Long Vowels & Limericks-Looking at Poetry

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SWBAT distinguish long vowels in regular spelled one-syllable words and common vowel teams.

Big Idea

Look at Limericks for Long Vowels!



I chose this book because it has great limericks that are age appropriate for second grade. Most of the classic limericks have very difficult language and the topics are dated, but this book was fun for the kids and really helped them to understand the idea of limericks. They also loved the book's topic of 'school'.

For this unit and specifically in this lesson, I really want to emphasize the importance of the text of the poetry. The puzzle piece worksheet in this lesson helps students zero in on text evidence. Instead of teaching poetry in a free form way, (although it is beautiful and fun), I want students to keep site of the actual text of the poem as well as the rhythm and rhyme of the genre.

The students have learned to love poetry this unit because of the great rhythm and rhyme. In this lesson and others, they are describing how the words and phrases (regular beats, rhymes and repeated lines) supply rhythm to the poem. (RL.2.4) They are interpreting the phrases and words as they are used in the text, including the figurative meanings and learning how to analyze how the author chooses specific words to shape meaning and tone.

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

  • "Today we are going to read a kind of poetry called a 'limerick'." (Write that on the trunk of the poetry tree)
  • "These poems have rhythm like a song, but they are usually silly." (Write that on the leaves of the tree)
  • "We can count the syllables in these limericks, like we did with a cinquain and haiku to make it sound right."
  • "Today in these limericks we'll also review the idea of long and short vowels... (I paused)... who remembers those?"  (I got some hands up- it was great to take the chance to review in this lesson)
  • Take a look at the discussion I had with my students to introduce the lesson.
  • Here's a picture of our completed poetry tree.


This is the last lesson 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, syllables, 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 Reading Acrostics: Poetry of LettersPieces of Meaning in Free Verse Poetry and Don't Worry: Alliteration and Onomatopoeia Help Us.  I used a 'Poetry Tree' for the whole unit and added ideas as we read different kinds of poems.

If you have not discussed these poetry features with your students, spend a few moments talking about these important parts of poems as you discuss limericks so they have the background knowledge needed.

Teacher's Turn

15 minutes

Give the purpose of the lesson

  • “We have talked throughout the year about long and short vowels. Today we are going to look at our limericks to identify the long vowels."  (Powerpoint slide 1)
  • "Limericks, like other kinds of poetry, have rhyming words. Many of the words that rhyme in these poems have long vowels. We'll look at how these vowel teams are spelled."
  • “What are the long vowels?”  Write these on the board as you say them – leave space so you can add words underneath. “/a/  /e/  /i/  /o/  /u/”
  • “Today we'll identify the spelling in these limericks and then at the end of the lesson, we'll write a limerick as a class!"
  • Here's how I set the purpose.



  • “Here are two sample limericks. What do you notice?” Prompt for rhyming, rhythm, number of lines (slide 2)
  • (slide 3) “Limericks are silly and funny. The 1st. 2nd and 5th lines rhyme and have the same number of syllables. The 3rd and 4th lines rhyme.”  This is our discussion about the poetry features in the limerick.
  • “Let’s go back to the first limerick. It rhymes because there are long vowels. What are they?” (slide 4)  Kids identify the vowels – slide 5  “Notice that that although the long vowels are the same, they are spelled differently.”  (long /a/ is ‘ain’ and ‘ane’ and long /i/ is ‘ie and ‘ugh’).  Write those on the whiteboard.  "Wow, there are different ways to spell 'long a'!"
  • Spend some time discussing this spelling - this is the crux of the lesson.  Here was our discussion.
  • “Let’s take a look at the second limerick. Does it follow the rules? (slide 6)  Yes, syllables and rhymes are correct."
  • “What are the long vowels that rhyme? How is the spelling different?"   Write those on the whiteboard.


