Free Verse

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Language Arts, Writing, Traits of Writing

Grade 3- 5


Students learn about writing poetry and write their own free verse poems.


Discuss with students how to write a poem. Introduce the following three-step method.
1.Choose a Subject
Just about any subject or idea will work. As you read more poetry, you will discover that poems have been written on just about every topic imaginable. It's a good idea to choose a subject that is familiar to you. Good subjects might be your pet, a family member, how you felt about an experience or event, a dream you had, or even what you see from the window of your room.
Here are a few ideas to get your imagination in gear:
Think about a subject that is very important to you. Maybe it's baseball, clean air, world peace, or new shoes. If it's important to you, it will make a good poem because you will put energy and feeling into it. Think of some subjects that are often overlooked, such as a far corner of the garage, an old toy, or even your elbow. Things we don't pay much attention to often make good poem subjects.
Think of an event in your life and write your feelings about it. It could be a death in the family, a broken arm, a flight on an airplane, or visiting a faraway relative. Remember your senses when you think of topics for poems. You could write a poem about the sound of a dripping faucet at night, the smell of your dog coming in from the rain, or the sight of the sky after a storm.
2.Prepare to Write
You may want to let your idea "incubate." Incubation is a word many writers use for prewriting. During this time, think about your topic, add to it and think of other things that are related to your topic and what it is that you want to say about it. Ask yourself "what if..." questions such as "What if my elbow got stuck?", or "What if I had three elbows on each arm?", or "What if my old teddy bear started to talk? Would he tell me about everything I did as a baby?"
3.Write the Poem
Once you have lots of ideas and notes, it's time to get your poem on paper. Some poets write their poems just once and never change them. This doesn't always happen, though, and when it does, the poet has probably spent a lot of time thinking about the poem ahead of time. Usually poems are written just like anything else that is written. There are scratch-outs, mess-ups, and changes made until it is finished. Polish it as much as you can, avoiding imitation of another poet or person. Some of the best things about poetry are that it is imperfect and individual. You can structure your poem any way you want. It can have stanzas, rhyme, or it can be free verse. It's up to you. But don't be surprised if your poem takes shape as you are writing it.
Introduce the idea of free verse poetry to students. Distribute the Free Verse activity sheet and discuss the example poem on the page. Then have students work independently to write their own free verse poems.


  • Free Verse activity sheet
  • pencils or pens

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