Five Poetry Lesson Plans Inspired by Music & Sound

Are you a music teacher interested in bringing poetry into your classroom? A language arts instructor who'd like to use pop songs to get students excited about writing? A parent or mentor who wants to inspire a particular youth who loves to make beats, play guitar AND scribble poetry? These five elementary, junior high, and high school lesson plans pair creative writing exercises with music and sound, and are sure to inspire playful, thought-provoking, and multimodal learning!

Whale Song Acrostic (Elementary)

A whale's tail rises above blue water

In Elizabeth Falcón's lesson plan, students are asked to listen to a humpback whale's song and then write a poem that translates the words they believe the whale is singing. This one-hour lesson allows students to practice active listening and brainstorming, and introduces them to a new kind of poem, the acrostic. 


Rain Songs (Elementary)

A hand holds a red umbrella on a city street in the rainStudents collaborate on a rain song, read Kazim Ali's "Rain", and write chant poems in this playful lesson plan by Saraiya Kanning, which emphasizes rhythm, repetition, and description. 



Up Above My Head I Hear Music: Using the Form of Blues Songs to Make Poems (Elementary) 

Sister Rosetta Tharpe plays guitar on stageIn this lesson plan, Lisa M. O'Neill talks about the blues song as a form and asks students to write poems inspired by Sister Rosetta Tharpe's "Up Above My Head." This lesson encourages students to experiment with metaphor, repetition, and imagery. 


Baby You're a Firework: Making Meaning Through Metaphor (& Simile) in Songwriting (Junior High)

Fireworks artistically explode from Katy Perry's chestLisa O'Neill's lesson plan, originally developed for a music class, uses popular songs--including Katy Perry's "Firework"--to talk about the importance of metaphor and simile in songwriting. Students discuss song structure, write collaboratively and individually, and come up with original lyrics. 


Finding Inspiration in Sound (High School)

An outside air conditioning unit against a white brick wallStudents observe sounds in the world around them--from a car starting to the hum of an AC unit--in this lesson plan by Saraiya Kanning. They then use those observations to write collaborative, haiku-inspired poems before writing individual poems inspired by curated sound clips. This lesson plan encourages observation and asks students to utilize sparse, carefully-chosen language and similes.