5 Easy Ways to Teach Poem Analysis

April is one of my favorite months. My tulips start to bud, the weather is warmer, the grass is greener, and the air is fresher. My daughter was also born in April, which really tipped the scales to being one of my top three favorite months. In addition, April is National Poetry Month!

Spring is such a fantastic time to teach poetry. There are so many spring poems. Students can go outside to write their own poems and glean inspiration from the beautiful weather. As the school year winds down, poetry is an excellent type of literature that doesn’t have to be taken so seriously as the silliness starts to take hold of our students. Nonetheless, if you would like your students to get to the heart of a poem, we have rounded out 5 easy ways to teach poem analysis through acronyms, journal responses, and art.

The first three ways refer to acronyms. I have used these acronyms for upper elementary to middle school students to teach basic poem analysis. 

1. SOAP Method of Poem Analysis

Using the acronym of SOAP, students read a poem two-three times and then write down the various main aspects of the poem. SOAP stands for Speaker, Occasion, Audience, and Purpose

S: Students write down who is speaking or telling the poem, whether it’s the author or narrator, a character, or an object from the poem. 

O: Next, students think about the Occasion or what is occurring in the poem. The occasion is referring to the setting such as time and place. How does what’s going on affect the poem? 

A: The Audience refers to whom the poem was written. Was the intended audience children of all ages, adults, or everyone? Take it a step further and write how we know who the audience probably is. 

P: Purpose refers to what you believe the author’s purpose was when writing this poem. Was it supposed to be comical? Was there an overall meaning the writer wanted us to learn? What do we gain from reading this poem? 

2. TATTLE Method of Poem Analysis

Using the acronym TATTLE (and what student doesn’t know this word), students read a poem and write down the various aspects that TATTLE refers to. TATTLE means Title, Author, Tone, Theme, Language, and Explanation.

T: Students write the title of the poem, normally at the top of the page. 

A: The author of the poem is written beneath the title.

T: Students write down the tone of the poem. What is the author’s attitude toward the message being conveyed? Is the author conveying a funny or serious tone? Is the tone educational, meaning the author is trying to teach us something? Tone reveals the author’s feelings toward his writing. 

T: Students explore the theme of the poem. What was the universal theme or message the author wanted us to learn? Was it kindness, honesty, or being respectful? What can we glean from this poem? 

L: Language: Did this poem rhyme or was it unrhymed? If it rhymed, what was the rhyme scheme? Was this a long poem or a short poem? How many stanzas were there and what lines are in each stanza? Why do you think the author made these particular language choices for this poem?

E: Lastly, E is for explanation and this is a little more free-flowing. Students explain any connections they make with the poem. 

3. TWIST Method of Poem Analysis

Using the acronym TWIST, students analyze the Tone, Word Choice, Imagery, Style, and Theme.

T for Tone refers to the author’s attitude toward what they’re writing. Are they trying to convey a humorous tone or a serious one?

W for Word Choice refers to the author’s usage of words. Were the words chosen meant to convey fear? Therefore, the word choice is troubling. Were the words chosen meant to be sad? Therefore, the word choice is sorrowful.

I is for Imagery. What images did this poem show in your mind? 

S is for Style. Did the poem rhyme or was it unrhymed? What is the length of the poem? How many stanzas? 

T is for Theme. What is the message or overall meaning the author wants us to learn?

4. Poem Response Journals

Sometimes acronyms and what each letter requires can be daunting. Perhaps you teach lower elementary students and want something a bit simpler.

A poem response journal is just perfect as one of the 5 easy ways to teach poem analysis. Students read the poem two to three times, and answer some questions about each poem such as: Did you like this poem? Why or why not? How do you connect to this poem? Explain. Explain how this poem was meant to be funny or serious. 

Students use poem response journals to connect with poems in a more flexible way, determining if they liked it, how they related to it, and any other specific questions relating to the poem. 

Students can also take it a step further and become inspired by the poems they read by writing their own poems in their journals. For instance, after reading Sick by Shel Silverstein, a student can write their own version of a poem about being sick.

We have a free mini-poem response journal available here. It has five poems that were already chosen, and it contains specific response questions for students to answer. Grab yours today.

5. Incorporating Art Method of Poem Analysis

Poetry evokes imagery. After explaining to students how imagery creates pictures in our heads, students will read a poem two to three times. Lastly, the teacher reads the poem aloud as the students close their eyes and imagine what they hear. 

