The Joy of Teaching – An Evan-Moor Blog

Sharing creative ideas and lessons to help children learn

Poetry Unit “Ice Breakers”


Writing Poetry with ChildrenWhen it comes to teaching poetry, there seems to be a great divide between those who love it and those who dread it. I enjoyed studying poetry in college courses, yet I was nervous about teaching poetry to high school students. How do you convey the deep meaning packed in a few words or inspire students to write their own poetry?

A colleague suggested using a simple free verse poem template to introduce a poetry unit. The “These Have I Loved” poem proved to be an effective “ice breaker” for my poetry unit, and it has been adaptable for many grade levels.

If you need an easy poetry lesson to introduce your poetry unit, here are a few ideas:

“These Have I Loved” Poem

Students write their own free verse poem entitled “These Have I Loved.” The poem begins with “These Have I loved” and follows with a list of favorite sights, sounds, and life experiences.

The free verse poetry form is less intimidating to students as they begin writing their own poetry. It helps to write your own poem to read to students as a model. I also found that a whole-class brainstorm helped to get students’ creative juices flowing. Encourage students to appeal to all of the senses and vividly describe their favorite things.

Here’s one teen’s example of “These Have I Loved.”

For teacher reference: the poem is based on a section of Rupert Brooke’s poem “The Great Lover.”

Poetry Starters

Poetry Time

Poetry Time for Grades PreK-1: This download includes poetry starters, rhyming ideas, riddles, story time ideas, and pattern cards for creative expression.





Shape Poem for Grades 1-6: A shape poem is a fun way to introduce students to poetry. This unit includes an overview, levels I-II-III, and step-by-step organizer to assist students in writing their own shape poems.





“I Saw” Poetry Writing for Grades 3–6: Students describe an ordinary thing that they see everyday in a new and interesting way. This lesson provides an example, teaching suggestions, and a form on which students can organize their thoughts before writing a poem.




Evan-Moor Poetry Resources

Available as books or e-books, these poetry resources provide you with plenty of lessons to help children read, write, and appreciate poetry:

Poetry Patterns and Themes, Grades 3–6:
Poetry Patterns & Themes, Grades 3-6

Read and Understand: Poetry, Grades 2–3, 3–4, 4–5, 5–6:
Read and Understand Poetry, Grades 2-3 Read and Understand Poetry, Grades 3-4 Read and Understand Poetry, Grades 4-5 Read and Understand Poetry, Grades 5-6

Writing Poetry with Children, Grades 1–6:
Writing Poetry with Children 1 - 6

National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month! The Academy of American Poets created this poetry celebration in 1996. Visit their site for ideas and inspiration to celebrate poetry with your students.

Do you have other tips for introducing poetry to your students? Please share in the comments section.

Image of Theresa WoolerTheresa Wooler has more than 10 years’ experience in K–6 classrooms as a parent volunteer and homeschool educator, has taught high school English, and is currently involved in education through Evan-Moor’s marketing communications team.

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