Lesson Overview
Students will read and become familiar with several different kinds of poems: acrostic, cinquain, alphabet alliteration, haiku, five senses, color poem, concrete poem, diamante, limerick, and two-word poem. After reading and discussing several examples, students will then write, edit, and illustrate their own poems. The final product will be a book of original poetry, which can be presented as a Mother’s Day gift or given to someone else. Ideally, this lesson would be taught collaboratively with an art teacher in order to provide the students guidance in illustrating their poetry. Students will utilize relationships with library media specialists, guidance counselors, and instructional aides to receive feedback on their work. Library media specialists will also work with students and the classroom teacher to explore various online examples of poetry and help students to develop their own preferences.

Lesson Objectives
  • Read and learn to recognize various types of poetry:
    • Acrostic
    • Cinquain
    • Alphabet alliteration
    • Haiku
    • Five senses
    • Color poem
    • Concrete poem
    • Diamante
    • Limerick
    • Two-work poem
  • Write original examples of each type of poetry
  • Create original illustrations for each original poem
  • Provide a peer review of a classmate’s work
  • Receive both peer and adult reviews of own work
  • Perform a self-reflection on the creation process
  • Create a final product, to be presented to someone else as a gift

Procedures and Materials
Day 1: introduction to poetry
Students should have studied a basic introduction to poetry in previous grades. As a class, brainstorm “what is poetry?” to activate their background knowledge. Then ask if anyone has a favorite “type” of poem. Some of this may have been covered in previous years, or students may know about limericks or haikus (for example) from their own reading. Then introduce the idea that this year, we will be studying 10 specific types of poems. Introduce the poetry project assignment. Then allow students to spend time exploring a variety of poetry books (provided by classroom teacher and school media specialist, making certain that these books contain at least some examples of the selected types of poems), reacquainting themselves with the genre. Classroom teacher and media specialist should circulate among students, asking them questions about what poems they like and why.
  • chalkboard or butcher paper for brainstorming
  • poetry project assignment packets
  • volumes of poetry to use as examples. These books should be selected based on what is available in the media center, but examples might include: Imaginary Animals by Charles Sullivan, The Complete Nonsense of Edward Lear collected by Holbrook Jackson, Haiku (Poetry Basics) by Valerie Bodden, Metaphors, Similes, and Other Word Pictures (Understanding Poetry) by Jennifer Fandel, and Climb Inside a Poem by Georgia Heard.

Day 2: acrostic
Introduce the concept of an acrostic: a descriptive poem that spells a word or phrase with the first letter of every line, then uses the rest of each line to describe that item or idea. Read four examples as a class, two from the poetry project packet and two others.. Then allow students to go to computers and explore the “acrostic” activity on the Read Think Write page from the International Reading Association and NCTE. This activity will guide students through writing their own acrostic poem using a word of their choice. Students may repeat this program as many times as they wish, until they feel comfortable with writing. Students needing additional examples or explanation can consult the “Let’s Make Literature Together” website and work with the classroom teacher or media specialist. The homework is for each student to write their own acrostic poem, either choosing one that they wrote through the Read Think Write website or on their own.
  • poetry project packet
  • “Spring” by Kaitlyn Guenther
  • “Acrostic Poetry” by Tonya Strickland
  • “Acrostic Poems” website from Read Think Write
  • “Acrostic Poems” website from Let’s Make Literature Together
  • computer access

Day 3: cinquain
Introduce the concept of the cinquain. “Cinq” means “five” in French. A cinquain is a special kind of five-line poem with a very strict form.
  • Line 1 – one word, the subject of the poem. This word is a noun.
  • Line 2 – two words describing the subject. These words are adjectives.
  • Line 3 – three words expressing action, telling what the noun in the first line does. These words are verbs, separated with commas.
  • Line 4 – four words expressing a feeling. This can be a short phrase or a series of words.
  • Line 5 – one word that is another word for the subject.
This concept can be introduced through one of the powerpoints found at http://languagearts.pppst.com/cinquain.html. As a class, then read through the “sample cinquains” available through Read Write Think, then allow students to work through the attached worksheet to write their own. This worksheet includes a self-reflection section at the end. Classroom teacher and media specialist should circulate among the students during this work time to offer help.
If students need additional help or explanation, another useful site was developed by Missouri State University and can be found at http://courses.missouristate.edu/ShaeJohnson/CinquainPoetryInstrucandEx.htm. Students can also consult the poetry project packet for further examples. As homework, students should write an original cinquain.
  • poetry project packet
  • cinquain powerpoint
  • “sample cinquains” and other handouts from Read Think Write
  • possible computer access

