Literary Techniques and Free Verse
Advanced learners enjoy the challenges of creative use of language; therefore including critical literacy lessons in language arts is a
Objective: Teaching metaphor, simile, alliteration, onomatopoeia, and other literary techniques can be enhanced by poetry written in free verse. This not only allows the student freedom from traditional rhyme and meter, it also challenges them to look outside the proverbial box.
Assignment: Begin this language arts project with the following items.
- A handout of literary techniques.
- Photographs or art work to use as prompts for writing.
- An alternate prompt might be a list of characters from literature to describe or situations in current events.
Once the prompt is chosen, have students pick one literary technique that they will then use to describe the prompt. (Literary techniques can also be placed on cards that the students pull from a hat.) Now, have students place their description, written using the literary technique chosen, on a white board or flip chart, building on the line previously written.
For instance, student 1 chooses alliteration. The prompt is Van Gogh's painting, Wheat Field with Crows.
Student 1 writes, "Wildly waving wheat, tempest tossed."
Student 2 might pick onomatopoeia, "Crows caw overhead."
Student 3 has a simile, writing, "Like sirens' calling the sailor in from the sea."
Put it together - Viola! - a poem:
Wheat Field With Crows
Wildly waving wheat
Crows caw overhead
Like sirens calling
The sailor in from the sea.
by L.M.R. Neas
This project can also be done individually with each student using a different literary technique for each line of a single poem.
Taking this project a step further, students can be given a list of questions to help them think outside the box. For example:
Looking at this picture, what colors do you see? Can you associate them with any of the senses? For example, "Tomato soup sunset tasting of lunch specially made on a cold winter day."
Can you add texture with the words you use? For example, "Walking over the corrugated sand where the rough tongues of salt waves nibbled at our tender feet."
Are there sounds that you hear when you look at the picture? Can you describe those using musical terms? For example, "A timpani rang out from the assorted masts bobbing like metronomes in the wind."