Lesson: Free Verse and Couplets

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Lesson Objective

Students will be able to identify and distinguish between free verse poetry and poems with rhyming couplets.

Lesson Plan

Connection (3-5 mins):  Students should be seated on the carpet with a partner.  They will b expected to turn and talk to this partner throughout the lesson.  Yesterday you all did a great job labeling the rhyme scheme of a poem.  We noticed many different ways that a poem are organized to create unique rhyme schemes.  When I looked back on our poetry characteristics chart we created together on the first day of our new unit, I noticed we said poems rhyme sometimes.  Today, we will begin explore different types of poetry including free verse. 

Teach/Active Engagement (10-12 mins): Free verse is a form of poetry that doesn’t necessarily have a form or rhyme scheme.  A free verse poem can rhyme but it doesn’t have to.  This is very different than the poems we looked at yesterday.  Let’s review the poem we read yesterday. 


Oppossums at times take a notion to drop  A
Whatever they’re doing and come to a stop. A
It’s called “playing possum,” and clearly it’s why B
They’re mostly ignored by the folks passing by. B

Yesterday, we did a great job labeling the rhyme scheme in the poem, Opossums.  This type of rhyme scheme is called a couplet.  A couplet means two lines of poetry that rhyme.  In this example lines 1 and 2 are a rhyming couplet and lines 3 and 4 are another set of rhyming couplets.  Free verse is very different than the example above.  Let’s look at an example of free verse.

Teacher reveals a new poem on chart paper.  Teacher reads aloud poem.  Turn and tell your partner what you notice about this type of poetry.


I am a Butterfly.
I am one of the most beautiful insects of the world.
I eat nectar, but
I don't harm the flowers.
I have many enemies.
I wander through the forests playing with all my butterfly friends.
Their names are; Hippy, Dippy, Hopi, and Floppy.
I can't forget my best friends.
Poppy and Moppy.
But do you know who really are my best friends?
Could you try to guess?
I think you might have a good idea.
I like how you like to be you and not somebody who you aren't.

Teacher calls on students to share out what they notice about this type of poetry and charts students responses on chart paper.  You all noticed some great details about free verse.  In this example some lines are really long and others are short.  It doesn’t follow a pattern of rhyming but some lines do rhyme.  Free verse is all about expressing yourself creatively without necessarily following a specific format for a poem.

I am proud of your hard work today.  When you return to your seats today for workshop time, I want you to continue to read in your poetry folder.  As you read I want you to label any couplets you notice that rhyme with the letters RC and any free verse poems you find with the letters FV.  At the end of workshop time we will share out some of your findings.

Independent Reading (15-20 mins): Students return to their seats to read from their poetry folders.  These folders should include multiple examples of many types of poetry.  This will be used throughout the unit.  I create these prior to the unit beginning.  While students read they should label any types of poems they recognize using the abbreviations from above.

Exit Slip/Share (5-10 mins):  At the end of this lesson rather than collecting students poetry packets, I have students share their findings.  It is interesting to see which poems students chose to read and label.  I find that many students label the same poems which makes it easy to asses which students mastered the concept and which students still need additional instruction.

Reflection: This lesson serves the purpose of introducing students to a different style of poetry.  I often find that my students have a lot of  background knowledge about poetry but don’t necessarily have a clear idea of what free verse poetry looks like.  This exposure is a great way to free up their hesitation to write poetry and experiment with new forms of poetry. 

Lesson Resources

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