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Lesson Plan

Writing Poetry with Rebus and Rhyme

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Writing Poetry with Rebus and Rhyme

Grades K – 2
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Four 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Devon Hamner

Devon Hamner

Grand Island, Nebraska


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



If you've ever drawn a heart for the word "love," you've written a rebus. Rebus, writing which substitutes images for words in the text, is used by authors to write books for young readers able to identify only a limited number of words, so why not use this same technique to teach writing?

Students are first introduced to a variety of books using rebus writing. They then brainstorm lists of rhyming words that they could use in their own rebus poems. Finally, students create their own rebus poems and share them with an audience. This lesson uses Jean Marzollo's book I Love You: A Rebus Poem as a model for using rebus writing to create wonderful poetry; however, any of the rebus books included on the accompanying book list would be appropriate for this activity. This makes a wonderful Valentine activity, although it is certainly not limited to that holiday.

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  • Rhyming Picture Cards: These printable cards can be used for a variety of picture-rhyming activities. Included are nine rhyming words sets.
  • Rebus Book List: This sheet provides a list of rebus books that can be used as models before students create their own rebus poetry or stories.

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Rebus books have long been used by teachers and parents to help young children learn to read. Rebus books substitute pictures for the harder words that young students cannot yet identify or decode. Many children are also familiar with electronic interactive play-a-sound books that allow them to match and touch the rebus pictures and hear the characters speak, laugh, or make sounds.

In this lesson, students use rebus writing to create their own poetry by drawing pictures of the words they need to complete a rhyming pattern. Karen daSilva explains, "Crayons and markers are such important tools in [students'] literacy. Children read pictures to understand, they make pictures to tell what they mean." This connection is strengthened in rebus poems, which specifically connect drawing and writing. As daSilva continues, "When drawing is part of the writing and reading process, it can help give ideas for writing and teach skills of observation, skills that encourage reading the world and reading the image" (p. 2).

Further Reading

daSilva, Karen Ernst. "Drawing on Experience: Connecting Art and Language." Primary Voices 10.2 (October 2001): 2-8.

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