Day 4: alphabet alliteration
Begin by reading Alligators All Around by Maurice Sendak and The Worrywarts by Pamela Duncan Edwards. After reading, one, ask students to define alliteration—a repetition of words with the same beginning sound. Ask students to write an alliterative sentence, using any letter they choose, then share with the class. Pass out copies of other alliterative books (see alliteration booklist) and allow students to explore. As students feel comfortable, they should transition into writing their own alphabet alliteration poems as homework:
  • often takes the form of crazy nonsense
  • each line should be at least 3 words long
  • first word of each line should be an adjective
  • second word of each line should be a noun (the subject)
  • third word of each line should be a verb
  • lines can be longer and include more ideas if students wish
  • work your way through the alphabet!
  • examples can be found in the poetry project packet
  • poetry project packet
  • Alligators All Around by Maurice Sendak
  • The Worrywarts by Pamela Duncan Edwards
  • Clara Caterpillar by Pamela Duncan Edwards
  • Four Famished Foxes and Fosdyke by Pamela Duncan Edwards
  • Some Smug Slug by Pamela Duncan Edwards
  • Giggle Fit: Zany Tongue Twisters by Joseph Rosenbloom and Mike Artell
  • Little Giant Book of Tongue Twisters by Joseph Rosenbloom and Mike Artell
  • Rhyming Riddles and Tons of Tongue Twisters for Miles of Smiles by Edith Namm
  • Ridiculous Tongue Twisters by Chris Tait
  • Super School Side Splitters: A Tongue-Twister Tale by Quinlan B. Lee
  • Teasing Tongue Twisters by John Foster

Day 5: haiku
Introduce haiku. It is a form of ancient Japanese poetry. The poems are often written about things in nature or seasons. They are also written about emotions or feelings. Haiku poems are not written as complete sentences. They are more often written as short thoughts, and capitalization and punctuation are up to the writer. The first line has 5 syllables, the second line has 7 syllables, and the third (final) line has 5 syllables. Images should appeal to the five senses.
Together, read examples of famous haikus: “Temple Bells” by Matsuo Basho, “A Giant Firefly” by Issa, “You Rice-Field Maidens” by Raizan, “A Mountain Village” by Masaoka Shiki, “Night” by Masaoka Shiki, “The Flap of a Bat” by Phil Wahl, and the more modern “Freeway Overpass” by Michael R. Collings. Discuss how these poems fit the description of a haiku. Then discuss the three examples in the poetry project packet, which have been generated by past students.
Since the idea of the haiku’s strict form can be a little more intimidating to children than other forms of poetry, allow them to practice by using the “Haiku” program from the Poetry Idea Engine (http://teacher.scholastic.com/writewit/poetry/flash_pie.htm). Classroom teachers and media specialists can supervise and offer guidance as necessary. Students can use this program as many times as they wish. When they feel comfortable, they should start trying to write their own original haiku.
  • poetry project packet
  • haiku handout with poem examples
  • computer access
  • Poetry Idea Engine website

Day 6: five senses poem
Begin by reviewing the concept of similes (students should have learned this earlier in the year), meaning comparisons using “like” or “as.” Then introduce the idea of the five senses poem, which is an extended simile. The lines of the poem follow this pattern:
  • Line 1 – tell what color an emotion or idea looks like to you
  • Line 2 – tell what the emotion or idea tastes like (use your imagination)
  • Line 3 – tell what the emotion or idea sounds like
  • Line 4 – tell what the emotion or idea smells like
  • Line 5 – tell what the emotion or idea looks like
  • Line 6 – tell how the emotion or idea makes you feel
Begin by reading the examples in the poetry project packet, then the ones on the five senses poem handout, discussing how each conforms to the pattern yet remains a creative expression. Then ask the students what their favorite seasons are and divide them into groups based on their answers. (Try to keep the groups roughly the same size; for example, if significantly more students choose summer, there can be two groups for this season.) Then ask them all to try writing a five senses poem based on their favorite season. Write together as a class, one line at a time, responding to these prompts:
  • What color is your season?
  • What does your season taste like?
  • What does your season sound like?
  • What does your season smell like?
  • What does your season look like?
  • How does your season make you feel?
Then, within the grounds, have each student read their poem aloud and allow the other students to offer comments. Teachers should circulate during this time to answer any questions and make certain that appropriate and helpful comments are being made. When discussion has ended, have the students remain in the same groups and write on a second topic. Ask the students to pick any emotion they wish, either positive or negative. Then write on these questions:
  • What color is your emotion?
  • What does your emotion taste like?
  • What does your emotion smell like?
  • What does your emotion look like?
  • How does your emotion make you feel?
Again, have the students read aloud within their groups and offer suggestions to each other.
At the conclusion of this round, students may return to their original seats and work on a five senses poem on a subject of their choice. Teacher and media specialist should circulate, offering help as needed.

