Lesson plan

Elements of Poetry

Introduce your students to some of the major structural elements of poetry in this comprehensive lesson.
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Students will be able to identify twelve structural elements of poems.

(5 minutes)
  • Display and read a poem aloud, like Be Glad Your Nose Is on Your Face by Jack Prelutsky (see Suggested Media).
  • Then, have students reread it silently.
  • Highlight or point out a stanza and explain that a stanza is a group of lines that are set apart from other groups of lines.
  • Tell students that in many genres of writing, text is divided into chunks to make it easier to read, like a chapter in a book, or a scene in a play.
  • Explain that a stanza is one element of poetry and today we will be exploring some other elements and types of poetry.
(10 minutes)
  • Display the Poetry Guide Tool Box from the Poetry Guide worksheet and go over each of the elements of poetry.
  • As you introduce each element, review the provided example and ask students to come up with and share additional examples (e.g., "box" and "fox" are an example of rhyming words).
(10 minutes)
  • Revisit the poem you read at the beginning of the lesson and identify which elements of poetry are present (i.e., the word "rattle" is an example of onomatopoeia; the author uses a rhyme scheme in which the first two lines in the stanza rhyme and the second two lines rhyme).
  • Hand out the second page of the Poetry Guide worksheet to all students so that they have six sample poems.
  • Have students work in small groups to read the first two poems on the worksheet. Instruct students to identify three elements total from the poetry tool box.
  • Keep the Tool Box portion of the worksheet displayed for student reference.
(10 minutes)
  • Have students independently read through the remaining four poems on the worksheet, identifying elements in each so that all twelve elements are accounted for when the worksheet is complete. Remind students to highlight or write notes on the poems to show an example of each element.
  • Circulate and offer support as needed.


  • Provide an additional example during guided practice by leading students through the first poem on the worksheet.
  • Provide a partially completed worksheet during independent practice by highlighting or making notes on the worksheet before handing it out (i.e., circle and split a multi-syllabic word; underline an example of metaphor and label it).


  • Have students apply the skills learned to try writing their own poem.
  • Hand out the third page of the Poetry Guide worksheet and, as a class, discuss the structure and history of specific types of poems.
  • Show students examples of other types of texts (e.g., drama, prose) and use a venn diagram to compare the elements of poetry to the elements found in the other types of text.
  • Discuss specific rhyme schemes, then have students go back through the poems on the worksheet to label the rhyme schemes (i.e., the rhyme scheme for a limerick is AABBA).
(7 minutes)
  • Display and read a poem aloud, like Antigonish by Hughes Mearns (see Suggested Media).
  • Call out an element of poetry and have students give a thumbs up signal if they see it in the poem.
  • If the element you’ve picked is in the poem, call on a student to give an explanation or show where they see it in the poem (i.e., the author uses repetition when he writes, “go away, go away”).
  • Continue through all twelve elements.
  • Repeat with a second poem if time permits (see Suggested Media).
(3 minutes)


  • How is poetry structured differently than other forms of literature (i.e., books, plays, articles)?
  • What elements are similar to the elements found in other forms of literature? (Possible answer: Stanzas are like paragraphs in an essay or chapters in a book.)

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