Language Arts, Writing, Writing Process
Grade 3- 5
Students write poems using similes to describe colors from every sense but sight, requiring them to think about a topic that is primarily visual but describe it without using any visual references.
Background for the Teacher
Preparation: Reproduce the Sensational Colors worksheet and the Color Poem Response and Assessment Sheet. Gather other materials needed for the lesson.
- Ask students to close their eyes. Call on one student and ask that student to describe what the color red looks like. Most likely, the student will have difficulty and end up saying something like, "Red is red. I don't know!" The student might make comparisons to red objects, saying, "Red is like strawberries or a fire engine." Ask the student to further describe, saying "I don't know what a strawberry looks like. What do you mean?" You may need to assist by offering, "Perhaps red on a strawberry is rough but sweet-tasting."
- Have students describe another color in the same manner, trying to avoid visual images and instead offering other sensory descriptions--texture, taste, sound, or smell. If a student uses a visual comparison ("Yellow is like the sun."), prompt the student to offer more information using other senses: "Yellow is burning, bright, and hot."
- Distribute one crayon to each student. Instruct students to sit with other students who have the same color of crayon. This will be their writing group for the color poem.
- Tell students that they will be writing a poem about a color. They are to write the poem as if they were writing it for a person who has a visual handicap. The person may not know what certain objects look like so they cannot write about things that are the color. Instead, instruct students that they are to describe their color from each of the other senses: sound, smell, taste, and feel.
- Remind students that they will be using similes to compare their color to different sounds, smells, tastes, and textures.
- Distribute the Sensational Colors worksheet to each group of students. Review the directions with them before completing the sheet.
- When groups have completed the brainstorming worksheet, share several sample color poems with them, either the four found at the bottom of this lesson plan or others found at the "Have You Heard the Sound of . . . ?" Web site. Point out particularly effective word choices. Elicit student feedback regarding the comparisons the authors used. Note the structure of the poems for students.
- Instruct groups to review their ideas from the Sensational Colors worksheet and select those ideas which make the strongest comparison for each sense. Tell students to use their ideas to draft each line of the color poem. Provide a color poem outline (page 76) for students to use, if necessary, for drafting their poems.
- Once the poems are drafted, students should share their color poems with peer responders. Provide the Color Poem Response and Assessment Sheet for this purpose. Peer responders should check to make sure that each line describes the color through a different sense, that no visual comparisons have been used, and that similes are used in each line. Responders could also make suggestions for stronger word choice as appropriate.
- Following peer response, students should make any necessary revisions before writing a final copy of the poem.
Students could write their final copy of the color poem in the same color ink as their topic and mount it on poster board. They could then cover the poster board with scraps of material that matches their topic color. Try to obtain a wide variety of textured materials such as corduroy, silk, cotton, flannel, wallpaper samples, corrugated paper, carpet samples, etc. This will provide a textured backing to enhance their "non-visual" color poem.
White is like the sound of ice cubes clinking in a glass.
White is like the smell of freshly picked daisies from a green, green meadow.
White is like the taste of sweet, creamy ice cream on a hot summer day.
White is like the feel of a soft, fluffy pillow comforting you to sleep.
Blue smells like the fresh, salty ocean as the breeze blows across it.
Blue sounds like a peaceful river flowing through the forest.
Blue tastes like a slippery, sweet lollipop energizing you in the middle of the afternoon.
Blue feels like soaring through the air with the birds and the clouds.
Brown is like the taste of rich, thick chocolate as you smooth it around on your tongue.
Brown is like the smell of tangy spices, soaking into barbecued meat.
Brown is like the sound of construction equipment, struggling to move the earth.
Brown is like the feeling of sluggishness, like lying around all day.
Pink tastes like light, sugary cotton candy you get at the circus.
Pink smells like a baby just after a bath.
Pink sounds like tiny, glass wind chimes blowing in the breeze.
Pink feels like a light feather tickling your skin.
- 3-4 crayons in red, green, blue, yellow, orange, black, purple, white, and brown
- Sensational Colors worksheet (page 75)
- Color Poem worksheet (page 76)
- Color Poem Response and Assessment Sheet (page 78)
- scraps of various colored materials, such as:
- poster board