I recommend that each student have an art pad with blank paper inside. Students write the title and author at the top of their blank paper and draw the images they see in their minds as they read the poem or heard it being read aloud. 

Put on some nice, relaxing music as the students draw their imagery. This type of visual response makes the poem more personal to students and makes them actively engaged in their poem reading. Good readers visualize as they read and this act of visualizing helps create strong readers. Additionally, drawing what you read helps you dive into all the details of the poem without glossing over the main parts. 


By utilizing 5 easy ways to teach poem analysis through acronyms, journal responses, and art, students can analyze poetry in meaningful ways that promote writing, various literary elements, and even imagery. 

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9 Ways to Help Students Love Poetry

Poetry and spring go together like fresh flowers and rich soil. April is National Poetry Month and as the school year tends to wind down in the spring, it is an excellent time to dive into poetry. I have enjoyed teaching poetry to elementary students all the way to high school seniors during my career. I have found 9 ways to help students love poetry! 

Reading and writing poems can be an enjoyable and creative experience as well as an outlet for social and emotional learning. Poetry doesn’t have to be scary to teach, nor does it have to be overwhelming or boring for students. Poetry is beautiful to read, and because there are so many different types of poetry out there, students can let their creativity abound as they explore this form of literature. 

1. Read, read, and read all the poems!

One of the best ways to get students excited about poetry is to begin by reading some popular poems that’ll make them see how fun poetry can be! Some of the poems I have read over the years that students have loved the most are written by Shel Silverstein or Jack Prelutsky. I always start with a light-hearted poet that can elicit some great laughs. Here are some poems I have found students, both elementary to middle school, have loved the most! 

Once students see how light-hearted and fun poetry can be, then you can slowly introduce more serious poems. The best way to introduce students to poetry is just by reading it aloud to them!

2. Write Poetry Freely!

Before teaching the requirements and technical aspects of poetry such as rhyme scheme, meter, and rhythm, I like to just give students the chance to write their own poems freely. Their poems can rhyme or not rhyme. They can be short or lengthy. They can tell a story, or they do not have to make any sense. 

By giving them creative license to write how they view and perceive poetry, students are more receptive once some guidelines are put in place for more required poetry writing later on. Students can also see how fun writing can be when I excitedly praise their poem about an elephant eating cotton candy or the family who lived in the sand castle.

By giving creative license, I’ve seen students write the funniest poems and also the most serious and emotional ones. Free writing poetry without any rules can be an amazing social and emotional outlet for students, especially those who have a harder time expressing themselves verbally. 

Give no boundaries to poetry writing at first. Can you imagine putting Dr. Seuss in a box with his writing? We wouldn’t have his creative books today. 

3. Use the Great Outdoors!

Give students a poem journal or a poetry packet and take them outside into the beautiful spring weather. Have them write poems about what they see, smell, and hear when they’re outside in spring. By being outside in nature, inspiration strikes readily. If a student struggles with this, then give them one word to focus their spring poem on such as wind, tulips, grass, etc. 

Nature is stress relieving and calming. I remember vividly the times our teacher took us outside for a lesson. It’s always a good idea to get out into nature and breathe in some fresh air, especially to glean inspiration to write a poem.

4. Start Small

As you move into having students write various poems, start small and then move on with more poem requirements. For instance, after free writing poems, challenge students to tackle simple cinquains, acrostics, and haikus, poems with various rules to follow. Make sure to read lots of examples beforehand and during the process!

Move onto limericks and shape poems. I’ve even had high schoolers thrilled to write shape poems and they came up with the neatest pieces.

Black-out poetry is so fun too as students take a piece of writing from literature and blackout various words using black sharpies. This can even be accomplished digitally on Google Slides of Canva. The words that are left form a poem. Students then can even illustrate the poems on the same paper. Some of my students have created a picture out of the words left. Creativity knows no bounds with poetry. 

As students conquer the guidelines of various poems such as the 5, 7, and 5 syllable rule of haikus, let them venture onto more challenging free verse. For instance, students can write a poem about anything they’d like but it must have at least 10 lines and be rhymed. By giving guidelines, some students are challenged to write more and explore their capabilities. As students conquer 10-line poems, then move on to reading ballads and challenging students to write a 20-line poem about a story. By starting small and moving onto more rigorous guidelines, students will be surprised as their poetry skills expand. 

