Monday, June 11, 2018

Acrostic Poems: All About Me and My Favorite Things

Students will
  • find words that begin with the letters in their own names, using a variety of sources including word banks and online dictionaries.
  • create two acrostic poems.
  • revise poems as needed, for meaning and conventions.
  • share their poems with classmates.
  • complete a reflective self-assessment.


  1. Prepare for the session by loading the Little Explorers Picture Dictionary on computers.
  2. Display the letter/word matrix and blank chart paper side-by-side on a flat surface.
  3. Read and show some acrostic poems to students, using the examples that you have chosen from the Resources section or the booklist.
  4. Gather students and explain that they will help you write a poem using the letters in your name, and you need them to help you think of some words.
  5. On chart paper, write your own first name vertically down the left side, so that each letter can be the first letter of the first word of one line. Be sure to do this in front of the students (rather than in advance), so that the starting format can be modeled for the students.
  6. Have students read the letters aloud, starting at the top.
  7. Then write your name and the verb "is" on the top line, using the first letter. For instance, I would write, "Renee is."
  8. Ask students to suggest some words which begin with the next letter and which can describe you.
  9. Write all appropriate suggestions on the letter/word matrix and explain that the chart is going to be a word bank the whole class can use.
  10. If no one can come up with an appropriate word, refer to the online dictionary for some ideas. Show students how to find lists of words by clicking on a letter.
  11. Choose at least one word from the online dictionary and have a student add it to the matrix.
  12. When you have a few possible words, choose one and complete a phrase or sentence, writing it down and having students read it with you.
  13. Continue the process with all the letters of your name. My example:
    Renee is
    Never bored,
    Extremely helpful
    Extra kind.
  14. When the poem is complete, have students read it aloud together and then talk about it. Does it make sense? Do you get a picture of the person by reading the poem? Did we use complete sentences or just words and phrases? Is there anything we should change?
  15. If changes are suggested, talk about them and change some words if desired.
  16. Leave the poem displayed on the wall.


  1. Before starting, review the large chart paper matrix.
  2. Have students suggest more words for the matrix, and especially for any blank spaces. Try to have at least two words in each space.
  3. Have students begin by writing their names in capital letters down the left side of a sheet of paper, then to begin their poem by completing their name and adding "is" to the top line.
  4. Invite them to help each other find words they need that begin with the letters of their names, and to use those words in phrases.
  5. Have adult helpers assist students as needed, if they are available.
  6. As students work, invite them to add any particularly interesting words to the matrix for others to use, too. Keep in mind that they will be doing another acrostic poem about something they like, so including some of these images in their name poems would be particularly good.
  7. As students finish their poems, have them informally share with each other. Working with pairs or small groups of students, invite them to give each other suggestions. Encourage students to rewrite their poems on clean paper if they have done a lot of erasing. When all students are finished, have volunteers read their poems aloud to the group.
  8. Collect the poems and keep them for later use.


  1. Post a blank piece of chart paper to the right of your name poem.
  2. Gather students and explain that they are going to write another acrostic poem, this time about something that is important to them.
  3. Ask students to tell about some things that are important to them. Suggestions might be a pet, a favorite person, a favorite food, and so forth.
  4. Quickly review the process with students and give directions by choosing something that is a favorite of yours and writing that word down the left side of the chart paper.
  5. Then write the word and the verb "is" (or "are" if appropriate). For instance, you might write "Hedwig is" or "Cookies are."
  6. Have a student suggest words for the second line. It isn't necessary to complete this whole poem, since students have already been through the process.
  7. Have students choose what they will write about before they get a sheet of paper to begin.
  8. Ask them to write the word down the left side of the paper and show it to you before they begin writing their poem. At this point, you can check the spelling.
  9. As with the first poem, invite students to help each other, use an adult helper for extra assistance, encourage students to share their finished drafts with each other, and invite students to write a clean copy if necessary. 


  1. Tell students that they will work in groups to read each other's poems. Explain that they will trade poems with each other, read each other's poems, and give each other suggestions for alternate words and changes in spelling and/or capitalization.
  2. Make sure they understand that they should read all the poems in their group, so that everyone will get lots of suggestions and help.
  3. Point out to students that suggestions are optional, and that this is a time to try out different ideas, to get help with spelling, and to finish up their poems before they make a new, clean copy for publishing.
  4. Arrange students in heterogeneous groups, with four to a group. As they work, circulate among the groups to listen in, giving advice and ideas when necessary and appropriate.


