I created this unit for a group of students who needed extra practice with fluency and a beginner’s understanding of poetry. Each day provided a quick lesson on one characteristic or type of figurative language, multiple readings of a short poem, and practice using the term of the day. The unit was designed to take no more than thirty minutes per lesson and lasted three weeks in my classroom.
Due to copyright issues, I could not include the actual poems used each day. However, because the terms being used are universal, fitting poems shouldn’t be too difficult to find! All of the poems I used came from one of two sources:
- The Big Book of Classroom Poems [Hollenbeck, K (2004). The big book of classroom poems. Scholastic Press: New York, NY.].
I ask students if they know of any tongue twisters. A few hands raise and I ask for their examples. We practice saying one faster and faster until we’re all laughing. I explain that the difficulty in saying a tongue twister is that many of the words begin with the same sound. In a poem, this is called alliteration. Today we’ll read a poem with great examples of alliteration and then you’ll try your hand in using alliteration in a poem of your own!
I ask students to open their poetry packets to page six. I repeat that our focus today is alliteration and explain its definition. Students turn to their partners and do the same – stating the term of the day and telling its definition. I read page six aloud until I come to an example of alliteration, which we read together.
I point their attention to the poem of the day. Today I’ve chosen “maggie, milly, molly, and may” for its excellent use of alliteration. We read it through once simply to become familiar with it. We note the number of stanzas, lines, and any repetition or rhyming we find. Then I ask students to find the examples of alliteration, label them, and record them on their packet.
Partners spend the next few moments reading the poem to each other, coaching one another through difficult words or phrases. If time, they switch partners at their table and practice with someone new.
When everyone had a chance to read the poem multiple times, I ask the group to turn to page seven. I explained that they would now try to write their own lines of alliteration. I gave them the topic of “pizza” and modeled the task by writing the first two lines. I explained that this might be easiest if we focused on a different topping for each line. For instance – the sauce. When I think of pizza sauce, the words “slippery, sweet, salty, and slick” come to mind. We worked together to turn those words into a complete line for our poem. Once completed, students were given the task of finishing the poem by adding at least three additional lines each containing an example of alliteration.
Students share their work with someone in the room they have not worked with yet. They take turns telling their partners the term of the day, their understanding of its definition, and the work they completed during the practice activity.