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Fall into Poetry at the Start of School

written by: Kellie Hayden • edited by: Donna Cosmato • updated: 9/13/2014

Inspiring students to write back-to-school poems in the classroom can be a fun opening activity during the first days or weeks of the school year. For the language arts classroom, it can be a creative endeavor and allow students to share their figurative language knowledge.

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    Starting School Shape Poems

    When heading back to school, try this lesson that includes directions on how to write an acrostic, concrete, haiku, bio, and ABC poem. Student Teachers can decide how many types of poems they want their students to write on the themes of starting a new school year or summer vacation.

    Figurative Language

    Before asking students to write poetry about their favorite summer activities or starting school in the fall, students probably need to review figurative language. Depending on the age of the students, the list of figurative language that the teacher may want to review could be quite long.

    For this introductory lesson that is supposed to inspire poetry, teachers can pick three to five examples of figurative language they want their students to try to use. The following is a list of five poetry devices that are typically taught in earlier grades and would probably require just a short review:

    • Metaphor: a comparison of two unlike things (John is a fox).
    • Simile: a comparison of two unlike things using like or as (John is like a fox).
    • Alliteration: repetition of consonant sounds in lines of poetry (John jumps over a jellyfish).
    • Onomatopoeia: the word makes a sound (buzz, pop, oink).
    • Personification: an inanimate object takes on human like characteristics (the daffodil bobbed its head in agreement in the breeze).

    Example Acrostic

    A quick and easy shape poem idea is the acrostic poem. It spells a word vertically with the first letter of each line of poetry.

    100 1007 

    “Vacation Shells”

    Skittering minnows dance in the shallows,

    Hoping to find a sand dollar,

    Enjoying the crash of the waves that bring new treasures,

    Laughing as a hermit crab nips my fingers,

    Loving the collection of shells I found on the beach.

    “Vacation Shells” was inspired by a summer vacation on the beach. However, students can choose any summer memory and turn it into an acrostic poem. Please note that each letter has a phrase after it and not a single word. Some students will try to write the least amount possible.

    Teachers can also ask students to use two types of figurative language. In the "Vacation Shells" there is an example of personification (minnows dance in the shallows) and onomatopoeia (crash).

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    Poetry: Chains, Bios & ABC's

    The other types of poems that students can write are concrete poems, haikus in a poetry chain, bio poems and ABC poems. The focus can be their thoughts about heading to class in the fall, activities on the first week of a new grade or summer vacation activities. Teachers can ask students to use one or two devices or figurative language.

    Concrete Ideas Turned into Verse

    There are several types of shape poems. Excellent examples can be located in the book A Poke in the Eye by Paul B. Janeczko, which is great for elementary or middle school students or the book Blue Lipstick by John Grandits, which is great for middle school or high school girls. A concrete poem takes the shape of the object being described.

    Students can write a poem about something they enjoyed this summer and then make it into a simple shape, such as a ball, ice cream cone, shell, soccer ball, beach towel, etc.

    Chains of Haiku

    Another idea is to write a haiku in a poetry chain about coming back to school. Each student needs to write a haiku on a two inch strip of paper. The strip of paper should be decorated by the student and then the strips can be made into a large chain that can be hung in the room.

    A haiku is a three line poem that has a specific syllable count of 17 total syllables.

    • line one has five syllables
    • line two has seven syllables
    • line three has five syllables

    Bio to Describe Another

    The bio poem can be any length but the purpose is to describe a person. Students can write this poem about another student in the classroom. This will give students a chance to get to know each other better and write a poem.

    ABC's Organize Poetry

    The ABC poem has five lines. Each line will start with a different consecutive letter in the alphabet. The poem should create a mood, feeling or imagery about a summer activity or going back to school.

    This lesson gives a variety of types of poems that can be inspired by returning to school or summer activities. It is a nice way to "slide" into academic activities and to review figurative language.

References

  • Shape poems, from ReadWriteThink.org. (You have to enter your first name only to get past the first page.)
  • Figurative Language, from FrostFriends.org.