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February 7, 2017 Exploring Mood in Robert Frost’s Snowy Woods By Mary Blow
Grades 6–8

    Winter is almost over, and what better way to end the season than exploring mood in Robert Frost’s poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” illustrated by Susan Jeffers? Frost develops the mood using a smorgasbord of literary techniques: word choice, setting, imagery, and sound. Let’s enjoy a few snowy days with this lesson to help students better understand how mood is developed.

    Essential Question: How do authors create mood?

    Objective: Explain how Robert Frost develops the mood in “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” illustrated by Susan Jeffers. 

    Before Reading Activities

    Meet the Author

    This activity is optional, but I like to introduce my students to authors before reading their work. Biography.com has a great, short video — Robert Frost – Mini Biography — that summarizes the important events and accomplishments in our beloved American poet’s life. While watching the video, students record their favorite fun fact to share about Frost.

     

    What is Mood?

    Introduce or review the definition of mood and the techniques that authors use to create mood with this fabulous Scholastic Scope video What's the Mood? (September 2016). My sixth graders loved this video because it simplifies a complex concept.

    Mood in Art

    Picture books, like poetry, are to be savored over and over, which is why we begin by analyzing how Jeffers creates mood with her illustrations. I ask my students, “How do the images make you feel?” I explain that art and text are similar because both illicit mood from the viewer.

    During Reading Activities

    Identify the Mood

    During the first reading, ask students to think about the overall mood of the poem. I like to read a poem aloud during the first read, modeling how to read the punctuation. In pairs, they discuss the man’s feelings and determine if they feel the same way or differently. I clarify that sometimes the reader’s feeling can be similar to a speaker’s feelings, or they can be different, depending on the topic. 

    Next, we expand our mood vocabulary and create word bank for classroom discussions. Students brainstorm a list of words to describe their feelings (the mood) while reading. Common mood descriptions are sad, lonely, thoughtful, etc.  Use Thesausus.com to look up synonyms to enrich discussion and writing vocabulary. A list of possible synonyms includes: peaceful, pensive, serene, solemn, speculative, tranquil, and wistful. Feel free to download the mood word wall cards that I created using Scholastic’s Word Workshop. You can have students add their own words using these printable blank word cards with snowflake borders. We love Quizlet activities, so I created a list of words: Mood Vocabulary – “Stopping by Wood on Snowy Evening.” Feel free to use it in your classroom. 

    During a second reading, have the students identify text evidence to support the mood, writing the text details in the mood graphic organizer. When finished, my students use the details in the graphic organizer to compose the written response — a paragraph.

     

    After Reading Activities

    Written Responses 

    Below are possible written response assignments designed to meet the needs of different level learners and varying instructional goals:

    1. Write a paragraph explaining how Frost uses word choice, setting, or imagery to develop the mood in the poem. 
    2. Write an essay comparing and contrasting how the settings in Owl Moon by Jane Yolen and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Frost contribute to the mood. 
    3. Analyze the mood in the poem’s original format. Then read the picture book. Compare the interpretation of the mood to Jeffers’s interpretation, which is depicted in her artwork. 
    4. Write a snowy day poem mimicking the literary techniques that Frost uses to establish mood in his poem. 

     

    Enrichment

    • Students create a snowy scenery background using watercolors. The colors in the scene reflect the mood in the poem they wrote when mimicking Frost’s techniques. Instruct them to use darker blues for a more solemn mood or lighter blues for a lighthearted mood. While the watercolor is wet, sprinkle it with salt. The salt will absorb the paint, leaving a snowy effect. After the paint dries, gently rub off the salt. Once the painting dries, students should write their poems on the paintings.

     

    • If you don’t have watercolor materials, students can take a digital picture of a snowy scenery and create meme poems, layering text over the image. Your techy kids will love it.
    • Research and plan a trip to tour Frost’s home and museum in New Hampshire. Include: locations, map, local highlights, lodging, and expenses.

