Lesson: Limerick

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Lesson Objective

Students will be able to identify and define limericks as a style of poetry. They will also be given time to create their own limericks.

Lesson Plan

Connection (3-5 mins): We have now started the part of the unit when we get to explore different types of poetry.  This is my favorite part of the unit because it allows us to be creative poets and learn many different ways to express ourselves.  Today we will learn about a new style of poetry called a limerick. 

Teach/Active Engagement (10-12 mins):  Limericks are normally funny poems that contain only five lines.  The lines each have a specific rhythm and rhyme pattern.  Let’s look at an example of a limerick below to determine the rhyme pattern.  Teacher reads aloud poem below.

There was an old man from Peru (A)
Who dreamed he was eating his shoe. (A)
He awoke in the night (B)
With a terrible fright (B)
And found out that it was quite true. (A).

Lets reread that poem together to see if we can label the poems rhyme scheme.  I know the first two lines rhyme (the words Peru and shoe) so I will label those two lines with the letter A.  However, I notice that “night” and “fright” rhyme but not with “shoe” so I must label both of those lines as the letter B.  The interesting part about limericks is that the final and fifth line of the poem rhymes with the first two lines.  This means I must label the fifth line with the letter A as well. 

Therefore the rhyme pattern for a limerick is always the last words of the first, second, and fifth lines all rhyme with each other and the third and fourth lines rhyme with each other. 

Limericks also have a specific rhythm, this is the beat or intonation of your voice as you read.  Many of you noticed that poetry has rhythm, and compared this to the songs you listen to on the radio.  Limericks are the same, except that each line must have a specific rhythm.  Let’s reread the poem about the man from Peru and try to label the poem’s rhythm. 

There was an old man from Peru,
da DUM da da DUM da da DUM (3 DUMS)

who dreamed he was eating his shoe.
da DUM da da DUM da da DUM (3 DUMS)

He awoke in the night
da DUM da da DUM (2 DUMS)

with a terrible fright,
da da DUM da da DUM (2 DUMS)

and found out that it was quite true.
da DUM da da DUM da da DUM (3 DUMS)

The rhythm pattern of a limerick 3 DUMS, 3 DUMS, 2 DUMS, 2 DUMS, 3 DUMS is always present. To be sure, recite the poem, substituting “da” for all unaccented or unstressed syllables.  Unstressed syllables means when you read it your voice doesn’t change or stress the syllable.   Then add  “DUM” for all accented or stressed syllables, as I have done above.

You all did a great job helping me to label this poem today.  When you return to your seat you will begin independent reading in your poetry folders.

Independent Reading (15-20 mins): Students return to their seats.  As you read pay attention to the rhythm and rhyme schemes in the poems.  If you notice an example of a limerick make sure you label the poem and raise your hand to show me your find.  Teacher should circulate to notice if students are able to identify limericks in their independent reading.

Exit Slip/Share (5-10 mins): Students will complete an exit slip at the end of the lesson.  The exit slip requires students to look at two poems.  One poem is an example of a limerick and one poem is not.  Students must distinguish between the two poems and correctly label the limerick.  The exit slip also requires students to create their own limericks.

Reflection: The most challenging part of this lessons is ensuring students understand the rhythm of poetry.  Stressed and unstressed syllables can be difficult to understand especially if this a students first experience with the idea.  However, I find relating this idea back to the way their voice sounds or the use of the "da dums" helps students grasp this concept. 

Lesson Resources

Limerick Exit Slip  
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