success.
How do you teach limericks in your classroom? I’d love to hear more ideas!
Thank you for reading.