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Lesson Plan

Building Classroom Community Through the Exploration of Acrostic Poetry

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 45- to 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Sarah Dennis-Shaw

Avon, Massachusetts


International Literacy Association


Student Objectives

Session 1: Exploring acrostic poetry

Session 2: Brainstorming

Session 3: Publishing and sharing


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • Learn the structure of acrostic poetry by viewing examples on the Internet

  • Understand and apply knowledge of acrostic poetry by composing an acrostic poem about one of their classmates

  • Build community in the classroom by focusing on peers' positive character traits and applying them to poetry

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Session 1: Exploring acrostic poetry

1. Lead a brief discussion with students about poetry and why authors choose to write poems (e.g., poetry is a creative way to express feeling; poetry is an art form). Introduce the term acrostic poetry to students and explain that an acrostic poem is one that uses the letters in a word or topic to begin each line of the poem. All of the words or phrases in the poem relate to the topic word.

2. Share the examples of acrostic poetry that you have selected. Ask students to comment on what they notice about the poems and record their thoughts on the board or on chart paper. Some thoughts might include

  • Each line starts with a letter of the word

  • The lines are short usually just a word or phrase

  • Each line relates to the topic

  • The topic word is usually in capital letters

  • The poem does not have to rhyme

3. Pass out the Acrostic Poetry Web Explorer worksheet and review it with students. Allow students to explore examples of acrostic poetry online, using this sheet as their guide. You may have students fill out the sheet and hand it in. You may also choose to use an LCD monitor to view the websites together as a class; if you do this, you may want to write the questions from the sheet on chart paper or on the board and fill them out together.

4. Bring the class together for a shared writing experience. Choose another teacher or school official all your students know as the subject of an acrostic poem written together as a class. Using a transparency of the Brainstorming Template, write each letter of the person's name down the left column of the template. (You might share a sample of a filled-out template with students first.)

5. Work with students to brainstorm positive character traits about the person for each letter of his or her name. (See sample for examples.)

6. After you have three to five words for each letter of the name, work with students to compose an acrostic poem. Model adding phrases and connecting verbs to the word lists.

7. Have a student volunteer write a final copy of the poem (other students may wish to illustrate it as well). The class can then share it with the poem's subject.

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Session 2: Brainstorming

1. Review the process for writing an acrostic poem based on the activities in Session 1. Explain to students that they are going to write acrostic poems for each other. Pass out the Student Checklist and review expectations and guidelines.

2. Lead a brief discussion about why it would be important and thoughtful to write an acrostic poem about a classmate. Talk about how it makes people feel good, it shows respect, and it is a creative way to express friendship.

3. Talk to students about how the use of thoughtful, descriptive words makes acrostic poems more effective and interesting to read. Explain that they will brainstorm positive character traits about another student in the class and then write an acrostic poem about that person.

4. Pass out copies of the Brainstorming Template and ask each student to write his or her name down the left column with one letter in each box.

5. Randomly distribute the templates to students so that each student ends up with someone else's name.

6. Allow students to access one of the major online thesauri:

Demonstrate how to use the online thesaurus by typing in the word nice and viewing all of the descriptive words that are synonymous for it. Ask students to use the Brainstorming Template to come up with several words for each letter of the person's name. You may also want to have print thesauri available for students to use. (A sample list of character traits is available if you don't have access to multiple computers or print thesauri.)

7. After students have had sufficient time to brainstorm, ask them to look over their list and compose a rough draft of their acrostic poem. They should keep the checklists and rough drafts for Session 3.

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Session 3: Publishing and sharing

1. Have students take out their Student Checklist as well as their drafts from Session 2. Review the guidelines and expectations on the Student Checklist and explain that they should use their checklist to make sure that they have all the necessary elements in their acrostic poem.

2. Give students time to revise their poems as necessary.

3. Set students up on computers with the Acrostic Poems writing tool. Guide them through the process of typing a final draft of their poem into the tool and have them print their poems.

4. Allow students to share their poems aloud and present them to their classmates. Students should turn in their completed checklist and a copy of their poem.

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  • Students can illustrate their acrostic poems and laminate them as a keepsake.

  • Students can write acrostic poems about story characters or their favorite setting in a story.

  • Students can write acrostic poems for science or social studies topics to demonstrate their knowledge.

  • Advanced students can test their knowledge of nouns, adjectives, and gerunds by rewriting their acrostic poem as a synonym Diamante Poem.

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  • Use informal observation to assess whether students participate and demonstrate understanding of the acrostic poetry format. If you collected the Acrostic Poetry Web Explorer worksheet, you can use this to assess student comprehension as well.

  • Use the Student Checklist to assess final copies of the poems. In addition, look at student vocabulary in the completed poems. Did students use the reference materials you provided to find original and creative words? Are the words applied correctly? Do the poems accurately and creatively describe the person being written about?

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