Lessons & Units :: Words with Wings: A Treasury of African-American Poetry and Art 5th Grade Unit

Genre Lesson: Poetry

Lesson Plan

A Light in the Attic | NP

A Light in the Attic
Learning Goal
Identify elements of poetry.
Approximately 2 Days (40 minutes for each class)
Necessary Materials
Provided: Elements of Poetry Handout, Elements of Poetry Worksheet (Student Packet, page 2)
Not Provided: Song lyrics, chart paper, markers, A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein, Words with Wings: A Treasury of African-American Poetry and Art by Belinda Rochelle
  • Before the Lesson

    Prior to the lesson, ask students to bring in the lyrics to their favorite song. Write the poems “How Not to Dry the Dishes,” “Strange Wind,” “Bear in There,” and “Standing is Stupid” on chart paper.

  • Activation & Motivation

    Prior to the beginning of the lesson, ask students to bring in the lyrics to their favorite song. Collect the song lyrics the students have brought in. Sort through the lyrics for appropriateness and look for lyrics that have a rhyming quality. Ask the students who brought the lyrics in to read the lyrics aloud in front of the class. You may also want students to bring in a CD of the song to hear the lyrics as they are sung. Note: Teachers may choose to bring in their own song lyrics to a popular song, should they be concerned about appropriateness.

    Discuss with the class what makes the song catchy. Explain that songwriters make a song memorable by having a hook that repeats (either a musical phrase or a chorus) throughout the song. That is what gets stuck in your head. Songwriters also often rhyme their words and use figurative language to make their songs memorable (particularly rap and hip hop lyrics use metaphors and similes). Finally, the songs have rhythm. If a song catches in your head, you might tap your feet to the beat.

  • Teacher Modeling

    will explain that like songwriters, poets use rhyme, repetition, figurative language, and rhythm to make poems easy to read and remember. I will use the Elements of Poetry Handout to define and give an example of each of these elements. I will explain that all poems have at least one element of poetry; some poems may have two or more. I will use the Elements of Poetry Handout to identify the elements of poetry in select poems of A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein. When I find an element in the poem, I will underline the line or phrase and write on the margins of the page.

    I will read aloud “How Not to Have to Dry the Dishes.” I will point out various elements of poetry in this poem. I see that the line “If you have to dry the dishes” is repeated three times in the poem. This repeating of lines is repetition. I will underline one example of the repeating line, and write “repetition” in the margin of the poem. I also see that some lines in the poem rhyme at the end. In this poem, lines 2, 4, 6, and 8 rhyme. I will underline the rhyming pairs and write “rhyme” in the margin.

    When I read the poem, I hear a certain rhythm. Rhythm is a pattern of long and short, or strong and weak sounds. I will read the poem aloud again to listen for rhythm. (Emphasize the words with the beat as you read. For example, "have to" and "dishes," "awful" and "chore.") I see that the last two lines break the repetition and the rhythm. But I have to naturally keep the rhythm as I read so that the whole poem has a consistent sound pattern. This consistent pattern is called meter. On the poem, I will draw a small small caret “^” above the words with the beat/emphasis (the words bolded above). Next to it in the margin, I will write Rhythm/Meter. 

    Next, I will look for figurative language. I don’t see any in this poem, so I will read “Strange Wind” aloud. I will identify the simile that compares the wind to “a worried old woman with so much to say.” I will read the definition of simile from the Elements of Poetry Handout to confirm. I will underline the phrase and write “Figurative Language: Simile” on a sticky note and place the note on the poem. You may also model identifying the rhyme and repetition in the poem.

  • Think Check

    Ask: "How can I identify elements of poetry?" Students should answer that you can identify elements of poetry by reading the poem silently and then aloud to establish rhyme, rhythm, meter, and other elements of poetry in a poem.

  • Guided Practice

    will read aloud “Bear in There” and identify the elements of poetry that the poet used in this poem. Ask: "Which elements of poetry can you find in this poem?" Students should identify rhyme and underline the rhyming word pairs: Bear, Frigidaire, There, Scare; Seat, Meat; Fish, Dish; Rice, Ice; Roar, Door. In the margin, we will write “rhyme.” Ask: "What element of poetry is in the third line?" Students should identify Figurative Language: Alliteration (‘cause it’s cold). Are there other lines in this poem that feature alliteration? (nibbling noodles; slurping soda). We will underline these phrases and write “Figurative Language: Alliteration” in the margins. 

    We will read aloud “Standing is Stupid” to look for the remaining element on the Elements of Poetry Handout. We will see if we can find elements we have not yet found, such as metaphors.

  • Independent Practice

    will work in groups to read the poem “This Morning” from Words with Wings and identify the elements of poetry in the poem You and your team members will read the poem alone first. You will write down the Elements of Poetry you can identify on your own on the Elements of Poetry Worksheet in your Student Packet. (See page 2 in the Student Packet.) Note: Instead of having students record their answers directly on the worksheet, you may want to have them record their answers on sticky notes and stick the notes in the correct area on the worksheet. Your group will then read the poem together and identify all the elements in the poem. Your group will prepare to read the poem aloud and share the elements you have identified with the class.

  • Reflective Practice

    will read the poems aloud and share the elements of each. Discuss which element is most prominent in each poem. How does it enhance the poem? How are songs like poems?

Build Student Vocabulary slurping

Tier 2 Word: slurping
Contextualize the word as it is used in the story “He’s (the bear) slurping the soda, he’s licking the ice.”
Explain the meaning student-friendly definition) If someone is slurping, they are making loud noises with their mouth while eating or drinking. When the narrator of the poem said that the bear was slurping the soda, he meant that the bear was making loud noises with his mouth while drinking the soda.
Students repeat the word Say the word slurping with me: slurping
Teacher gives examples of the word in other contexts Please do not slurp while you drink because it is impolite. She slurped her drink and got it all over her shirt.
Students provide examples Have you ever slurped? What did you slurp? Start by saying, “I slurped _________________________.”
Students repeat the word again. What word are we talking about? slurping
Additional Vocabulary Words nibbling, munching

Texts & Materials

Standards Alignment

(To see all of the ReadWorks lessons aligned to your standards, click here.)

User Comments

I was just wondering where you find the student packet worksheets? I cannot seem to locate them. Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks!

Thanks for sending along your question! To find the Student Packet, please visit the unit page here: http://www.readworks.org/lessons/grade5/words-wings-treasury-african-american-poetry-and-art

Scroll down to the Teacher and Student Materials section and click on the title, "Teacher and Student Materials." Under this section you will find the Student Packet and other materials for this unit. Thanks!

This is what I needed to make poetry more hands on! Thank you. Excellent!!

Great! Perfect timing! Thanks for this wonderful resource.

Great lesson and unit. This makes finding main idea with the common core interesting and fun again!

I love Shel Silverstein, too. Too bad Common Core has removed any sense of enjoyment and childishness from their poetry selections.

I have no idea what this post is talking about! Nowhere does the big bad "Common Core" delegate a particular state's, district's, school's, or teacher's selection of what poetry it chooses when teaching the literary standards.
If that were so, why would anyone be using this site?

Great lesson. I love Shel's poems! Thank you for this wonderful resource.

Fantastic! What a great "hook" to elements of poetry. Thank You!

This was a fantastic lesson! I am a veteran teacher and I found this to be a great resource. Why re-invent the wheel if you don't have to.

OMG!!! This lesson, so far is great. I am a student teacher and I wanted a different way to elements of a poem. I came across this entire lesson plan. I will keep you up to date on my progress. Thank you. Today was day one.