5. Poetry Jam

I have hosted a couple of classroom poetry jams in my day and it’s always so fun. Students work hard on a poem or two. We gather around as they read their poem aloud on a stool. We have hot cocoa, or when I taught high school, coffee. I lower the lights and put on a cozy background ambiance on the projector. I especially love the Spring in Paris Outdoor Coffee Shop ambiance on Youtube.

We snap our fingers instead of clapping, and we tell each student something we loved about their poem. 

Poetry jams are the culmination of all of their hard work and can come at the end of a poetry unit. It’s inspiring for students to hear their peer’s poems and it’s so life-giving to have fun while reading and reciting our own written work. 

6. Poem in My Pocket Day

Poem in My Pocket Day is April 27th this year. It is such a neat concept! This day officially began in April 2002 by the Office of the NYC Mayor, in conjunction with the Department of Cultural Affairs and Education. It first began as a way to highlight the love of poetry during National Poetry Month. 

More information on this day can be found here:

Poem in Your Pocket Day

On this day, individuals pick a poem that means a lot to them, carry it in their pocket, and share it with others. Perhaps you can have your Poetry Jam take place on Poem in My Pocket Day and students can share their pocket poems as well. Encourage your students to participate in this unique day. Require them to carry a poem in their pocket and read it aloud to one other peer at school or one adult that day. 

It’s a unique way to celebrate poetry and feel like a unit of bards as the whole nation celebrates it. 

7. Slam Poetry

Slam Poetry is a form of poetry that has captivated my former middle and high school students.  This type of poetry is performance poetry. Students write poems and perform them with energy, emotion, and even audience participation. It is equal parts writing and drama. Once written, these poems are memorized like an actor memorizes lines and is performed like a one-man show. Slam Poetry also involves competition with thousands of Slam Poetry contests all over the world. 

Slam Poetry is written with the idea in mind that this will be performed. Special words are chosen that will elicit audience reaction. The spoken word and art of fluency is the focus. Slam Poetry can be serious or even garner laughs. 

Showing students various slam poetry examples can inspire them to write and perform their own. Perhaps, you could host a Poetry Slam Jam. 

Even elementary students can participate in writing and performing Slam Poetry. Students simply write a poem based on their passion, memorize it, practice it, and perform it. A student can write a poem about their love of horses, their favorite sport, or even their favorite pastime. The key is to have students write about something they’re passionate about. Slam Poetry is not only a creative outlet, but it also teaches so many standards in the process. 

Viewing slam poetry is the best way to get students motivated to write their own. Just a bit of warning: A lot of slam poetry online needs to be viewed first and is more appropriate for middle and high school students.

Some of my former middle schoolers especially liked this one about the various hard aspects of being a middle schooler. Slam poetry can be an excellent social/emotional outlet for students as they perform their emotions. 

8. Free Verse Novels

Another way to truly learn and appreciate poetry is to explore free-verse novels. These are books and stories written in a poem-form. My most reluctant readers especially fall in love with free-verse books. They are a tad easier to read and not as intimidating as there’s less words on a page. Free-verse books are some of the most moving stories I’ve ever read. Here are some of our favorites for elementary to middle school students.

Grab a couple to read today.

9. Poe-Tree

When I taught elementary school, I utilized a large paper tree on my wall to display students’ poems. In the middle, I wrote “Our Poe-Tree,” and placed their published poems on the branches and leaves. It was a great way to show off students’ writing. I also used it as a way to highlight interesting and funny poems I thought students would enjoy. I often found students gathering around it and reading the various poems during snack time. 

A “Poe-tree” can be used in the middle and high school classroom as well! Add some twinkle lights for ambiance and for a more grown-up look!

Here is an affordable tree decal for walls: 

Peel and Stick DIY Art Wallpaper


These nine ways to teach poetry will surely inspire your students to love reading and writing poems of their own. By utilizing poetry in the classroom, students can fall in love with another form of literature and enhance their writing skills in the process.