     

    Robert Frost Resources

    The resources below are perfect for expanding this activity into an author study.

    Winter is almost over, and what better way to end the season than exploring mood in Robert Frost’s poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” illustrated by Susan Jeffers? Frost develops the mood using a smorgasbord of literary techniques: word choice, setting, imagery, and sound. Let’s enjoy a few snowy days with this lesson to help students better understand how mood is developed.

    Essential Question: How do authors create mood?

    Objective: Explain how Robert Frost develops the mood in “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” illustrated by Susan Jeffers. 

    Before Reading Activities

    Meet the Author

    This activity is optional, but I like to introduce my students to authors before reading their work. Biography.com has a great, short video — Robert Frost – Mini Biography — that summarizes the important events and accomplishments in our beloved American poet’s life. While watching the video, students record their favorite fun fact to share about Frost.

     

    What is Mood?

    Introduce or review the definition of mood and the techniques that authors use to create mood with this fabulous Scholastic Scope video What's the Mood? (September 2016). My sixth graders loved this video because it simplifies a complex concept.

    Mood in Art

    Picture books, like poetry, are to be savored over and over, which is why we begin by analyzing how Jeffers creates mood with her illustrations. I ask my students, “How do the images make you feel?” I explain that art and text are similar because both illicit mood from the viewer.

    During Reading Activities

    Identify the Mood

    During the first reading, ask students to think about the overall mood of the poem. I like to read a poem aloud during the first read, modeling how to read the punctuation. In pairs, they discuss the man’s feelings and determine if they feel the same way or differently. I clarify that sometimes the reader’s feeling can be similar to a speaker’s feelings, or they can be different, depending on the topic. 

    Next, we expand our mood vocabulary and create word bank for classroom discussions. Students brainstorm a list of words to describe their feelings (the mood) while reading. Common mood descriptions are sad, lonely, thoughtful, etc.  Use Thesausus.com to look up synonyms to enrich discussion and writing vocabulary. A list of possible synonyms includes: peaceful, pensive, serene, solemn, speculative, tranquil, and wistful. Feel free to download the mood word wall cards that I created using Scholastic’s Word Workshop. You can have students add their own words using these printable blank word cards with snowflake borders. We love Quizlet activities, so I created a list of words: Mood Vocabulary – “Stopping by Wood on Snowy Evening.” Feel free to use it in your classroom. 

    During a second reading, have the students identify text evidence to support the mood, writing the text details in the mood graphic organizer. When finished, my students use the details in the graphic organizer to compose the written response — a paragraph.

     

    After Reading Activities

    Written Responses 

    Below are possible written response assignments designed to meet the needs of different level learners and varying instructional goals:

    1. Write a paragraph explaining how Frost uses word choice, setting, or imagery to develop the mood in the poem. 
    2. Write an essay comparing and contrasting how the settings in Owl Moon by Jane Yolen and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Frost contribute to the mood. 
    3. Analyze the mood in the poem’s original format. Then read the picture book. Compare the interpretation of the mood to Jeffers’s interpretation, which is depicted in her artwork. 
    4. Write a snowy day poem mimicking the literary techniques that Frost uses to establish mood in his poem. 

     

    Enrichment

    • Students create a snowy scenery background using watercolors. The colors in the scene reflect the mood in the poem they wrote when mimicking Frost’s techniques. Instruct them to use darker blues for a more solemn mood or lighter blues for a lighthearted mood. While the watercolor is wet, sprinkle it with salt. The salt will absorb the paint, leaving a snowy effect. After the paint dries, gently rub off the salt. Once the painting dries, students should write their poems on the paintings.

     

    • If you don’t have watercolor materials, students can take a digital picture of a snowy scenery and create meme poems, layering text over the image. Your techy kids will love it.
    • Research and plan a trip to tour Frost’s home and museum in New Hampshire. Include: locations, map, local highlights, lodging, and expenses.

     

    Robert Frost Resources

    The resources below are perfect for expanding this activity into an author study.

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