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Lesson Plan

Composing Cinquain Poems with Basic Parts of Speech

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Composing Cinquain Poems with Basic Parts of Speech

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Two 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Traci Gardner

Traci Gardner

Blacksburg, Virginia


National Council of Teachers of English


Student Objectives

Session One: Learning about Cinquain

Session Two: Writing Cinquain


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • describe the basic conventions of cinquain.

  • interpret examples of cinquain.

  • characterize the relationship between structure and meaning in cinquain.

  • compose a cinquain that describes a familiar person, place, or thing.

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Session One: Learning about Cinquain

  1. Share examples of cinquain with your students. You might compose your own examples or compose examples with your students, before students write individually or in small groups. A student reproducible of sample cinquains is also available.

  2. You or the students might read the poems aloud. Try reading some of the cinquain more than once to show how different words can be emphasized and to talk about line breaks. See "Joyful Noises: Creating Poems for Voices and Ears" for more information on reading poetry aloud.

  3. Invite them to look for similarities and patterns among the cinquain that you read as a group. To help students notice the patterns, write several of the poems on the board or on a handout with similar lines parallel (all first lines parallel, all second lines parallel, and so on).

  4. Students should be able to extract the basic elements of these poems. You might lead students through the exploration process by asking them to think aloud about these questions:
  • How many lines do these poems have?

  • What do you notice about the words on the first line? (second, third, etc.)

  • Which words seem most important to each poem, and why?

  • How do the lines relate to each other?

  • How does the structure (the organization of the lines) relate to the meaning? If you rearrange the words, how does the meaning change?

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Session Two: Writing Cinquain

  1. Students will likely recognize most of the characteristics of the cinquain. To make the form more manageable for students as they write their own cinquain, modify and revise their list of characteristics to follow this organization:

    • Line 1: a one-word title, a noun that tells what the poem is about

    • Line 2: two adjectives describing the title

    • Line 3: three -ing action verbs

    • Line 4: a related phrase

    • Line 5: a synonym for the title

    Here's an example:


    Gentle, shaggy

    ambling, rambling, shambling

    a rollicking hayrick of unruly hair


  2. Once you and your students establish the characteristics of a cinquain, students can use the Student Reproducible Cinquain Graphic Organizer to compose original poems of their own. Students can work individually, with partners, or in small groups. Once students have finished their poems, the cinquains can be shared with the entire class.

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  • Make stapleless books out of the cinquain.

  • Illustrate the cinquain on a sheet of paper with colored pencils or fine-line markers.

  • Write other types of poetry such as haiku and sestina.

  • Create a bulletin board or school Website anthology of your cinquain.

  • Explore other forms of poetry with your students using the ReadWriteThink lesson Seasonal Haiku
    or the lesson suggestions from Sharing Poetry With Children.
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    While students work, use kidwatching techniques to observe and monitor students' progress.

    • Once the activity is complete, provide verbal feedback as individuals or groups share their work with the class. Commentary might focus on the students' feelings about the person, place , or thing described in the cinquain (e.g., "Your poem suggests that you really love your dog. Was it hard to choose just what to say in just five lines?), particularly interesting word choice (e.g., "You choose the word ornery to describe your dog. That's a word that means 'stubborn or cranky.' Can you tell me something ornery that your dog has done recently?"), and your own reaction or connection to the poems (e.g., "Your poem reminds me of my first dog, Taffi. Especially when you say that your dog is "a playful bundle of trouble." That's a good description of a puppy.")

    • After students have shared their cinquain with the class, students could reflect on their own and their classmates's poems.

    • Students could discuss their reactions out loud or use the Cinquain Reflections Worksheet to record their thoughts.

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