December 31, 2016
by Anna Whaley

Lesson plan

Painting Poetic Pictures with Words!

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Grade Subject View aligned standards
  • Students will be able to distinguish between general and specific words.
  • Students will be able to select specific and vivid words related to poetry that they will write.
  • Students will be able to use spelling strategies to attempt spelling words of choice.
  • Students will be able to revise and edit their writing.
(5 minutes)
  • Invite the students to participate in a shared class drawing.
  • Explain that each student will have the opportunity to add to the drawing but that their turn is over when they lift the pencil or marker.
  • Post a large piece of chart paper or use an interactive whiteboard.
  • Invite all students to the front of the class and have the students form a line.
  • Have one student begin the drawing and then pass the pencil or marker on to the next student in line.
  • Once the drawing is complete, lead a brief discussion about the drawing. What details can the students find?
  • Tell the students that writing is like drawing or painting a picture. The details and word choices are very important because they help the reader make a vivid image of the writing.
  • Tell the students that they will be working on choosing and editing words for poems that they will write.
(10 minutes)
  • Tell the students that when we write we can “paint pictures” with our words. We can use words that help the reader get a vivid mental image.
  • Explain that you are going to start with a general word and that you are going to brainstorm other words that are more specific and vivid. (If needed, explain the difference between general and specific words.)
  • Using the purpose of writing a persona poem from the perspective of a snowman, write three words on the board, one below the other: "hard," "cold," "stuck." (If desired, you can use another topic of choice.)
  • Model the process of brainstorming synonyms for the word “hard,” such as the words “firm” or “solid.” Write these words directly next to the word “hard."
  • Continue with the word “cold", writing the words “freezing” and “frigid".
  • On each of the first two lines, circle the words that are the best words to use.
  • As you point to the word “stuck", think aloud, telling the students that you are thinking of the word “jabbed” but don’t know how to spell it.
  • Draw a chart on the board that resembles the spelling independent practice page chart.
  • Model the process of attempting to spell the word “jabbed” and “pressed” twice. Then show the students how you can use a dictionary to figure out the spelling.
(10 minutes)
  • Guide the students in using a different topic, brainstorming the best words to use, circling those words, and attempting to spell unknown words. Sample topic and word choices: Use the topic of a squirrel. Brainstorm words that mean the same as “looking” (gazing) and “running” (scampering, dashing).
  • Give students the opportunity to add words to the chart or attempt their own words.
  • Challenge the students and ask them to create a picture of what each word looks like. Encourage them to be specific.
  • If students need extra practice, give each student a sticky note and a selected topic. Have the students brainstorm general and specific words for that topic.
(15 minutes)
  • Ask students to beginning brainstorming a topic for their poem. Tell them that they will be working on selecting words that they can use when writing their poem. Emphasize the importance of “painting pictures with words."
  • Distribute the Poetry Planner: Choosing My Words worksheet and have the students work on generating specific words that match general words and then choosing their own words to match their poetry topics.


  • Have students brainstorm words for a contrasting topic so that they have two sets of words that tell about two distinct topics.
  • Ask students to create a visual for their poetry theme or topic.


  • For students who have difficulty getting started with their topics, provide a list of potential topics or brainstorm topics with small groups of students.
  • Use visuals or technology tools such as “Visual Thesaurus” to help students find their words.
  • In place of using chart paper and markers, have the students use the interactive whiteboard to create their class illustration.
  • Have students use a graphic or image search to find pictures that inspire their poetry.
  • Ask students to create an image using Google Drawings that can be used to create a poem.
(5 minutes)
  • Ask students to circle the most specific words among the words that they brainstormed on their worksheets.
  • Ask students to use these words in a phrase that relates to their topic.
(5 minutes)
  • Invite students to share their topics and words with classmates, along with ideas for their poems.
  • Discuss how their words could be used at a later time to create a poem.

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