Guided practice

  • “I brought a fun book today full of limericks. We’re going to look at those with long vowels and identify how they are spelled.”
  • “I have a big poster with all of the long vowels listed. We’re going to write the words with these vowels and look at the spelling.”
  • “Let me read the first page. Tell me what the long vowels and how they are spelled.”  Read page 1 – take ideas. Write ‘day’ and ‘play’ on the paper and put it under the /a/ on the board. Write ‘school’, ‘rule’ and ‘cool’ under the /u/ on the board.  "So what are the ways to spell long /u/?"
  • “Let’s check page 2 – read it. It doesn’t have long vowels so we’ll skip it."
  • “Let’s try one more.” Read page 3. “What long vowels do you hear?”  (write ‘knight’ and ‘fight’ on the board).  What about the long /e/ vowels?"  Our discussion about long vowels that are spelled the same sounded like this.
  • This is what the whiteboard looked like when we were done.

Students Take a Turn

20 minutes

Explain the task

  • “I’m going to read the next pages of the limerick poem and put them on the Elmo (if you're using one)."
  • "Look for the words with long vowels and write them on your paper.”  Pass out the worksheet - do the front only.


Find the vowels

  • "Read the pages aloud and ask the kids to list the words.  Here are the long vowels for the book." Help as necessary, especially on the first few pages. Spelling is important, so give the kids time to copy.
    • P. 6 brain, insane, plane
    • P. 7 team, scream, dream….. twice, sacrifice
    • P. 8-9 shy, hi, guy
    • P. 11 face, case
    • P. 12 great, mutate
    • P. 14 mind, grind, behind
    • P. 15 cheese, sneeze
    • P. 17 lace, place, base
    • P. 20 Mable, table
  • I was pleased that one of my kids noticed the placement of the rhyming words on the lines. Here's his comments about the words being on the end of the line.
  • Here's what the completed whiteboard looked like.
  • This is an example of one of my students' student worksheet (front only).


Discuss the long vowels

  • "Let's look back at how the vowels are spelled. Who can tell me the ways to spell long /a/?"
  • "Who can share about spelling long /e/? The /ea/ is called a 'vowel team."
  • Use the time to discuss the long vowel spelling. 
  • One student noticed that she could use the spelling rules to help her read a word - WONDERFUL and a teachable moment. If you know that it rhymes and it's a long vowel, then use what you know to read the word correctly! I added a comment - rhyming poems and text is easier to read if we know that the reading words are based on rhyme.


This is the crux of the lesson - discussion of how long vowels and vowel teams can be spelled differently. The Common Core State Standards encourage students to know and apply grade level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words, including distinguishing long vowels when reading regularly spelled one and two syllable words with long vowels (RF.2.3a, RF.2.3c). This lesson is a classic example of how you can teach grammar inside a literature lesson. Instead of reviewing long and short vowels in isolation (a long vowel worksheet), it was great use this poetry book to find them as we were learning about literature.

Write A Class Limerick

15 minutes

Set up the class limerick

  • "In our book today, there were only a few long /o/ spelling words. Let's brainstorm some words that have the long /o/. "
  • Take some time to think of words:
    • glow, so, toe, doe, foe, throw, low, know, row, bow, beau, go, tow, hoe, mow, sew, grow, flow, Joe, Flo, dough, though, show
  • "Why don't we add some long /u/ words since there were not many in the poem?"
    • blue, Sue, too, to, boo, do, goo, who, Jew, knew, moo, stew, kangaroo, zoo
  • Our brainstorming sounded like this.
  • Here's the whiteboard with added words for the class limerick.
  • "Now let's make up a limerick that has these words."


Create a limerick

  • We had great fun writing the limerick. It was really interactive!  We used the words we had brainstormed and talked about all of the poetry features - rhyming, rhythm, and syllables in a limerick.  Here's a peek at us creating the limerick.
  • This was the class limerick that our class wrote together. My students copied on the back of the page. I read the class limerick with the kids - It was great fun!!
  • Here's an example of the second page of the student worksheet.


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

Students who struggle may need to be paired with a partner for long vowel identification. You could also write the words on the board, as I did in the completed whiteboard example.