Lesson plan

Onomatopoeia Poetry

Pop, whoosh, ding! Onomatopoeia is a writing technique that makes text come alive. In this lesson, students will learn about onomatopoeia, and apply it to their writing process to create poetry, as a class and individually.
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Students will demonstrate knowledge of onomatopoeia and its use in writing by producing onomatopoeia poetry. Student will display age-appropriate communication skills by reading at least one poem aloud to the group and commenting on two poems written by other students.

(15 minutes)
  1. Read one of the “Suggested Books” or another book that models onomatopoeia as a class.
  2. Ask students what writing techniques they noticed the author using to make his or her writing more meaningful and exciting for the reader. Guide students to focus on the use of sound words and the impact these have on a reader.
  3. Teach students that this literary device is called onomatopoeia.
(15 minutes)
  • Explain that students will be creating poems using onomatopoeia. Stress to students that there is no right or wrong way to do this and that the poem does not need to rhyme. Onomatopoeia should be highlighted in the poems, and you would like them to use sound words that they will brainstorm during their sound walk, but otherwise this is not a type of poetry with a specific format or structure.
  • Brainstorm a list of sound words that students can find on a sound walk. A sound walk is when one student leads another student whose eyes are closed/blindfolded. As the blindfolded student is led, he or she listens for whatever noises are occurring in the surrounding environment. (Without their sense of sight, the blindfolded students will be more attune to the sounds going on around them that they might not otherwise notice.)
  • Have each student pair up with a partner to go on a sound walk.
  • Discuss and model rules and expectations for the sound walk. Set clear boundaries for where partners can go.
  • Start the sound walk. The sighted partner should record the sound words dictated by the blindfolded partner. After a period of time, partners can switch roles, so that every student gets to experience listening for noises and describing them.

  • Suggested alternatives that do not require a student being blindfolded:
  • Partners embark on sound walk without using a blindfold.
  • Whole group records sounds, as they walk silently.
(10 minutes)
  • After the sound walk, students should gather as a whole group.
  • While students share their experiences and favorite sound words, record sound words in a manner that students can refer to during writing process.
  • Use this “word bank” to create a “class poem.”

Example of a class poem:

Boom. Like a cannon from the past. 
Crack. A baseball hits the bat.
Smack. The sound of victory.
Screams. Strike three?
(60 minutes)
  • Have students choose four sound words to use in their own poem.
  • Remind students that they will have a chance to share when they are done, so they want to do their best work. If students want to hear how their poem sounds as they write it, encourage them to mouth the poem silently to themselves.
  • After students write their poem, have them meet as a whole group to share these first drafts. Remind students that all writing improves from revisions and edits.
  • Model your expectations for the revision and editing process using the class poem previously created. (If you have editing and revising checklists that you use in your classroom, now is a great time to pass them out to your students. I recommend doing this as two separate steps on different days, but if time is crunched, revising and editing can be combined. Encourage students to go through the poem at least 2 times: once for revisions and once for editing if these steps are combined.)
  • Help students to choose partners or groups of three to edit and revise their individual poems the same way the class worked together on the class poem.
  • Enrichment: For a greater challenge, increase the number of mandatory sound words in the poem or provide a list of higher-level sound words that need to be used in the poem.
  • Support: For students needing extra assistance, the class can brainstorm a group list of additional sound words to be left on the board as students start writing. Writing the poems with a partner can also offer the opportunity to pair students with different skill sets to help one another through the initial writing process.
  • Playing CDs or online clips of different environments enables the sound walk activity to take place inside the classroom without having to go outside or to a different venue for inspiration.
  • Additionally, using word processing on the computer to publish adds excitement. Instead of paper publishing, students can also use computers to publish their poems on an online forum.
(20 minutes)
  • After this lesson, students should be able to point out examples of onomatopoeia in their own writing and in writing done by other authors.
  • They should be able to independently brainstorm a list of at least 10-15 sound words.
  • Students should have a finished poem including several examples of onomatopoeia that has gone through the entire writing process at the end of lesson.
(20 minutes)
  • After students revise and edit their poems, call them back together to discuss publishing.
  • With the students, type up the class poem and create an illustration to go with it. Remind students that the final part of the writing process is sharing their writing with others.
  • Have students create professional, final copy versions of their poems and illustrations to go along with them.
  • Remind students how far they have come in their writing by:
  1. Reviewing the name and uses of the new literary technique, onomatopoeia, they have learned.
  2. Discussing the writing process they went through to create their poems (brainstorming, rough drafts, editing, revising, and publishing).
  • When everyone’s poems are completed, a group sharing time offers an excellent chance to honor the hard work that has been done and to make sure every student has a chance to talk about their writing process.
  • This can be done by having every child take a turn sitting in an author’s chair to read their poem and answer questions about it. You might also consider having a publishing party where you invite other classes or outside guests!

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