Poetry Unit for Elementary Classrooms

April is National Poetry Month, but Poetry can be taught all year long! I planned my fourth grade poetry unit for April, so that we could wrap it up with a Poetry Café room transformation the first week of May. It turned out to be one of my favorite writing units to teach, but it was daunting at first, because I hadn’t taught poetry before! So, I did lots of poetry lesson plan research, and am excited to share what worked great for us. If you’re in my boat, or you’re just looking to mix up your poetry unit for elementary or middle school, this is for you!!

This poetry unit study was three weeks long. Week One, I taught seven Figurative Language elements. Week Two, I introduced poetry – poetic elements, studying poems, brainstorming poem topics, and we dipped our toes into writing poetry. Week Three, we dove in to writing our own poems!! You can make this a short poetry unit, or a long one, but I value quality over quantity in my classroom. Here are my poetry lesson plans…

Week One – Figurative Language
My students didn’t have any background knowledge on figurative language, so we first spent time on that, because it makes up so much of the poetry we read! I purchased Joey Udovich’s Figurative Language Flip Book and it helped us practice each element.

I also downloaded these free Figurative Language Posters to introduce each element. We focused on one or two elements per day. I chose to teach – simile, metaphor, hyperbole, personification, idioms, alliteration, and onomatopoeia.

Here are the read-alouds I used to help teach these elements. We jotted down examples of these elements as we read to hang up next to the posters. (Amazon affiliate links included)

After spending the week learning about figurative language and putting it into practice, we reviewed with Deb Hanson’s free sorting activity! It was great to have students justify why they sorted the components how they did. We used the posters from earlier to help us if we got stuck, too!

Week Two – Introduction to Poetry
I first connected music to poetry, and we read and discussed some song lyrics. We tried to detect figurative language too! Then, we talked about how we would be writing our own poems, and we generated a list of ideas for poets, using this anchor chart.

The next day, we studied a poem. This lesson came directly from The Teacher Studio. So, I will direct you to her awesome blog post and free lesson! This helped my students get familiar with poetry, and our discussions were awesome!

If you are only able to purchase two resources for your poetry unit, I would suggest the Poetry Unit Bundle by Rockin Resources and the Poetic Elements Gallery Walk from Amazing Materials for You. These resources are both worth their weight in gold, and I truly believe in saving time by purchasing fabulous resources from other teachers!

I used the Poetry Bundle throughout my entire unit…Rockin Resources gives you everything you need to teach the different kinds of poetry and even gives the poem-writing sheets for your students to write their poems on. She also includes Poetic Elements posters, which I used to connect figurative language to poetry, and teach my students how to use poetic elements.

We used the Poetic Elements Gallery Walk on Day 3, after introducing poetic elements with the posters from Rockin Resources. To set up the gallery walk, I looked up the poem suggestions in the resource, and printed several of them out. I also printed some of the graphic organizers in the resource and made booklets for each student.

I taped the poems up outside, in our outdoor hallway. And then challenged students to find the poetic elements in the poems and fill out the organizers! Some were easier than others to find, but this really helped solidify figurative language and poetic elements!

Now it’s time to get to the Poetry Writing! I tried to keep everyone organized with a Poetry Portfolio – a folder with all of the poems they have written and will write. There is a cover that I printed for each student to color and glue on the front in the Poetry Bundle. I printed out both the Large Poetry Portfolio and the Small Poetry Portfolio pages that we used. The small pages also had the anchor charts next to them, and I used those for our rough drafts. Once they wrote the rough draft, they would come show it to me, we would fix mistakes, etc. Then they would copy the final draft onto the large poetry pages.

We started with the Haiku Poem. I used the Poetry Slam anchor charts to introduce all of the poems from the Poetry Bundle. We discussed how these poems all have to do with something in nature. So, we went outside to get ideas for our haikus. We used this Haiku Hike freebie to brainstorm ideas!

After we took field notes on what inspired us on our HaikuHike, we tried our hands at writing haiku poems! I really encouraged students to capture one moment in nature in their poems.

Weeks Three & Four – Write Original Poetry

This is when we really dove into writing more poetry. I chose seven poems to teach my students and to have them write. I found examples online to show them, but I would recommend these poetry books to find awesome examples and inspiration! Click here to find ALL of the books for this unit!

Each day I would introduce the new poem, show examples, explain how to write it using the anchor charts included in the Poetry Bundle, and then the students would work on writing that poem. At the end, they had a collection of beautiful poetry!!

Once we had learned about all of the poems and wrote our final drafts, we prepared for our Poetry Café! We practiced rehearsing our poems so we would be able to read them loud and clear. I can’t wait to share our poetry café with you next week, and give you tips and ideas, as well as a FREEBIE!! It was one of my favorite moments of the school year, and the perfect way to end our unit. Make sure to come back for that post, and pin this one for your poetry unit!!

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