Lesson 1: What Is Poetry?

Getting Started

Materials: Handy Guide to Writing by Moving Beyond the Page
Have you ever read a book of poems? Have you ever memorized a poem? What do you know about poetry? The unit you are about to begin will introduce you to some amazing poems and amazing poets. You may discover that you have a poet inside of you!

Special Note: Save all of the poems you write in this unit, as you will need them all for the final project.

Stuff You Need

  • Handy Guide to Writing by Moving Beyond the Page
  • R is for Rhyme: A Poetry Alphabet by Judy Young
  • colored pencils* (Activity 4 - optional)
  • journal
  • thesaurus

* - denotes an optional material that may or may not be needed

Ideas to Think About

  • What relationships and patterns can be found within the words of a poem?
  • Why is it important to understand these relationships and patterns?
  • How do figurative language and word patterns affect a poem and the reader/listener?

Things to Know

  • Syllable -- a part of a word that contains a vowel sound
  • Line -- words grouped together in a horizontal row of a poem
  • Stanza -- lines of poetry grouped together
  • Couplet -- a two-line stanza
  • Quatrain -- a stanza that contains four lines
  • Meter -- the pattern of rhythm or beats in a line of poetry
  • Rhyming pattern -- the way that the end of different lines rhyme in a poem
  • Weak rhyme -- words that almost rhyme
  • Onomatopoeia -- a word that sounds like the noise the word makes
  • Alliteration -- the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words
  • Metaphor -- a figure of speech that compares two unlike things
  • Simile -- a metaphor that uses the word "like" or "as" in the comparison
  • Visual imagery -- words that show you a picture in your mind
  • Synonyms -- words that have the same or similar meaning


  • Increase reading and writing vocabulary through the knowledge of synonyms. (LA)
  • Read independently daily to increase vocabulary. (LA)
  • Read a variety of texts, including poetry. (LA)
  • Identify and interpret elements of fiction. (LA)
  • Paraphrase to indicate active listening. (LA)
  • Think about the tone of voice and the speed at which the poem should be read. (LA)

Introducing the Lesson

Explain to your child that today he will be introduced to a special form of writing called poetry. Explain that poetry is a very different form of writing than stories or paragraphs. Ask your child what he knows about poetry and if he has ever read or written any poems.

NOTE: As your child works through this year of language-arts units, encourage him to refer to the Handy Guide to Writing if he has questions about grammar, punctuation, or the writing process.
Reading and Questions
Materials: R is for Rhyme: A Poetry Alphabet by Judy Young
There are many different types of poems a poet can write. It is important to learn about some of the more common features, structures, and types of poetry. Writing poems that follow particular patterns is often a great way to begin your journey as a poet. Read the following poems and explanations in the book R is for Rhyme for each of these letters:

E is for End Rhyme
G is for Ghazal
I is for Iambic
M is for Metaphor
Q is for Quatrain
W is for Weak Rhyme

Then look through the book and choose at least three additional poems and explanations to read. When you are done, answer the following questions.
  1. Have you ever heard of any of the types of poems or poetry terminology found in the book? If yes, which ones?
    Answers will vary.
  2. Which poem was your favorite? Why?
    Answers will vary.
  3. Record the names of three of the additional poems you read. Why did you choose these?
    Answers will vary.