Sunday, 8 April 2012

Personification Poetry about Nature!

One of my favourite writing activities is personification poetry. This is the second year I have done this lesson with my students and it is always a huge success. I first want to give you a few examples of their poems and then tell you how I go about facilitating the lesson.

by Halanna & Mackenzie

I am snow.
I waltz in the air landing on
the white ground. 
I sometimes rest on flaky trees. 
I paint the leaves on 
my way down to the coated earth. 
I am snow!

I am a Volcano
by Shinae & Advik

I am a volcano,
Roaring loudly as I spew
over the land. 
I pounce on the hard rocks 
as I skip and tease them. 
I melt the rough bark
of the tree. 
It's been a long day.
I'd better go to sleep. 
I am a volcano.

I am the Stars
 by Anisha

I am the stars
shining bright in the night. 
 I paint the black sky making
children smile. 
I sleep in the day and awake
when the sun says goodbye. 
I try with all my might to stay 
awake at night. 
I am the stars.

I am Storm
by Daniel & Marc

I am storm. 
Tickling the shuttering alders, 
I touch the solid ground,
Pouncing on the muddy dirt. 

I work on smashing
the scared pine trees, 
and scream at the wet people.
I dance around the slippery

After I get tired,
I go to sleep.
I am storm. 

I am a Flower
by Madeline & Jacob

I am a flower.
I embrace the fireball
sun into a deep relaxing sleep.
I dance for the big moon
to calm it down. 
I cry when nice people are not around me.
I love to drink good water.
The wiggly worm tickles my roots,
I am happy when the buzzing bee comes to
take my pollen.
I am a flower.

I am the Wind
by Jillian & Annika

I am the wind,
I steal every
chilly leaf off
the ground. 
I whisper softly
through the air 
as I swiftly pass by the 
little children. 
I touch the girl's and boy's warm faces as 
I slowly pass by.
When I dive down into the green grass
I get weak and fall asleep.
I am the wind!

In this lesson, we focus on personification and word choice. I begin by introducing personification using examples in poetry. There are many different poems you can use and find on the Internet. I give a few examples of sentences like, The wind played tag with the clouds or  The sun kissed my face.  We talk about how the author is describing something in an unusual way. I explain that personifications are sentences where non-human things or ideas are given human characteristics. When students have an idea of what personification is and it's purpose, we start our poems. 

Part 1 - Brainstorming
1. I write the word rain on the board and start to model writing down verbs that could personify rain. For example: paint, race, slap, stomp, greet, sing, slide. 
2. Then, I come up with a sentence using one of these verbs. The rain raced down from the sky and greeted the dirt.  
3. Next, I have the students partner up and choose a topic about nature. I have big 11x14 pieces of paper with one word written in the middle. My options for the students are: sun, wind, moon, star, tornado, volcano, flowers, trees and storm. Each group must choose a different topic. 
4. Then, I read out a list of action verbs and have students decided whether or not the verb fits their topic. It if does, they write it on their paper to create a brainstorming web. 
Here are a few of the verbs I read: (I am sure you can think of more)
dance, paint, sing, stomp, clap, race, fall, sleep, whisper, scream, cry, tickle, drink, touch, embrace, pounce, speak, giggle, laugh, chuckle, steal, run, hop, jump, waltz, boogie, jive, kiss, hug, play 
5. When the students are finished deciding which verbs best fit their topic, they write a personification sentences using one of their verbs. 

Part 2 - Writing the Poem
6. The next day we review personifications. Then, I go back to my web of verbs for rain. I model writing a poem using the verbs. I am very conscious of talking out loud while I write so the students can hear what I am thinking. Here is usually what I come up with: 

I am rain,
Racing down to the earth. 
I slap the ground,
Greeting the dirt.
I paint the leaves of the trees.
I slide down the bark. 
I am rain.   

7. Next, I talk to the students about revising and adding adjectives and adverbs. They are already very familiar with this. I underline the nouns like earth, ground, dirt, trees and bark. Then I add interesting words and change a few things to add more detail. I model using a thesaurus and usually ask for their input at this time.

I am rain,
Racing down to the parched earth. 
I slap the hard ground,
Greeting the dirt with a smile.
I paint the leaves of the young poplars.
Then, I slide down the brown bark,
Weaving in and out of it's grooves. 
I am rain. 

8. The students are asked to write their own poems and follow the same process.  We all start and end our poems with I am...
9. When they have written their rough draft, revised and then edited, I get all the students to write their own good copy and illustrate and individually illustrate their poem.

The challenge for students is the punctuation and knowing when to go to the next line. I briefly talk to students about this, but that part doesn't always come through. The important part is the ideas and word choice.

If you give this a try, I'd love to hear how it turns out. 


  1. This is a great lesson! Our class has been reading lots of poetry but we haven't written any formal-ish poems yet. I'm going to give this a try. I really like how you set the lesson up and scaffold it for the kids: their poems are wonderful! Do you make them into a class book?
    Thank you for your comment on my blog!

  2. ps How do I follow your blog?

  3. This is an excellent lesson! Very effective in helping children find the "personal" in the natural world! Thank you for posting this!

  4. Keri, I usually compile poems that we do throughout our poetry unit and put it into a class book. I like to give my students their originals and keep those in their writing portfolios.
    I also added a widget so that people can follow this blog.
    Thanks for stopping by and visiting, Keri and Janet!

  5. Wow! You helped me so much Thanks! I owe you one! :DD

  6. Have been searching all evening for something like this, your lesson plan makes sense and the example poems are great, going to try this first week back after half term with my year 6 class. Thank you

  7. Such a GREAT lesson!! I wish I could find a lesson like this in all language features.. wish you all the best in your teaching