Author of Blog

5 Winter Picture Books to Teach Figurative Language

In college, my beloved Reading Methods professor read us picture books at the beginning of class. As twenty-something-old college students, we relished those five-ten minutes it took for her to read a book. We could relax, get lost in something other than student teaching hours, seminars, and projects, and just enjoy a good story. When she read us a picture book for the very first time, she asked, “Did you enjoy that?” Our response was, “Of course, we did!” She went on to say that if we, as grown adults, enjoy a picture book this much, then don’t discount it for older elementary students, middle schoolers, or even high schoolers. It was one of those ah-ha moments I’ve clearly held onto ever since. Today, we are going to dive into 5 winter pictures books to teach figurative language.

As a teacher who has taught all three levels of students: elementary, middle, and high school, her philosophy has proven true as I have used picture books quite often to teach concepts, as a brain break, and to ignite a love of reading and writing in students.

Picture Books as Mentor Text

Picture books are being used as mentor text more and more. Just because a book is written for younger students doesn’t mean the author didn’t devote hours to that piece of writing, perfecting every word, every character, and every storyline. Just because it’s geared toward younger students doesn’t mean that the writing isn’t amazing. Using picture books to teach students how to write is the beginning of students connecting authentic, real-world literature to their own writing.

When teaching writing, I love to teach figurative language, a concept explored in literature classes as we analyze stories and novels. Think about your favorite author and you probably don’t think about how many similes or metaphors they used; however, you do think about how descriptive their characters were or how they got the setting just right for you to imagine it clearly. Great authors use figurative language so smoothly that you don’t even realize it. Figurative language takes descriptive writing to the next level. It adds a creative flair to help readers understand the words and descriptions even more clearly. That’s a writing skill I hope my students can grasp.

The following picture books can be utilized as wonderful mentor text to teach figurative language. Plus, they’re based in winter, so it fits in nicely with the season, and if your students are writing a winter story, these books will be great inspiration.

1. Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen

A Caldecott Medal winner, this book breathes figurative language. It is in almost every sentence. This book paints such a lovely, timeless, still scene of winter. It is a soothing picture book that students will enjoy and glean a lot from on how to use figurative language.

Grab your copy today!

Publisher’s Synopsis: Late one winter night a little girl and her father go owling. The trees stand still as statues and the world is silent as a dream. Whoo-whoo-whoo, the father calls to the mysterious nighttime bird. But there is no answer.

Wordlessly the two companions walk along, for when you go owling you don’t need words. You don’t need anything but hope. Sometimes there isn’t an owl, but sometimes there is. Distinguished author Jane Yolen has created a gentle, poetic story that lovingly depicts the special companionship of a young child and her father as well as humankind’s close relationship to the natural world. Wonderfully complemented by John Schoenherr’s soft, exquisite watercolor illustrations, this is a verbal and visual treasure, perfect for reading around and sharing at bedtime.

Examples of figurative language:

Simile: The trees stood still as giant statues. / Somewhere behind us, a train whistle blew, long and low, like a sad, sad song. 

Personification: A farm dog answered the train, and then a second dog joined in. They sang out, trains and dogs, for a real long time. And when their voices faded away, it was as quiet as a dream.

Alliteration: Our feet crunched over the crisp snow./ He looked up searching the stars.

Metaphor: The moon made his face into a silver mask. 

These are just a couple of examples from Owl Moon. This book is a wellspring of figurative language. 

2. Snowflakes Fall, by Patricia MacLachlan

Snowflakes Fall is a wonderfully descriptive picture book all about the beauty of snow, the winter season, the children who enjoy it, and even the blessings found at the end of the winter season. Not only does this book contain a blizzard of figurative language, but the deep meaning and motivation behind this book are also inspiring. 

Grab your copy today!

Publisher’s Synopsis: In Snowflakes Fall, Newbery Medalist Patricia MacLachlan and award-winning artist Steven Kellogg portray life’s natural cycle: its beauty, its joy, and its sorrow. Together, the words and pictures offer the promise of renewal that can be found in our lives—snowflakes fall, and return again as raindrops so that flowers can grow.MacLachlan and Kellogg, who are longtime friends, were moved to collaborate on a message of hope for children and their families following the tragic events in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, on December 14, 2012. Kellogg lived in Sandy Hook for thirty-five years—he raised his family there and was an active member of the community. With Snowflakes Fall, they have created a truly inspiring picture book that is both a celebration of life and a tribute to the qualities that make each individual unique.

Examples of figurative language: 

Personification: Snowflakes fall to sit on gardens and evergreen trees. / Frantic, icy snowflakes scratch the window glass./ Branches fly and shadows darken dreams. 

