Peace Poems and Picasso Doves: Literature, Art, Technology, and Poetry

3 - 5
Lesson Plan Type
Estimated Time
Nine and a half hours, plus publishing time
  • Preview
  • |
  • Standards
  • |
  • Resources & Preparation
  • |
  • Instructional Plan
  • |
  • Related Resources
  • |
  • Comments


This lesson supports third- through fifth-grade students as they apply think-aloud strategies to reading, as well as to the composition of artwork and poetry. Activities include collaborative as well as individual work. Technology tools are integrated as students research symbols of peace and as they prewrite, compose, and publish their poetry.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

  • The think-aloud technique (e.g., questioning, accessing prior knowledge, and making inferences or predictions) helps students recognize the strategies they are using to understand a text.
  • Teachers can use students' personal reactions to a text as a basis for writing assignments that extend understanding through critical and creative thinking.
  • The goal of prewriting is to rehearse or try out a quantity of ideas. Therefore, using technology for prewriting activities makes sense because students using word processors write more than students using pen and paper.
  • Technology can engage learners in an interactive and motivating manner that enhances poetry writing.

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.

Materials and Technology

  • Somewhere Today: A Book of Peace by Shelly Moore Thomas (Whitman, 2002)
  • Peace Begins with You by Katherine Sholes (Sierra Club/Little Brown, 1989/90)
  • The Big Book for Peace edited by Ann Durrel and Marilyn Sachs (Dutton, 1990)
  • An Angel for Solomon Singer by Cynthia Rylant (Orchard, 1992)
  • Smoky Night by Eve Bunting (Harcourt Brace, 1994)
  • Peace Dove Poems PowerPoint presentation




1. Collaborate with a librarian, a computer specialist, and an art teacher to organize instruction, gather resources, and review websites.
2. Plan for small and whole group lessons, Internet access, computer workstation access (for the writing process), and art materials.
3. Using the Graphic Organizer worksheet as a model, make one class-size chart on butcher paper (or two charts if you are working with another educator). This chart will be used to record questions, plot summary, and the main idea and personal responses when reading An Angel for Solomon Singer.
4. Review the sample Peace Poem Template, which can be used or modified to help struggling writers.
5. Review the sample Rubric for Peace Dove Poem or develop your own to evaluate the whole-class and individual poems. The rubric should be based on four of the six traits from the 6+1 Trait® Writing framework. As sentence fluency is difficult to assess in free verse poetry and conventions are not as critical for this genre, the rubric should include an evaluation of word choice, voice, ideas (related to peace), and organization. A scoring guide and additional information can be found on the website, 6+1 Trait® Writing.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • Practice think-aloud strategies when reading literature
  • Apply think-aloud strategies when listening to poetry and viewing art
  • Compile questions and personal responses to literature using a graphic organizer
  • Study the symbol of the dove via the Internet and re-envision Picasso's dove in their own artwork
  • Brainstorm and compose a shared classroom poem about peace
  • Use technology tools in the prewriting, composition, revision, and publication stages of the writing process
  • Compose individual poems inspired by their own artwork

Instruction and Activities


Introduce this unit of study by reading Somewhere Today: A Book of Peace, Peace Begins with You, or a selection from The Big Book for Peace. Ask students to share their personal responses to the reading with partners or with the whole class. Pose the questions:

What do individuals do to find peace?

What do communities do to create peace?

What are some symbols for peace?

Large group think-aloud modeling (95 minutes)

