Learn about various poetic devices and match them to their definitions
- Be a Poem Detective! Activity Sheet printable
- A Pocket for Your Poem Activity Sheet printable
- Printouts of various poems from books in your school library, or online
1. Print out slips of paper with the following terms on it:
- Line break
2. For the scavenger hunt, print a copy of the following poems or choose your own, each on its own sheet of paper. The poems should include examples of the poetry devices listed above.
- “Bleezer’s Ice Cream” by Jack Prelutzky
- “Mr. Grumpledump’s Song” by Shel Silverstein
- “Knoxville, Tennessee” by Nikki Giovanni
- "Since Hanna Moved Away" by Judith Viorst
- "My Shadow" by Robert Louis Stevenson
- “Clouds” by Christina Rossetti
- “At the Zoo” by William Makepeace Thackeray
- “Eletelephony” by Laura Elizabeth Richards
- “In the Land of Words” by Eloise Greenfield
- "Song" by T.S. Eliot
3. Hang the poems around the classroom at students’ eye level. Space the poems apart so students don’t become crowded as they view the poems.
Note: This lesson is best used as a review of poetic devices, rather than an introduction to poetry devices.
Step 1: When you are ready to begin the lesson, hand out the slips of paper with the poetic devices written on them to students throughout the classroom. Ask the students to read the words out loud and write them on the board as they read them. Ask:
What do these terms have in common?
Allow students to describe the connection between the terms in their own words. Explain that these are all poetic devices, specific tools poets use to tap into readers’ imagination and emotions.
Step 2: Distribute the Be a Poem Detective! Activity Sheet. Explain that one way to interpret the meaning of a poem is to dissect it. Dissecting means to examine and analyze something in detail. Point out that the “sect” in the middle of the word is like a “section.” When you dissect a poem, you look carefully at each section and each detail.
Step 3: Direct students to review the Tool Box of Poetic Devices on the Be a Poem Detective! Activity Sheet. Explain to students that they will have a scavenger hunt to find examples of the devices.
Step 4: Point out the poems hanging on the walls around the classroom. Tell the students they should find at least one instance of each poetic device in the poems on the walls. Let them know that they are not limited to one example; they can note as many examples as they can find. Instruct them to copy the relevant lines (or if more than two lines, use an ellipsis) demonstrating the poetic device in its respective box on the Be a Poem Detective! Activity Sheet.
Step 5: Give students some quiet time to engage in this activity thoughtfully by themselves. Then direct them to return to their desks to complete the questions at the bottom of the Be a Poem Detective! Activity Sheet. Hold a class discussion about their answers. Ask:
How would each poem have changed if different poetic devices had been used?
Why might the poets have chosen the devices they used?
If students were writing their own version of one of those poems, would they have made different choices, why?
Using the Tool Box of Poetic Devices and example poems as a guide, challenge students to write their own poems. Suggest that they use at least two techniques from the Tool Box of Poetic Devices. Explain that they can choose new topics for their poems or use the topics of the example poems as inspiration. Encourage interested students to share their poems with the class. Consider displaying the poems around the classroom and having students read their classmates’ poetry by doing a “gallery walk.”
Celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 26, 2018. For homework or as a class activity, have students select poems that they enjoy. Give students the option of choosing the poem they wrote during the lesson extension above. On Poem in Your Pocket Day, have each student carry their selected poem with them during the school day. Challenge them to share their poems with as many people in the school community as possible. Get the principal and other teachers involved so the whole school can share their favorite poems throughout the day. For more information and ideas, see Poets.org.
Have students make their own poem pockets for Poem in Your Pocket Day.
Download the Make It! A Pocket for Your Poem Craft Instructions.