Narrative Poetry Day One: What is a Narrative Poem?

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SWBAT listen to narrative poems, discover and learn what makes the structure of narrative poems unique.

Big Idea

Learn about the narrative poem genre to prepare to create their own

Welcome to My Lesson

Welcome to a set of five lessons I've written about narrative poetry.  These lessons take students through understanding the structure of a narrative poem, as well as planning, composing, publishing, and recording their own narrative poem.  You could easily extend this week of lessons to cover more days, as I felt a bit rushed to finish in one week with my class (we actually had four days :).  

These lessons are part of a larger, six week unit my district is implementing all about mythology, dragons, gods, giants, ancient Greece, and the Olympics.  However, the poems don't need to be themed according to this particular unit.  I gave my students the choice.  If they wanted to write a narrative poem about a Greek god, great!  However, if they wanted to write their poem about their cat, that was great, too!  You'll notice that I have a themed set of papers with mythological clip art, as well as a set with owl clip art.  Please use whatever works best for your students.

Please watch the short video for a brief introduction to this set of lessons.  Thank you for visiting, and I hope you and your poets enjoy your week of narrative poetry. Happy writing!

Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.

By Carl Sandburg

 *Clip art in lesson header from My Cute Graphics.  Thank you!

Enroll/Introduce Narrative Poetry

15 minutes

Enroll:  We begin our lesson today on the back carpet in our classroom, under our literacy tree.  I'm hooking, or enrolling my students into narrative poetry by reading different kinds of narrative poems.  Today, I read "Jimmy Jet and His TV Set" by Shel Silverstein, and "Jimmy Goes to the City" by Arthur Read.   After each poem ask the students what they notice such as rhyme, rhythm, repetition, humorous content, and interesting words.  When teaching something new, I like the students to make discoveries on their own, rather than me just telling them all of the content that they need to know.  I add student ideas to our anchor chart after each poem.  (See Resource Files:  "Jimmy Jet and His TV Set"; "Jimmy Goes to the City"; Narrative Poetry Anchor Chart Before and After) 

Lesson: What is a Narrative Poem?

20 minutes

Defining a Narrative Poem:  I ask students to head back to their desks for our lesson on parts of a narrative poem.  I display my Narrative Poem poster on our SMART Board, and I explain that the only rule of a narrative poem is that it tells a story in verse - real or imagined.  (See Resource File:  Narrative Poetry Poster)

We read through my poem "Crocodile on the Loose!" on the poster and discuss why it's considered a narrative poem, as well as other things we notice about the text structure.  I call on students to circle (pairs of rhyming words) and write on the poster as we discuss on the SMART Board.

Writing a Narrative Poem:  I let the students know that writing poems is fun and easy!  It's like painting a picture with words!  I model for the students how I began my poem by showing the Teacher Sample Narrative Poem Brainstorm Page.  I explain how I started by thinking about the characters I wanted to be in my poem, then the setting, problem, solution, plot, and any interesting words I thought I might want to use.  I explain that this was just a brainstorming page, and everything I brainstormed may not have ended up in my poem.  My students are quick to point out some things they see that are on the brainstorm page, but not in my poem.  They're so observant!  I tell my jr. poets to start thinking of ideas for their own poems, as they'll be completing a brainstorming idea page of their own tomorrow.  (See Resource Files:  Teacher Samples Front and Back)


*Border on planning page from ScrappinDoodles; owl clipart from Giftseasonstore

Review and Celebrate

5 minutes

Review:  We review our learning today by revisiting the anchor chart created at the beginning of our lesson.  I ask the students to show me what they know, by completing an exit ticket on a Post-it note with their initials, finishing the statements:

Narrative poems always....

Narrative poems can also...

This quick informal check will show me if a student is grasping the concept that a narrative poem tells a story.  The students who don't seem to be getting this will be the first ones I visit tomorrow when they begin their brainstorming pages.

Celebrate:  I praise my jr. poets for all of their help with identifying the structure of a narrative poem, and for being so observant and finding lots of special features in the poems we read aloud today.  We celebrate our narrative poetry kick-off by giving high tens all around! 

Lesson Extras

Here are some other items you may find helpful if you are completing activities related to narrative poetry.  

Home Activity:  Here is an activity you can send home with your students to reinforce learning about narrative poetry at home.  (See Resource File:  Home Poetry Assignment)

Word Choice:  My students also completed a narrative fantasy story during this unit.  These are posters and handouts I created to help with word choice.  You may find them helpful to use with your students while writing poetry, too!  (See Resource Files:  Figurative Language Posters and Word Lists)

Website Links:  Here are some website links for your little poets to learn and play with poetry: 

PBS Kids Fern's Poetry Nook

Giggle Poetry

Kenn Nesbitt's Poetry Fun & Games

Shel Silverstein's Fun & Games

RIF Poetry Splatter

Scholastic Poetry Idea Machine

Jack Prelutsky's Website