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Lesson Plan

What Am I? Teaching Poetry through Riddles

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What Am I? Teaching Poetry through Riddles

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Two 30-minute and two 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

John Paul Walter

John Paul Walter

Washington, Washington DC


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



Good riddles rely upon creative use of metaphor, simile, and metonymy; concrete imagery; and imaginative presentation and description of an object or concept. Because they are games, riddles are an excellent vehicle for introducing students to poetry and poetry writing. Students begin their exploration of riddle poems by reading sample riddle poems and guessing the answers. They then analyze the riddle poems to find the techniques used in the poems and to define what makes a good riddle poem. Students then write a riddle poem together as a class and conclude by writing riddles poems individually and sharing them with the class.

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Writing Riddle Poems: This student interactive uses a think-aloud process to walk students through all the stages of writing a riddle poem, from brainstorming through draft.

Exploring Riddle Poem Techniques: This sample analysis of a riddle poem will help students in analyzing riddle poems on their own.

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Because riddle poems are games as well as poems, they provide an easy and fun way to introduce students to poetry and poetic technique. Moreover, as riddle poems are usually about mundane, concrete objects, they provide an opportunity to write in a poetic genre that avoids getting bogged down in the normal student poetry-writing angst: the belief that poems must be about grand ideas, use grandiose phrases, and make use of end-rhyme.

Further Reading

Steinbergh, Judith W. "Mastering Metaphor through Poetry." Language Arts 76.4 (March 1999): 324-331.

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