How to ________ a Poem

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SWBAT write a poem describing how to "read" poem by examining two mentor poems and then writing their own using a powerful verb.

Big Idea

Countless Ways to [insert your verb here] a Poem! Develop imagination and metaphors!


15 minutes


Teaching Point:  Poets write "A How to ______  a Poem" by deciding on a powerful verb and use it as a metaphor to carry their ideas to convey their message.

"Today students we will examine a poem.  Then we will write our own based on what we learn from the poem we study.  You will learn how to use a metaphor in your poem that will support your ideas and feelings about poetry reading or poetry writing.

I am going to read Eve Merriam's poem, "How to Eat a Poem" and your job is to listen to the words and notice what pictures you make in your head.  

Then you will think what is the poet "really" saying?  We know poetry has a lot of figurative language-like metaphors, similes, and we have to infer what the poet is really saying.  Because we can't REALLY eat a poem can we?"


"I will read it aloud to you and then you will "turn and talk" with your partner the images the poem created in your mind.  You can use this sentence stem to help you talk with your partners.

I'm picturing __________________and this is making me think the poem is really about_____________________.

I anticipate students will have a literal interpretation and they will say how they are picturing someone eating a piece of fruit.  So I will be ready to teach a new strategy to them by giving them a "tip". I will teach them to add on to their mental pictures to see the second half of the poem too, by close listening.

 "I heard you say..... I'm picturing a person eating a piece of fruit"

Here's a *Tip* about understanding the poet's message-  readers revise their first thoughts after hearing or reading the poem more than once.  

Listen closely to the poem again- especially the 2nd half of the poem and add to your mental picture the words are making in your mind.  


Also, in poetry you know that poets use metaphor.  So, I want you to be listening closely and think about revising your first images and ideas with the job of completing this sentence:

Now, I'm picturing ______________ and I think the poem means ________________.

Read the poem a second time to the students.  Tell the students to "turn and compare" what they are picturing and what the poem means to them.

Pass out a copy of the poem to each student.

 Take a minute to read and think about this poem.  What do you notice?"

I'm anticipating that students will say that the poet uses a metaphor of stating that reading a poem is eating a delicious piece of fruit.  Additionally, I'm anticipating students will pick up on the poet's meaning that poetry is wonderful and nothing goes to waste, and it is always available to you.

I will explicitly ask for evidence from the poem that their is no waste.

Let's now write a poem together using the poetry craft of metaphor.

First, we'll create a list of verbs that you might want to use to craft a "How to ______a Poem" to express your feelings about the topic.

Turn and talk with your partner about verbs to use in the Sentence stem  "How to ______a Poem.

I will add your ideas to the list of verbs.


Interactive Write

5 minutes

Prime students for the independent writing  section of the lesson through class created mentor poem.

Project the List of Verbs

"First, students read over the list of verbs and select one that sounds good to them, turn and share with partner,  call on a several students to share verbs their partners suggested.  As a class pick one.

My class selected the verb "drink".  "Let's  write a class poem titled "How to Drink a Poem" by using "How to Eat a Poem" as a guide."  

 Say, "Let's title it  'How to Drink a Poem'".

"Here's a *Tip*  to get started is to think of words and ideas that go with the concept of to drink."

Have kids suggest words and ideas. List on side of paper

Write the title at the top of a sheet of paper or on piece of chart paper.  Call on students to suggest a line of the poem and write it down.

Continue in this way, adding suggestions and revising as students think of new ideas and lines.

Class Poem How to Drink a Poem



Independent writing

20 minutes

"Students, now it is your turn.  Decide on a verb you want to use in your poem.  Tell your partner.

Once you both know what you are going to write about you may quietly return to your seats and get started."

Gradually release students to desks to maintain smooth transition and focused work environment.

Once students are back at their seats, stand back and observe how they are working.

Coach students to jump right in and see where their verb takes them in writing a metaphor poem.

How to Bake a Poem

How To Fly a Poem

How to Squeeze a Poem 

Share Out

10 minutes

As students are writing their poems, confer and coach.  Ask particular students to share their poems with the class during the share out.

Taming and Scaring Poems!!