Day 7: color poem
The color poem is a natural follow-up to the five senses poem, as they contain many of the same ideas, including the use of similes and metaphors. Begin by reading Hailstones and Halibut Bones by Mary O’Neil. As a class, discuss the book. Then introduce the concept of a color poem, which follows this pattern:
  • line 1 – color is like the sound of ­­­_
  • line 2 – color is like the smell of ­­­­_
  • line 3 – color is like the taste of _
  • line 4 – color is like the feel of _
Read the examples printed in the poetry project packet and discuss how they follow the pattern yet remain creative. Then, on the chalkboard, designate columns for “sound,” “smell,” “taste,” and “feel.” Then, as a class, brainstorm what would go in each column for the color red. For example:
  • sound – pumping blood, growling stomach, arguing with my sister, cheering crowd
  • smell – roses, cinnamon, spaghetti sauce, fruit punch
  • taste – apples, red hots, strawberries, tomatoes
  • feel – love, anger, heat, fire
Then, using the list on the board or their own ideas, ask each student to write a color poem for red. Allow volunteers to share theirs aloud when everyone is finished writing. Next, distribute crayons among the students, using an equal number of green, blue, yellow, black, and brown to make five evenly sized groups. Have students divide into these groups, then repeat the large-group exercise in their small groups, creating a list of ideas for each characteristic and then writing poems about their crayon color. Students should then all share poems within the groups, offering comments and help to each other. Teachers should circulate to answer questions and steer discussion. At the conclusion of this exercise, students should return to their desks to work on a personal poem for the color of their choice.
  • poetry project packets
  • Hailstones and Halibut Bones by Mary O’Neil
  • chalkboard or large white paper
  • crayons

Day 8: concrete poem
This poem is a little different than the other forms, in that the shape of the poem is as important as the words. Concrete poems aren’t written in regular straight lines like other poems, but rather in the shape of the object the poem represents. Look at the poetry project packet for some starting examples. Then, show a powerpoint with further examples and discuss as a class. Next, create five groups of equal sizes. Give each group the outline of a shape—star, fish, tree, car, and clock. In each group, have the students brainstorm words, phrases, and ideas associated with their shape. When they finish brainstorming, ask each student to use those ideas (or more of their own) to create a concrete poem on their subject, using the shape handout as a base. Then let the students read each other’s poems within their group, offering suggestions and comments. When the students have finished discussing, have them count of by 5s, then form new groups, so each new group contains one member of each shape group. Have them compare poems in these groups, exploring the ideas associated with different shapes. When students are done discussing (supervised by teachers), they may return to their desks and begin working on freeform (not using outlines) concrete poems of their own on subjects of their own choosing.
  • poetry project packet
  • concrete poem powerpoint
  • shape handouts

Day 9: diamante poem
This is form of poetry that contains both a specific shape (like concrete poems) and specific line requirements (like color poems or five senses poems). The poem is written in the shape of a diamond. The form begins with a short line on top, and then the lines become progressively longer, until the mid-point of the poem, after which the lines begin to shrink again. Diamante poems deal with opposites, so you will need to begin by thinking of two things that are opposites. As a class, brainstorm opposites onto the board: life and death, love and hate, stop and go, old and young, fast and slow, etc. As a class, pick one set of opposites to work with. Make a list of adjectives, verbs, and nouns related with each term in the pair of opposites you have selected. Then describe the format of the poem:
  • line 1 – opposite #1
  • line 2 – 2 adjectives describing opposite #1
  • line 3 – 3 verbs related to opposite #1
  • line 4 – 2 nouns related to opposite #1; 2 nouns related to opposite #2
  • line 5 – 3 verbs related to opposite #2
  • line 6 – 2 adjectives describing opposite #2
  • line 7 – opposite #2
As a class, read the examples provided in the poetry project packet. Then, using the list of terms that the class has brainstormed for the opposites chosen, ask each student to write a diamante. Then ask for volunteers to read theirs aloud. Offer suggestions and comments as needed. Next, allow students to form their own groups of four. In these groups, students should repeat the process: pick a pair of opposites; brainstorm adjectives, verbs, and nouns associated with the opposites; each write their own poem; and share their poems with each other. If they are not yet comfortable, students may repeat this exercise in groups as many times as they wish, with teachers circulating to assist. When students are comfortable, they may return to their desks and work on writing an original diamante.
  • poetry project packet

