Poetry: Sensory Poems

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SWBAT recognize the term of the day in a short poetry passage and practice using it in a writing activity.

Big Idea

After discussing the five senses, students practice reading poems that appeal to the five senses, and use it in their writing.

Unit Introduction

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:

- Scholastic’s Storyworks magazines

- The Big Book of Classroom Poems [Hollenbeck, K (2004). The big book of classroom poems. Scholastic Press: New York, NY.].

Term of the Day

5 minutes

I ask students to remind me what they learned about onomatopoeia from yesterday. Then I explain that onomatopoeia is a great transition into sensory poems. I ask them to tell me what are the five senses and I write them on the board. We talk about how authors often like to include descriptive details that create vivid pictures in the minds of their readers. But they don’t just include words that make you think of sounds or describe objects in a way so that you can see them clearly. They also like to appeal to your senses of smell, taste, and touch. Authors do this by including specific phrases that leave you almost tasting that ice cold popsicle on a steamy day, smelling the lavender bush that grows outside your window, or the prickly points of a porcupine. The more detailed the description, the more it appeals to your senses. Today we’ll read three short examples of poems that appeal to one or more of your five senses.

Poem of the Day

10 minutes

I ask students to open their poetry packets to page ten. I repeat that our focus today is sensory poems and explain its definition. Students turn to their partners and do the same – stating the term of the day and telling its definition.

I point their attention to the poems of the day. I’ve chosen three short poems from the Big Book listed in the unit information. One is about summer, one about the sounds in a neighborhood, and the third about a barbeque. Before reading each one, we discuss the topic and try to imagine details that would appeal to our senses and might be included. For example, before reading the summer poem, I talked about how it is my least favorite season (the kids can’t get over this). But I explain that it’s because I like cold weather much more than hot weather. Hot weather makes me super uncomfortable, causes me to get headaches, and really aggravates my allergies. So when I think of summer, I think of myself sizzling with sweat rolling down the sides of my face all while sneezing, eyes watering, and throat itching. After a short discussion, we read each through once simply to become familiar with it. Then partners spend the next few moments reading the poems to each other starting with one and then moving on to the next. If time, they switch partners at their table and practice with someone new.


Practicing the Skill

10 minutes

When everyone had a chance to read the poems multiple times, I ask them to begin analyzing each for examples of phrases, or sometimes entire lines, that appeal to one of their senses. They underline each example and label it with the sense to which it appeals. When finished, they would record the details on page ten in their packets. If time, students add a line to each poem that includes a sensory phrase. 

Sharing our Work

5 minutes

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.