  1. Before starting, transfer your name acrostic poem and your favorite thing poem to blank white copy paper. Fold a sheet of construction paper in half and glue one poem to each side of the inside of the folded paper.
  2. Gather students together. Show them your sample illustrated poems mounted on construction paper.
  3. Explain to students that you are going to give them both of their poems, and that they will do three things:

    1. trace over the words with a fine-tipped marker or colored pencil 
    2. illustrate their poems 
    3. mount their poems on construction paper


  • Have students create a "mother" or "father" acrostic poem for Mother's Day or Father's Day.
  • Have students create holiday acrostic poems.
  • Use the Acrostic Poem interactive to publish your poems. The Acrostic Poem Tool allows students to type in a word, create an Acrostic Poem, and then print out their writing.
  • Or, use the ReadWriteThink Printing Press interactive to publish your poems. The flyer templates will work for individual poems. Students might use the booklet template to create a collection of acrostics.
  • Have students pair off and write acrostic poems about each other.
  • If students have older classroom "buddies," have them write an acrostic about their buddies.


Monitor student progress during the lesson and as students work independently through anecdotal notetaking and kidwatching. Students can complete the questions on the Acrostic Poetry Reflection Checklist in writing or during a class discussion using one enlarged copy where student reflections are gathered.

English Picture Dictionary

Guess What's in the Bag: A Language-based Activity


Students will:
  • develop and use descriptive language to communicate in a large-group setting.
  • use prior knowledge and previous experiences to communicate clearly with their peers.
  • develop and use good listening skills to process information given by clue-givers.
  • develop and use good thinking skills to make logical predictions based on the clues.


Note: Each session should last from 10 to 15 minutes.
  1. Introduce the activity by discussing the importance of using descriptive language to get one's message across, emphasizing both speaking and listening skills.
  2. Practice by describing the characteristics of several exposed objects. Encourage students to talk about the shape, size, material, feel (e.g., hard/soft, bumpy/smooth, pointy/round) and possible uses of the objects.
  3. Place an object (or already have one) in the bag, making sure the students don't get a glimpse of it.
  4. Tell the students that there is an object in the bag, and they will be given five clues to help them guess what the object is.
  5. Choose five students.
  6. Explain that, without looking, each of them will feel the object inside of the bag and give one clue to describe it.
  7. Be prepared to prompt students who might have difficulty developing clues. For example, "Is it hard or soft?" "Does it have corners or curves?" "From what material is it made?"
  8. After the fifth clue is given, ask students from the audience to raise their hands to guess the object.
  9. If the students have not guessed correctly after four or five tries, reveal the object.
  10. Either when the object is guessed at or has been revealed, encourage the class to give more clues to describe the item.
  11. Following the whole-class activity, have the students do it online individually or in groups using the What's in the Bag? interactive with sound on or with sound off to reinforce reading and listening skills.
  12. Finally, encourage the students to play "Guess What's in the Bag" at home or on the road with their families. Have them bring home the directions and also let parents know how to access the online interactive.


  • Have students generate word sets/clues to share with other teachers and classes who are using this lesson.
  • Play a game of 20 Questions. For this game you will need: objects, a student leader (the person who has the unrevealed object), a student checker (the person whom the object is revealed to prior to any questions), and a student to keep tallies of the number of questions asked.

    The leader has an object in mind or hidden. They must tell/show the object to a designated checker before the questions begin. The students then ask a total of 20 yes/no questions to determine the object. For example, one might ask, "Can you eat it?" The leader responds with a "yes" or "no." This game encourages students to be good listeners and problem solvers. The answers to previous questions will help students determine what they should ask next.
  • Allow students time to visit the I Spy Website, where they can discover clever object associations, word play, and themes that help them build important learning skills, including reading, problem solving, and creativity.


Observe students' use of prior knowledge when they describe and guess at the objects, taking note of their abilities to make logical decisions based on the information/clues provided.

If the class generated a set of descriptors/clues as an extension, display it on the wall on chart paper for follow-up discussion about the variety of words used to describe objects. Observe participation and encourage them that they can add to the Word Wall throughout the year.

I Spy online

Theme Poems: Using the Five Senses


Students will
  • Analyze published shape poems to determine what they are and how they are written
  • Use sensory language while writing poems to accurately convey to the reader what they are experiencing
  • Analyze their use of sensory language by incorporating peer feedback in response to their theme poems


  1. Ask students what they think a shape poem is. (If you are working with older students, you could introduce the term concrete poem versus shape poem.) Brainstorm ideas for the definition of a shape poem to get students thinking and making predictions about the lesson’s content. Students’ ideas may include that a shape poem is a poem about a shape, or that it is a poem using shapes, or that it is a poem written inside of a shape. You will revise and clarify the definition as you read, so it is not important to start with a correct definition at this point in the lesson.
  2. Introduce the book Flicker Flash by Joan Bransfield Graham to the class. Tell students that you will be reading aloud a few poems from the book. For each poem, do not read the title; titles should be covered with sticky notes. After reading the poem, invite students to guess the title. Lead students to use both the poem’s words and shape to formulate their guesses. After several guesses, reveal the title. Continue in this manner for as many poems as you have time.
  3. Have students brainstorm definitions for shape poems again, this time guiding students to a final definition for a shape poem using the knowledge gained from reading a few models. The final definition should include these ideas: a shape poem is written in the shape of the topic, and the poem’s words describe its topic.