Day 10: limericks
Limericks are one of the best-known types of poetry. They are funny or nonsensical. They often begin with “there was once was…” or “there was a…” A limerick has a distinctive rhyme pattern, with lines 1, 2, and 5 rhyming together and lines 3 and 4 rhyming together. Begin by looking at the examples in the poetry project packet, then hand out sheet with additional limericks by Edward Lear. Read together and discuss. Next, allow students to use the limerick setting on the Poetry Idea Engine (http://teacher.scholastic.com/writewit/poetry/flash_pie.htm) to create their own limericks. Once students feel comfortable, allow them to break into partners or groups of three and begin writing their own, using each other for suggestions and help. Also have various books of limericks available in the classroom for students to consult for further examples or inspiration.
  • poetry project packet
  • limericks by Edward Lear handout
  • Poetry Idea Engine “limerick” program
  • The Mammoth Book of Limericks by Glyn Rees
  • The Book of Nonsense by Edward Lear
  • Twimericks: The Book of Tongue-Twisting Limericks by Lou Brooks
  • The Hopeful Trout and Other Limericks by John Ciardi
  • A Thousand and One Limericks by Marcus Clapham and Rosemary Gray

Day 11: two-word poems
A two-word poem is a poem written with two words on each line. The subject of the poem could be anything, but for this assignment you will use the two word poem as a “character sketch” of someone you admire. It may be someone famous or a relative. It is your choice. You will need a photograph of your person for the poem’s artwork.
This poem should be much easier to write than some of the previous poems, as its requirements are not nearly so stringent. Begin by reading the examples in the poetry project packet. Then, as a class, pick someone that you all know: perhaps the media specialist, principal, or well-known person in your school or town. As a class, brainstorm ideas for two-word phrases and describe this person. List them on the board or a large piece of white paper. When finished, ask the students to each write their own poem about this person, using the phrases you have brainstormed or their own. Ask for volunteers to read their poems. Next, have students break up into pairs (choosing a friend is fine). Have them work together to write poems about each other. Volunteers may then share with the class. Once everyone is comfortable, they may begin writing a poem on a person of their choice.
  • poetry project packet

Days 12-15: pulling it all together
Now that students are familiar with all of the required types of poetry, it’s time to work on pulling together the project outlined in their poetry project packet. Many students will choose to use poems they have written in class on previous days; others might want to write more. Students should use class time to work on the illustrations for their poems, give and receive peer edits, and receive faculty edits. During this stage of the project, art teachers should be available to help students as necessary.
  • computer access
  • sponges
  • paper
  • pompoms
  • pipe cleaners
  • paper plates
  • paint (both acrylic and watercolor)
  • paintbrushes
  • cardboard
  • yarn
  • glue
  • construction paper
  • scissors
  • colored pencils
  • access to faculty: media specialists, guidance counselors, instructional aides, etc.

Required Elements
Exceeds Expectations
10 pts
Meets Expectations
8 pts
Below Expectations
6 pts
Poetry Book Cover

Table of Contents

Self Reflection & Critiques

Artwork & Visual Elements

Spelling & Punctuation Accuracy

Neatness of Work



Poetry Score Sheet (50%)
Scores for poems:
Excellent – followed directions, perfect punctuation and capitalization, great word usage (10 pts.)
Good – generally followed directions, few punctuation and capitalization mistakes, used good word usage. (8 pts.)
Poor – did not follow directions for most poems, or many punctuation and capitalization mistakes, poems did not make sense or flow well. ( 6 pts)


Alphabet Poem


Five Senses

Color Poem

Concrete Poem



Two Word Poem