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.].
As students settle into their desks and begin pulling out their supplies, I do my best Bruce Lee impression and yell, “Whack! Bam! Crack!” They all stare at me like I’ve really lost it now! I throw out a few more: “Buzzzzzz, Bong, Bang!” They move from fear to laughter. At least I have their attention! I ask them to tell me why I might throw those words out there or what those words might have in common. One student tells me that they sound like sounds. Yes! That’s it! Those six words are examples of a kind of figurative language called, “onomatopoeia.” Onomatopoeia are sounds words; they sound like the noise they make. And for that they’re one of my favorite types of figurative language! Today we’ll read two short poems that are full of examples of onomatopoeia.
I ask students to open their poetry packets to page eight. I repeat that our focus today is onomatopoeia 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 eight aloud until I come to the example, which we read together.
I point their attention to the poems of the day. Today I’ve chosen “Bubble” and “Thunder” for their repeated use of onomatopoeia. Before reading “Bubble,” I ask them to imagine chewing a big wad of bubble gum. We pretend as if we are chewing and I tell them to blow the biggest bubble they can and then smash it with their hands. What sound comes to mind? That’s what our first poem is about. I explain that this poem is what’s called a shape poem because it is formed in the shape of its topic. Rather than being written in stanzas and lines, the verses are written in the shape of a bubble. We read it through once simply to become familiar with it. Then I ask students to find the examples of onomatopoeia, label them, and record them on their packet.
We do the same with the second short poem. We first talk about what it sounds like during a thunderstorm. We describe the noises and see if we can come up with our own examples of sound words before reading the poem through once together and then in partners.
Partners spend the next few moments reading the poems to each other starting with one and then moving on to the second. If time, they switch partners at their table and practice with someone new.
When everyone had a chance to read the poems multiple times, I ask the group to turn to page nine. I explained that they would come up with their own sound words that fit each poem. If they had enough time, I encouraged them to try writing a line or two of their own that each contained at least one example of onomatopoeia.
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.