Some times authors or poets describe objects or animals with human like characteristics to help the readers relate to the message or get a particular emotional response to the poem or text. When authors or poets do that, it is called personification. Basically, they are trying to make the non human thing seem more like a person. For example, instead of saying the grass is moving in the wind we might say the grass is waving goodbye or instead of the trees are rustling we might say the trees are whispering. We can also use personification to create a feeling. For example, the trees are speaking softly vs. the trees are hissing to describe the sound of leaves rustling.
I introduce this lesson by using a few examples.
Here are few examples:
"The small waves were the same, chucking the rowboat under the chin as we fished at anchor." (E.B. White, "Once More to the Lake," 1941)
Snowflake by Elaine George
A fragile winter butterfly
Flutters from the sky
So soft and yet her heart
Is cold and made of ice
But if I warm it
She will melt and die
Students can easily create their own by thinking of an object and creating a separate list of things that humans do. Then try to create interesting or funny ways to combine them.
I model how to do this with my computer mouse. I describe some ways that a computer mouse could be like a human and then create a phrase. The computer mouse dances on the mouse pad. The computer mouse skis across the mouse pad. Etc.
Student get a chance to practice the skill of creating personification together by using a common object. They first think about the object and what it does and then think of a similar human quality. Lastly, they create a phrase that uses personificaiotn to describe the object. When students are finished, they share it with the class. Some students have similar ideas and some students have very different ideas. I want to make sure that students understand that although personification describes the object as it if it were a human, we still want to make sure that it makes sense.
Students will now get a chance to create their own poems by thinking of an object, writing words that describe humans, and then creating phrases that use personification to describe the object.
To close the lesson, once students have created their poem, they get a chance to share it out loud. They first share their poem with a peer or with their table group. Then I ask students to choose their favorite line and share it with the class.