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Lesson Plan

What Makes Poetry? Exploring Line Breaks

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What Makes Poetry? Exploring Line Breaks

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Minilesson
Estimated Time 40 minutes
Lesson Author

Julie Wollman, Ph.D.

Julie Wollman, Ph.D.

Worcester, Massachusetts


National Council of Teachers of English


Materials and Technology

Student Interactives





  • "Bubbles" poem (see Three Poems resource) written on chart paper, or use the copy in the Line Break Explorer. A PowerPoint copy of the "Bubbles" poem and related discussion questions is also available.

  • Copies for each student of two poems (see Three Poems resource): "Ninjas" and "Daughter, Mother, Daughter." (Or select similar poems from books of poetry, such as those listed below; or include poems you have written to model your literacy for students.)

  • Suggested poetry books:

    • In for Winter, Out for Spring by Arnold Adoff (Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1991)
      This book of poems is particularly playful with respect to line breaks.

    • Honey, I Love and Other Love Poems by Eloise Greenfield (HarperTrophy, 1986)

    • Good Books, Good Times by Lee Bennett Hopkins (Harper Collins, 1990)

    • The Tamarindo Puppy and Other Poems by Charlotte Pomerantz (Greenwillow, 1980)
      Poems in English and Spanish celebrate the joy of playing with sound and rhythm.

  • Chart paper or board space for writing ideas.

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Line Break Explorer

Grades   3 – 8  |  Student Interactive  |  Writing Poetry

Line Break Explorer

The interactive explores the ways that poets choose line breaks in their writing. After viewing the demonstration, students are invited to experiment with line breaks themselves.


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  • Gather resources, deciding which poems you will use and making the necessary copies.

  • Copy the poem "Bubbles" on chart paper.

  • This lesson assumes some prior exposure to poetry. The books in the Materials and Technology section can be used to broaden students' experiences with poetry before starting this lesson.

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