The Purpose of Teaching Poems Using Onomatopoeia
Make sure that what you teach is valuable beyond the walls of the classroom. As you teach onomatopoeia poems for teenagers, focus
on the lasting benefits of becoming an onomatopoeia master. Use the following guidelines:
- You should teach what onomatopoeia is if you are teaching onomatopoeia! Simply teaching the definition, however, is not sufficient.
- Students should be able to identify onomatopoeia on their own.
- Students should be able to explain the purpose for the onomatopoeia example and analyze how it contributes to the theme of the poem. I have provided analysis of poems using onomatopoeia in this sound devices study guide.
- Students should be able to write poems using onomatopoeia.
- Students should be able to use onomatopoeia in their own writing to communicate more clearly.
List of Recommended Poems
- “The Bells” by Edgar Allan Poe - I have yet to meet a student who does not enjoy hearing this poem. After reading the poem aloud, you may want to break students into groups and have them analyze each section, focusing on tone, mood, and images. Discuss the different moods and images created by the type of bells being described.
- “Cynthia in the Snow” by Gwendolyn Brooks - Brooks crafts a poem that imitates the sound of playing in the snow. Because the poem is short and contains a powerful metaphor on race and identity, “Cynthia in the Snow” makes an excellent poem for speed poetry analysis. If you’re really brave, take the kids outside the next time it snows and see how accurate Brooks' description is.
- “Honky Tonk in Cleveland, Ohio” by Carl Sandburg - Bring in some honky tonk, the type of music played in cheap nightclubs popular in the south and southwest, and analyze or compare Sandburg’s onomatopoeic description. If you’re really brave and no longer want a job, take your students to an actual honky tonk bar in Cleveland.
- “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes - I memorized this poem in 5th grade. I don’t think I realized just how violent and sexual it was. I think high school students will. I think they’ll enjoy it. This poem would make a great movie. Instruct students to write a play or movie scene with this poem as an inspiration.
- “The Rusty Spigot” by Eve Merriam - You’ve probably figured out that this poem imitates the sound of a rusty spigot gushing forth water. It’s a fun poem. Make it even more fun by bringing a hose to the cafeteria and spraying down students that are making out. I also recommend this analyzing sound devices in poetry lesson plan.
- “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carrol - Lewis Carrol takes onomatopoeia to the next level. Instead of making sounds into words, he turns words into sounds. Have students imitate Carrol’s language experiment with a poem of their own. It’s about 8-trillion times harder than it looks.
This post is part of the series: Teaching Sound Devices and Form in Poetry
Use this list of poems and lesson ideas for teaching sound devices and form in poetry.