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A Teacher's Guide to Poems by Carl Sandburg

written by: Trent Lorcher • edited by: Wendy Finn • updated: 2/14/2012

These Carl Sandburg Poems are ideal for teaching poetry to high school and middle school students. This list of poems by Carl Sandburg is accompanied by lesson ideas and important links.

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    I felt great. I had just taught an amazing lesson on analyzing poetry. Finally, my students could write intelligent analysis in their poetry essays.

    My joy turned to horror as I read "this poem is cool" 8,114 times. I sniffled as students laughed at my grief. Seconds before peppering the class with spiral notebooks, I had an idea: maybe I should teach poems by Carl Sandburg. I put the notebooks away, called my bookie, and placed a bet on Chicago.

    I had work to do. I had to create a list of Carl Sandburg poems with teaching ideas. Here's what I came up with:

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    Poems by Carl Sandburg for High School

    1. "Fog" - Teach personification, or more accurately, felinification. Visual learners will find this poem as appealing as cat nip to a cat. Have a little fun with a fogcat art contest. Use white boards or individual slices of paper. Award prizes. Do cartwheels. Bring in a fog machine. Show the 1986 playoff game between Chicago and Philadelphia.
    2. "Chicago" - Sandburg loves personification. He also loves Chicago. Instruct students to imitate the first five lines of this poem to describe their own city or school. Use this identifying figurative language in poetry lesson plan to delve into Sandburg's artful comparisons.
    3. "Bones" - This Shakespearelike treatment of death even contains an allusion to Hamlet. Normal human beings consider it morbid. Teenagers will think it cool. Images of the bottom of the sea populate the last 5 lines. Instruct students to think of a strange place and use this imagery lesson plan to have them write about it.
    4. "Death Snips Proud Men" - Sandburg personifies death in this unusual look at every one's eventual fate.
    5. "Government" - It's safe to say that Sandburg is a proponent of limited government. Instruct students to write an imitation poem with their description of government. You may wish to review important political documents--The Declaration of Independence, Magna Carta, U.S. Bill of Rights, and other documents that call for limited government.
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    For a complete semester standards based curriculum guide, follow the link.

Teaching Famous Poets

These famous poems by famous poets are excellent for high school and middle school. Each list comes with lesson ideas and links to the actual poem.
  1. A Teacher's Guide to Poems by Langston Hughes
  2. A Teacher's Guide to Poems by Robert Frost
  3. A Teacher's Guide to Poems by Carl Sandburg
  4. Teaching Shel Silverstein Poems
  5. A Teacher's Guide to Poems by Emily Dickinson

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