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Lesson Plan #:AELP-WCP0038
Submitted by: Kathi Twiselton
Endorsed by: Don E. Descy, Mankato State University Date: May 14, 1997

Grade Level(s): 4, 5


  • Language Arts/Writing (composition)

Description: This lesson is designed to give students a new or different way to write a poem. It is more structured than just telling students to write a poem, so some students may find they like this type of poem writing.


Students will discover a new way to write a poem, by using: who; what; when; where; and why, to write their poems.


  • Students will learn how to write W poems.
  • Students will create two of their own poems.

    This activity allows students to be creative in a structured environment. The students will learn that there are many different types of poems, and that this is just one way to write a poem. This is a fun activity to do when language arts class needs something a little different.


    Students will be able to:

  • Identify what each of the five Ws represent.
  • Write and edit their W poems.

  • Animalia by Graeme Base
  • A Light In the Attic by Shel Silverstein
  • Overhead
  • Letters of the alphabet in a hat(one letter per student if possible)
  • Paper
  • Pencils


    Today we are going to talk about poems. There are lots of different types of poems. There are short poems, long poems, poems that are about feelings, and poems that are about your senses. Just for fun I am going to read a couple of different types of poems to you from Shel Silverstein’s A Light In the Attic (pick two or three poems that are different and read them).

    Pre-Writing Activity

  • Today we are each going to write a poem of our own, but before we do, I am going to read Animalia to you (read Animalia and point out that it begins with a poem, and read the poem to the students).
  • You are each going to write a poem using a specific letter of the alphabet. Tomorrow after we have written our poems, we will use our poems to make a class book, kind of like Animalia.
  • For our class book we are going to write a certain type of poem called the W poem. Put up overhead with the following information: Five W’s:
    • Line 1: Who (the subject)
      Line 2: What (what happened)
      Line 3: Where (where did it happen)
      Line 4: When (when did it happen)
      Line 5: Why (why did it happen)
  • Put the following poem on the overhead:
    • Who: Xavier
      What: Played his xylophone
      Where: In the examining room
      When: In his spare time
      Why: While waiting for his x-rays

    Here is a poem that I wrote using the letter X, and the five W’s. The who is Xavier. The what, is played his xylophone, etc.

  • In order to read this poem, we need to cover up the five’s (do so with a piece of paper). Read the poem without the five W’s.
  • When you write your poems you may put the five W’s on th side of your page, but then for your final draft you must take them off, and write just your poem.
  • Remember to capitalize the beginning of every line.
  • Now we will do one as a class. What letter should we use? (let students pick a letter to use, and write it at the top of the overhead) Who has a who, or a subject for me? Write this on the overhead, and then continue until all five W’s are answered. Cover up the Five W’s, and ask for a volunteer to read the class poem.
  • Now I will let you draw a letter out of a hat. The letter you get is the letter you keep, no trading.
  • During Writing Activity

  • I will leave the five W’s up on the overhead for you to look at while you write your poems.
  • You may use your friends, your dictionaries, your thesauruses, and your teacher to find words if you get stuck.
  • You all have your letters, so you may start writing your poems.
  • Teacher walks around the room while students are writing, and helps with any spelling, or search for words, that needs to be done.
  • When students finish one poem have them write another.
  • Post-Writing Activity

  • Have students edit their poems.
  • If time, and students are done, share with class. Otherwise move on to conclusion/assessment.

    I need you all to write your names on the tops of these and pass them to the front of the room. If you are not done with them, they are homework. Tomorrow we will turn our poems into collages, and then we will turn them into a class book.