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How to Write Shape Poems - A Lesson for Middle School

By Kellie Hayden

The trick to motivating middle school students to write poetry is to focus on their interests, hobbies, and passions. Making a shape or concrete poem that focuses on this interest is usually considered easy. To add a bit of difficulty to this lesson, students will learn about metaphors and similes

Take Your Students Through Three Levels

Shape poems or concrete poems are enjoyable to write. This creative writing can be used as introductory activity for a poetry unit. The three levels are included to help with differentiation. The three levels all students in a classroom to find success in this lesson.

Write a Shape Poem Writing a Shape Poem: Easy Level

1. Choose a topic. It is easier to write about something you like. Ask students to write about a favorite hobby, interest, sport, collection, activity, game, etc.

2. Begin by brainstorming topics on the board. This activity usually brings excitement when students find out that they can write poetry about football, hunting, or scrapbooking instead of just about love.

3. Tell students to draw a shape in which to wrap the poem. It could be a heart, football, baseball, fishing pole, car, computer, flower, etc.

4. Direct students to write a four-to-six line rough draft of a poem on the topic. Decide ahead of time if the poem needs to rhyme. Most students know how to write a rhyming poem.

5. Ask students to write the poem neatly around the shape. Color the shape to add creativity and interest.

Adding Difficulty to the Assignment: Medium Level

1. When students write the rough draft, ask them to include an example of a simile. A simile compares two things using like or as. For example, her hair was like golden waves rippling down her back. Or, Brian was as big as an oak tree.

2. The poem should be at least six lines long.

3. Words could be written creatively in other places than wrapped outside of the shape. Color should be used creatively.

Adding More Difficulty to the Assignment: Challenge Level

1. When students write a rough draft, ask them to include examples of a simile, a metaphor and alliteration. A metaphor compares two unlikely things. For example, her brown eyes were rivers of emotion or Darin was the rock of his team. Alliteration is where three words or more in a line start with the same consonant. For example, Connie cooks her own cookies. Or, Rick threw the rock in the river.

2. The poem should be six to eight lines long.

3. The shape should be formed by the words creatively. There should be no drawing, just words. For example, students could take the words to a poem about baseball and the circle shape and the sewing lines become areas to write. Color can be used to add interest. Proudly display all of the poems in the room. The poems will be as unique as the students who write them.

This differentiated lesson can be fun for every student in the classroom. Shape poems showcase students' creativity and can be quite fun to write and the displayed poems will add artwork to the language arts classroom.


Shape Poems,

Photo Credit: Kellie Hayden