Synonym, Adjective, Verb: Put Them In A Cinquain

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SWBAT read and write words with common suffixes and prefixes, as well as adjectives and adverbs in poetry.

Big Idea

Use the parts of speech to read and write fun cinquains.


  • 'Cinquains" powerpoint
  • 2 websites (they are embedded on the powerpoint, but I would suggest opening them separately so it works easily during the lesson): ednet website and squidoo website with simple cinquain poems for kids  (these had kid-friendly cinquains)
  • Lesson vocabulary words from the Reading/Writing word wall: syllables, synonym, adjective, verb, repeating words, rhythm, rhyme
  • Set up the whiteboard
  • Poetry Tree (I have used this throughout my poetry unit)
  • 'Cinquain' worksheet
  • lined paper - horizontal
  • 9x11 construction paper-one for each student
  • kids need a ruler, scissors and markers/crayons


I chose to use websites for this activity because the technology is so motivating for the students and they use more and more digital tools to learn. This was a great opportunity to help students discern how to get information from websites. These had ads and other non-pertinent information and I took the opportunity to help students see 'what's important' and what is unrelated information.

Take the time to talk with your students about what they see with these digital tools, where the information is, and how to know what an advertisement is. Here's a question that my student asked and I explained about the advertisements on websites.

Introduce the Poem

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

  • "This is a new kind of poetry called a 'Cinquain'". (write it on the trunk of the tree) 
  • We read these poems because they 'make us think'."   (write that on the leaves of the tree)  Here's what the completed tree looked like.
  • "This is an example of a cinquain - tell me what you see."  Show powerpoint slide 1-3  (take ideas-it looks like a diamond, it has words with 'ing', the top and bottom words are synonyms) Here how I got some ideas about cinquains from the students.


Take time to see what the kids notice about the poems. This is the fourth lesson in my poetry unit, so my kids are starting to recognize the traits of poetry (syllabication, rhyme, repeating words, and rhythm).  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. See what students can discern from the 2 poems before you go on and 'tell them' what a cinquain is.

The other lessons in my poetry unit are Poetry: What Is It?Dogs and Haikus: What's the Plot?Poetry Takes Shape, Reading Acrostics: The Poetry of LettersPieces of Meaning in Free Verse Poetry and Don't Worry: Alliteration and Onomatopoeia Help Us.

Teacher's Turn

15 minutes

Explain the topic

  • "Here's a description of a cinquain."  Use slides 3-5 as examples to discuss cinquains.
    • "Cinquains are five lines long"
    • "They have 2 syllables in the first line, 4 in the second, 6 in the third, 8 in the fourth line, and just 2 in the last line"
    • "'Center” your poem on the page-it looked like a wide diamond"
    • "The best cinquains tell a story"
  • This is how I questioned the kids and how we did a final review of the topic.
  • Reinforce that cinquains show the parts of speech (slide 6)


Introduce strategy - teacher models - slide 7 (6C Cinquains-Pattern #2 Examples)

  • "These are poems from a group called class 6C." Pull up the first website. " (Look at the 2nd examples)  "Let's read them and see if they follow the pattern."
  • "'Messy and spicy' are great adjectives for spaghetti. The verbs really describe how to eat it. 'Between my plate' does not really describe a great emotion but the 'not wanting to listen' really describes the donkey. I would say the 'spaghetti' and 'delicious' could be synonyms. It's interesting that the author said that 'mules'  and 'people' were synonyms because they could both be stubborn. That word choice really adds LOTS of meaning to the poem!"
  • "What about repeating words? the -ing repeats, but that's it.  I'll read it again to listen for rhythm. You can definitely hear the rhythm.  Do you hear the syllables in each line? Let's check - 2 syllables, then 4, then 6, then 8 , then 2.  There's no rhyme in these cinquains, but the rhythm and small repetition help me to understand it better."
  • "Do you see the diamond shape? I could draw a diamond around the cinquain because they start short then get longer until the last line, and then get short again."


Practice strategy - guided practice-slide 7 (Kenneth's cinquain poems)

  • "Let's take a look at a cinquain poem written by a boy named Kenneth. Here's a cool website he created. He said that he first learned about cinquains when he was in 2nd grade!"
  • "Do you see the 'adjectives', 'verbs',  'emotions' and the 'synonym'? How do these help you to understand the poem?"  (Take the time to look at a few poems-what are the adjectives? Do the verbs describe it clearly? Did Kenneth use emotions. What about the synonyms?)
  • "Are there repeating words? Rhyme? Rhythm? How do these add meaning?" (slide 8)
  • "Do you see the shape of the poem? What do you think about these cinquains?" (Take ideas-they are fun to say, I like the shape, the synonym is like the title...)
  • "What about these poems bring meaning to you?"  (shape, synonym, repeating words....) and how do they bring it?" (the shape shows the topic, the repeating words make it fun...)


Take the time to discuss how these words and phrases are bringing meaning to the poem. (RL.2.4) The ability to describe how these help students better understand what they read is really the crux of this standard. The Common Core State Standards encourages students to actively participate in their reading and the teacher to guide them to understanding. By highlighting poems and talking through the parts of speech and use of poetry techniques, students can begin to look beyond the words and illustrations to understand the author's intent.

Write One Yourself

20 minutes

Assign Task

  • "Now it's your turn to write your own cinquains. You can pick a topic of your choice."
  • We did discuss possible topic ideas for the cinquains and I put them on the whiteboard.
  • Pass out the worksheet.
  • "Take a few minutes and remember to follow the directions on the page. Think about your syllables."


 Let students write

  • Give kids time to write and help as necessary.
  • They may need help with syllables, spelling or word choice. These are some verbs that I put on the board. This is what it looked like when I helped a student with a line.
  • This is what one of my student's worksheets looked like.
  • I also had the kids read their rough draft to me or a friend as a final check. Here's a student reading his rough draft to me.

Create A Project

15 minutes

Create a final draft


Encourage kids to share

  • "Does anyone want to share their cinquain?"
  • "Ask 'why did you pick that synonym? Did you think those adjectives were good to describe that topic?'"
  • "Class - did it help you to understand the poem when you heard the synonyms, verbs and adjectives?"


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

Students with learning challenges may need to work with a partner or with the teacher. You could select several topics and give them choices. They may need spelling help. They will enjoy creating a picture and should be able to do the final draft, but writing the poem might be harder.

Encourage those with greater abilities to use higher level vocabulary. They should be able to come up with more descriptive words and could perhaps use a thesaurus to find a more accurate synonym.