Reading Acrostics - Poetry of Letters

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SWBAT describe how words and phrases supply meaning in poetry; SWBAT create audio recordings to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.

Big Idea

Read the poem and show your feelings!


  • Summer-An Aphabet Acrostic by Steven Schnur
  • Lesson vocabulary words from the Reading/Writing word wall: poetry, literature, rhythm, voice
  • Set up the whiteboard 
  • iPad and voice recorder app (free)
  • acrostic poem maker website (free) from the International Reading Association
  • poetry tree (I have used this throughout my poetry unit to reference the kinds of poems and why we read poetry)
  • blank paper and crayons


** I chose this book because it has great examples of acrostics that allow the kids to read with emphasis and pausing, thereby improve their fluency. The app allows them to really focus on their voice and listen back to what they sound like when they read.

Let's Get Excited!

5 minutes

Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wall. I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics.  The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary.  My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words)


Common starting point

  • "We are going to talk about a new kind of poem today called an acrostic poem. It has letters down the left side that spell a topic. The horizontal words in the poem describe the topic."
  • "I'll write 'acrostic' on the tree because it's the another kind of poem that we've learned about." (Write that on the trunk of the tree)
  • "Acrostic poems help us to learn new things about a topic."  (Write that on the middle of the tree.)
  • "When we read acrostic poems, we can use the rhythm of the poem to read it fluently. Listen as I read this poem. What do you notice about my voice?" Read the poem, overemphasizing the rhythm a bit. This is how it sounded when I was reading my acrostic.
  • "Take a look at the example I wrote - what is it teaching me about recess?" 

This is one of the earlier lessons in my poetry unit. I used the 'poetry tree' in all of my lessons in this unit to create a tool that pulled together all of the ideas and kinds of poetry. The kinds of poem are listed down the trunk and the ways that poetry help us are listed on the leaves. I discussed repetition, rhyming and repeated words in my other lessons, including Poetry: What Is It?Dogs and Haikus: What's the Plot?Poetry Takes ShapeSynonym Adjective Verb-Put Them In A Cinquain and Pieces of Meaning in Free Verse PoetryDon't Worry: Alliteration and Onomatopoeia Help Us.

Teacher's Turn

15 minutes

Give the purpose of the lesson

  • "I brought a book about summer - it's full of acrostic poetry about that topic."
  •  "I'll start by reading a few poems and record my voice. Then I'll let you try a few yourselves with a recorder on the iPad."


Introduce strategy - teacher models

  • "Acrostic poems tell about a topic. The whole book is about summer. Listen while I read the poem into the voice recorder and then I'll show the picture."
  • "First I'll read the poem without recording it. I want to make sure I know all the words and understand what the poem is about."
  • "Now I'll read it again fluently and record it on the app. "Did you hear how I read the poem fluently, using rhythm, pausing and intonation? Based on this, I know the picture has birds, a baby and a window. The word was 'awning' which means a shade above the window. Take a look at the picture."
  • "Here's another acrostic-listen as I record it and play it back. Think about what the picture might be." (really pause and use lots of intonation - you're modeling for the kids)  "I paused and used emphasis on the words - did you hear it?"
  • "The text tells me there is a beach and umbrellas and ocean in the picture." Show the picture.
  • Let the kids make comments. What do they notice about the words - sometimes there is one word, sometimes its a phrase, the words describe the topic. Here is a student describing why he likes acrostics.


Take the time to demonstrate fluency with the students. First TALK OUT LOUD about how you practice reading the first time to understand the words and meaning. Then discuss rhythm and rate and how reading with sufficient accuracy and fluency supports comprehension (RF.2.4). Students need to see and hear you model using appropriate rate and expression as you read the poetry orally and how that buoys understanding.


Practice strategy - guided practice

  • "Help me with the next one-I'll use the voice recorder app and the play it back." Read the poem but don't show the picture. "Can you guess what's in the picture?"  Take ideas... "What was the word?"  Listen one more time as play the recording.
  • "Let's try one more." Read the poem with the voice recorder app. "What do you think the topic is?  What is in the picture?"  Take ideas - flowers, dragonfly, sunflowers. "What was the word - listen one more time as I play it back." 
  • This is how I played it back for the kids and made comments after playing the voice recording.


I'm demonstrating here how to create a recording of the poems. I'm using fluency, pausing, intonation and emphasis to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings in the poem. (SL.2.5)  Really emphasize your voice and comment to the kids about this - 'did you hear how I paused after the word 'hover'?  I emphasized the word 'sunlike' to show that was important.' By creating carefully structure situations for students to solve problems and practice independently, I'm demonstrating a shift in the Common Core State Standards. Students need an opportunity to practice their speaking and listening skills in constructed situations with feedback from the teacher.

Students Take a Turn

20 minutes

Assign Task

  • "Now it's your turn to choose a poem from the book and make a voice recording. Use the iPad to take a picture of the poem and practice it. Read the poem first to understand the words and meaning, then get ready to record it.
  • I think it’s important that students get time to understand the meaning of the words and the overall meaning of the poem before they attempt to add rhythm while reading the poem out loud.  
  • "I'll give you extra time to practice. Really think about your voice and rhythm when you read these poems. When you are ready to read it with good voice and rhythm, use the voice recorder app." 
  • "Let's take a minute - what our rules of safe iPad Rules?" (I always take a few minutes to go over these rules so there are not arguments or questions later.)


It's important to really stress this voice with kids - they tend to just want to record right away, but if you stress that you're giving them time to practice to understand the rhythm, then they'll work on using better voice. Using rhythm and voice is not an innate skill, it takes practice. Encouraging them to read a poem several times will give them time to hear the rhyme and rhythm and incorporate it into the recording.


Students Take Turns


Kids Share

  • Take a few volunteers so you can reinforce the ideas of rhythm, voice, and pausing.
  • "Who would like to share their recording?" 
  • Make comments as kids finish - "Wow, Joey paused after each vegetable name - that really made the poem sound clear to me - listen again while he plays that back."  or "Sue emphasized the word 'rooster' because that was the topic!"


As students read the poem, they consider how words and phrases (regular beats, wording, pauses, rhymes, and repeated lines) supply rhythm and meaning in a poem. (RL.2.4)  Give the students feedback as they play the recording and replay it so all can hear the examples again. Reading fluently improves the kids' comprehension, which is why one of the the Common Core State Standards is that students attend to the words and phrases that supply the meaning in poetry.

Write One Yourself

15 minutes

Explain the task

  • "Now that we've looked at some acrostic poems about summer, it's your turn to make your own acrostic poem.
  • Here's an example that I put on the board and this is how our discussion about that example.
  • "Choose a topic of your choice and think about details that describe the topic. Choose words that fit your topic, but remember you can use phrases, such as 'going to .... on the ..."
  • "Add a picture that fits your acrostic."


Kids share


Scaffolding and Special Education: This lesson could be easily scaffolded up or down, depending on student ability.

Students with learning challenges may struggle with reading these poems aloud because the vocabulary level is upper 2nd grade. You may need to help them write the poems or with spelling, so you provide choices for them to choose from.

Challenge higher level students to use more complex vocabulary. If they are doing a poem about cars - then go beyond the 'color' to words like 'chassy' or beyond 'auto' to 'automotive'.