1. Collaborate with the librarian for this session. Half of the class will remain with you in the classroom, while the other half gathers in the library with the librarian. Prepare each group of students for a read aloud of An Angel for Solomon Singer by posing the question, "How does Solomon Singer find peace?" The two groups complete steps 2 and 3 separately.
2. As students read aloud, model how think-aloud strategies can be used to access meaning in the text. Think-aloud strategies include making connections, visualizing, predicting, summarizing, and finding main ideas. Stop periodically throughout the reading to ask students to predict the next scene, to visualize a powerful scene, to make personal connections, or to make connections to other texts.
3. During the reading, ask students to use the Graphic Organizer worksheet to record their questions. After reading, students summarize the plot using a bulleted list and compose a one-sentence main idea for the story. Students may want to offer their personal responses when the reading is in progress or wait until after the reading has been completed. If students' questions are answered during or after the reading, tell them to record the answers on the graphic organizer and circle all unanswered questions before joining the other group.
4. Bring students from both groups together to compare their graphic organizers. A member from each group should begin by reading their group's summary of the story. Did the groups choose different parts of the story to include in the summary? Next, look at the questions each group generated. Are any of the questions the same? Are any questions different? Can anyone in the class offer answers to questions that are still unanswered? (It is appropriate to leave questions unanswered at this time. Students may suggest answers later in the unit of study.) Compare the main idea and personal responses. What is the same and different between the two groups?
5. Ask students to circle words or phrases on the graphic organizer, which create vivid mental images for them. These words and phrases serve to generate possibilities for the whole-class peace web and poem.
6. Building on the shared book experience, generate a web of words and phrases related to the idea of achieving individual peace. Record ideas shared by the group on large butcher paper. This whole-class peace web provides a visual record of the discussion and gives you the opportunity to ask students to elaborate on specific ideas or feelings. Words for the web might include home, love, food, friends, and heart.
7. Choose a poetic device, such as alliteration, and add adjectives and sensory words to the web to teach that device. For example, to teach alliteration, focus on the word peace and add words like personal, powerful, perfect, and pleasing. Or for the word fireplace, add words and phrases such as warm, welcoming, and cuddling a calico. Display this web in your classroom.
8. Using the peace web, compose a class poem about an individual finding peace (see sample peace web and poem).
9. Use the sample Rubric for Peace Dove Poem or a rubric that you prepared to evaluate the class poem. As students become more experienced with rubrics, developing the rubric together as a class can be most effective.

Small group reading and think-aloud practice (120 minutes)

1. Review the think-aloud strategies that were used for large group think-aloud modeling.
2. Gather students in small groups to read Smoky Night and ask them to compile questions and personal responses as they read aloud with their group. Pose the question, "How does this community find peace?" Students should be reminded to use think-aloud strategies when reading, which include making connections, visualizing, predicting, summarizing, and finding main ideas. Monitor students' practice of the think-aloud strategies using the Think-Aloud Monitoring Sheet.
3. When the group has finished reading and recording their questions and personal responses, students should collaborate to write a bulleted plot summary and a one-sentence main idea on their graphic organizer.
4. Merge two or three small groups to share and compare their graphic organizers.
5. After sharing in small groups, students will have generated many ideas about communities finding peace. Pose the question again, "What do communities do to find peace?" Record students' ideas and phrases on a web and display the web in the classroom, alongside the web related to individual peace.

Research and reporting (120 minutes)

1. As a whole class, brainstorm some symbols for peace. Use a KWL chart to list what students know about these symbols and what they want to find out.
2. Follow the same process to discuss poetic forms (e.g., free verse, cinquain, haiku) and poetic devices (rhythm, rhyme, simile, metaphor, alliteration).
3. Divide the class into partners or small groups and ask them to select a particular peace symbol, poetic form, or poetic device to research on the Internet. To keep track of students' selections, post a sign-up sheet next to the computer workstation. Students can use the following Web resources for their research:
  • Poetic Forms and Terms. This website addresses poetic forms and terms, written for students.
  • Glossary of Poetic Devices. This is a glossary of some of the more common poetic devices.
  • KidzSearch. This search engine has preselected websites that are appropriate for elementary students.
4. Ask student partners or groups to create an illustration of their peace symbol, or give an example of their poetic form or devices and then present their drawings and examples to the whole class.
5. Display students' illustrations and examples in the classroom, along with supplements prepared by you that address the peace symbols, poetic forms, and poetic devices not selected by students.

Picasso dove study and composition (60 minutes)

1. Display Picasso's dove prints for the class: Dove of Peace and Dove with Flowers. Apply think-aloud techniques when viewing the art (e.g., questions, connections, and personal responses).
2. Create peace doves in the manner of Picasso on white construction paper with black and colored markers or crayons. Display students' illustrations in the classroom.