  1. Write a sample shape poem together as a class before having students write one independently. You may choose a shape for the poem or have the class vote on a few choices. Choose something the class enjoys and can describe well, such as the sun, an ice cream cone, a snowman, or a flower. Either draw a shape on the board, or if possible, project the interactive Theme Poems tool on screen and create a poem using that. This allows students to see how to use the tool so that they can use it independently in the computer lab during Session 4. The interactive tool creates the poem inside a shape, but the words do not necessarily create the shape themselves; these theme poem are slightly different than a true shape poem. Note this difference to students, which provides a good review of Session 1.
  2. After deciding on a shape, ask students to think of words and phrases that describe the subject. Focus on having students use as many of their five senses as possible. Now is a good time to discuss using words that “paint pictures in the reader’s mind” or that help the reader feel like he or she experiences what you, as the author, experience. Ask for volunteers to contribute words and phrases that describe the shape you chose. (If you drew a shape on the board, write those words inside the shape. If you are projecting the interactive Theme Poems tool, type those words on the Think of Words screen and then place them inside the shape.)

    As students brainstorm words for the poem, prompt them to use their five senses by asking, “What does it look/sound/smell/taste/feel like?” For example, if you are writing about an apple, the class should include description such as, “They can be red. They are juicy. Sweet juice drips down from my mouth as I crunch into the apple…crunch, crunch. They have soft insides and hard skins.” Choose whether or not you would like the class to use complete sentences, solely list words and phrases inside the shape, or do a mixture of both. Note:The interactive Theme Poems tool imposes a character limit on words inside the shape.
  3. After completing the poem, hand out copies of the Five Senses Checklist. As you read the class-created poem aloud, ask students if you wrote about the senses of sight and hearing in ways that help them experience it, too. (For example, if writing about an apple, ask the class, “Do you feel like you are seeing the apple? If not, what should we say to describe it better?”) Next, as a class, have students read the poem for the senses of smell, taste, and touch. Have students complete the checklist by determining if they can experience those senses from reading the poem. Add more description if students feel like they are not experiencing a specific sense.


  1. Show students the options for shape poems on the interactive Shape Poems tool. (Shapes are divided into the following categories: Nature, Sports, Celebrations, Shapes, and School. Sample shapes include a sun, leaf, fish, star, book, cake, football, soccer ball, basketball, heart, balloon, and gift.) Have students pick the shape they like best—one for which they feel they can give a lot of description. Make sure students’ chosen shapes are different from your modeled example from Session 2.
  2. Have students write down descriptive words and phrases about their chosen shape on the Think of Words screen or on a sheet of paper. Then have them arrange the descriptive words into the chosen shape, and print if using the online tool. After writing this first draft, have students review their writing using the Five Senses Checklist, and revise any descriptive words that may not meet the criteria on the checklist.
  3. Once students have revised their writing using the information from the checklist, have them meet with a partner to get feedback. Have both partners exchange poems and read each other’s poems using a second copy of the checklist. Ask partners to make sure they, as the readers, feel they can experience what the author does by reading the poems. The partners should switch poems and checklists back and explain their ratings on the checklist. Have authors make any necessary revisions to their poems based on the feedback they received from their partners.


  1. If you have not already done so in Session 2, show students how to use the interactive Theme Poems tool independently. Have students first select a shape. Have them skip the Think of Words section this time and instead start typing their poem into their chosen shape. Minor revisions may be needed to fit with the tool’s character count restrictions. Students should check their spelling and print their poems when they finish.
  2. Place the students into groups of three. Designate one person in each group to read his or her poem aloud to the rest of the small group. Then have the other two students share one thing they liked about the reader’s poem. Switch readers so that everyone has a turn to share their poem. This acts as a form of publishing and authors’ celebration. When all students have read their poems within their groups, have them hand in a copy of their final poems.


  • Read aloud Outside the Lines: Poetry at Play by Brad Burg (Putnam Juvenile, 2002). This is a book of shape poems where the poems’ shapes and content determine the order and direction they should be read. It is a fun but challenging book and would be best for second grade and older. After reading, have students create their own shape poems modeled after Burg’s.
  • Students can also create their own shape poems by drawing the shape on paper and writing the words in the form of the shape. This could be connected to content learning; for example, if students are learning about a butterfly’s life cycle in science, they could create their own butterfly shape poem using facts and description of butterflies and their life cycles.


  • Use the Theme Poem Rubric to assess students’ use of descriptive language and the five senses in their finished shape poems.
  • To assess students’ knowledge of the peer review process, have students articulate what changes they made based on their peers’ feedback. This can occur during one-on-one writing conferences, or you can also review each student’s Five Senses Checklist to see peers’ responses to the poems.

Reading Resoures

Reading Resources~


Lots of stories~

Acrostic Poems: All About Me and My Favorite Things Students will find wor...