Simile: Snowflakes fall, drift, and swirl together like the voices of children. 

Alliteration:On its loved library, And its familiar flagpole 

3. Bright Winter Night, by Alli Brydon

This adorable picture book has beautiful illustrations, incorporates the forest animals working together as a team, and has rhyming words. All of these elements will intrigue students, but it also has some great examples of figurative language. 

Grab your copy today!

Publisher’s Synopsis: The forest calls, and creatures come: big and small, one by one. They sense there is a task to do as night descends, replacing blue. On one bright winter night, a group of woodland creatures emerges from the forest. Despite their differences, they start to build something together, using items found on the forest floor. What are they making? And how quickly can they build it? Something special is happening tonight, and soon the animals are off—in a race to catch a glimpse of one of nature’s most astounding wonders! With lyrical text and sparkling artwork, Bright Winter Night is a celebration of the joy and beauty of nature and the special gift of friendship and togetherness.

Examples of figurative language:

Metaphor: The wolf pack launches with a start and races through the forest’s heart. 

Onomatopoeia: The sleigh careens, the rabbits jump as the rest go BUMP BUMP BUMP. 

Personification: The colors dazzle, glow, and blaze-the flashes sizzle, shock and amaze!/ The magic in the winter’s air drifts all around them, everywhere. 

4. The Snow Dancer, by Addie Boswell

Not only are the illustrations gorgeous in The Snow Dancer, but the word choice is the perfect example of descriptive writing. The figurative language is also amazingly abundant in this story. Additionally, if you wanted to choose one book to focus on onomatopoeia, this one is it! 

Grab your copy today!

Publisher’s Synopsis: Young dancer Sofia wakes up to a quiet, white world—it’s a snow day! She makes her way outside to the neighborhood park, where a field awaits her, white and shining and open. It isn’t long before the rest of the neighborhood wakes its sleepy head—and the other kids make their way to the park, scattering all of Sofia’s beautiful silence. But with the help of a new young friend, Sofia is ready to show everyone what a snow dancer can do on a perfect day like this. With lyrical language and gorgeous art, this book sparkles with all the joy and beauty of a snow day.

Examples of figurative language: 

Personification: All through the night, they fell-frosting the rooftops, fluffing the sidewalks, laying fuzzy hats on the fire hydrants. 

Alliteration: She sniffed the cold, clean air. 

Onomatopoeia: Whooomph! She fell down the hidden steps./ Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. She hopscotched down the invisible sidewalk.  (There are so many more examples of Onomatopoeia!)

Simile: The sun shone like a giant spotlight. The soccer field gleamed like a giant stage. /Outside the world sparkled and glistened. 

5. Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter, by Kenard Pak

I love this series of books. Kenard Pak has a picture book that says goodbye to every season and hello to another. These straightforward books with gorgeous illustrations use personification for the entirety of the story, as parts of the season speak as if they are animate. Not only is there a plethora of personification examples, but the author uses other figurative language examples as well. 

Grab your copy today!

Publisher’s Synopsis: As leaves fall from their trees, animals huddle against the cold, and frost creeps across windows, everyone knows―winter is on its way! Join a brother and sister as they explore nature and take a stroll through their twinkling town, greeting all the signs of the coming season. In a series of conversations with everything from the setting sun to curious deer, they say goodbye to autumn and welcome the glorious first snow of winter in Kenar Pak’s Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter.

Examples of figurative language: 

Alliteration: Autumn afternoon/Setting sun/wispy winds/…Swept into the sky

Personification: Now that the wispy winds have come, we fall from the oak tree branches and are swept into the sky! (Leaves)/ Our pine-needle branches shiver in the wind while you sleep. (There are many examples of personification!)

Metaphor: Hello, snowflakes. Hello. We fall in a white, misty curtain and muffle all the sounds around you. 

Simile: Hello, clouds. Hello. We cover the sky like a downy, soft blanket. 


To further practice identifying and writing figurative language, check out this FREE Picture Book Figurative Language Activity we have!

Grab yours today!

We also have Figurative Language Posters available in our store as well!

Click here to grab yours today!


Using winter picture books as mentor text to teach figurative language is a great way to provide authentic examples for students. Picture books can be utilized for any grade level as a way for students to see real writing examples that have figurative language and to practice identifying figurative language. Also, winter picture books bring just the right coziness that makes reading so fun and delightful. 

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