Poetry composition (95 to 120 minutes)

1. The goal of this lesson is for students to compose poems about peace. Have students work in pairs to generate a prewriting web. They can use the class webs for An Angel for Solomon Singer and Smoky Night for support. Their poems may focus on individual or community peace.
2. Students should decide on a theme for the poem and place that word or phrase in the middle of the web. Students should then think about ideas related to their theme, by asking themselves who, what, where, when, why, and how. They should add descriptive, sensory words to the web that create vivid images that relate to their theme. They can also add words or phrases related to the poetic devices they have learned, such as alliteration, simile, or metaphor. Technology tools such as Kidspiration or Excel can be used to support this prewriting activity, or students can construct their webs on butcher paper as was done with the whole class.
3. Ask partners to review the poetic forms and devices displayed around the classroom and then compose their own poem about individual or community peace. (Samples of student poems are included in a PowerPoint presentation called Peace Dove Poems.) You might suggest that students use the Diamante Poems or Acrostic Poems tools to format their peace poems.
4. For students who need more support, have them use the Peace Poem Template to organize their thoughts. Remind students that a template provides a "plan," not a final product. They will need to follow the directions on the template form, and then revise their writing based on the Rubric for Peace Dove Poem.
5. After writing their poems, students should illustrate them using peace doves, another symbol for peace, or other representational artwork.
6. Students self-assess their poem using the rubric and by writing a narrative assessment of their artwork including its connection to the poem.

Publishing (time varies)

1. Assist students in publishing their poems and artwork.
  • Create a pathfinder to assist students as they scan their artwork. (If you have a computer technician on site, ask him or her to facilitate this process.) Scan each drawing and save all drawings in a folder. Have each student key his or her poem using a simple 12-point font. Save all poems in one file. Follow the instructions on the PowerPoint Pathfinder sheet.
  • Classrooms without these technology tools can make a paper book of their peace poems and artwork.
2. Give each student the opportunity to present their published poem and artwork to the class. During each presentation, ask the class to respond to the poem and artwork by using the think-aloud techniques (i.e., questions, connections, and personal responses).


  • Students share their poetry and artwork with another class in the school, with their parents, or with the community. Consider organizing a poetry reading, creating a poetry/art gallery in the school, or publishing poems on the Web.
  • Another option is to find a classroom in another part of the country or world that is also studying peace. Post a message to ePals. When you receive a response, collaborate with the teacher and have students from each class share their poems and artwork electronically.

Student Assessment / Reflections

  • Assess students' engagement in the large group or small group discussion by noting the student's name or initials beside each entry that they contribute to the graphic organizer. This approach can be used when students create their prewriting webs as well. Periodically stop and ask students to count their contributions. Students who become accustomed to this procedure will begin to monitor their contributions on their own.
  • Use the Think-Aloud Monitoring Sheet to assess students' use and understanding of the think-aloud strategies. Use the sheet to record comments made by each student and rate his or her understanding of each reading strategy with a plus, check, or minus. As part of this assessment, remind students that they are being monitored for their use and understanding of the reading strategies.
  • The Graphic Organizer worksheet makes it relatively easy for students and teachers to assess students' engagement in the task of recording summaries, questions, and responses including main ideas to the literature. Using the class organizer as a guide, establish criteria for an exceptional, good, adequate, or incomplete organizer.
  • Students' illustrations of peace symbols, or examples of poetic forms and devices should clearly communicate their learning in such a way that other students in the class can learn from them as well. Establish criteria for this assignment using the Rubric for Peace Dove Poem as a model.
  • The Rubric for Peace Dove Poem can also be used by students to self-assess their work. The most powerful use of the rubric is to encourage students to correct any areas of weakness in their work BEFORE turning in their final poems to you.
  • A reflection log can be kept throughout the unit of study. Periodically ask students to stop and record their progress, process, questions, frustrations, and discoveries in their log. A final reflection can be an entry in the log or a separate activity. In the final reflection, students share their overall experience of the learning process, their relative success in working with their classmates, and their degree of satisfaction with the final products—in this case, their peace dove artwork and peace poem.

Add new comment