Concrete Poem (Calligram or shape poetry) Lesson Plan for Key Stage 2
Year 3 Strand 9 – Creating and Shaping Texts
• Select and use a range of technical and descriptive vocabulary
• Write non-narrative texts using structures of different text types
Year 4 Strand 9 – Creating and Shaping Texts
• Show imagination through the language used to create emphasis, humour, atmosphere or suspense
• Choose and combine words, images and other features for particular effects
Year 5 Strand 9 – Creating and Shaping Texts
• Adapt non-narrative forms and styles to write fiction or factual texts, including poems
• Reflect independently and critically on their own writing and edit and improve it
Year 6 Strand 9 – Creating and Shaping Texts
• Integrate words, images and sounds imaginatively for different purposes
You can either set a topic or theme for the concrete poems, or allow the children to decide on the day. If you are picking a theme, a few images that relate to the theme should be prepared in advance and be displayed in the lesson. (We are using the theme of nature to base this lesson plan on, though this can easily be adapted to space, history, the Olympics etc.)
Bring your class together and explain that today they will be writing a shape poem (also known as concrete poems or calligrams). Introduce your theme, which in our examples is nature. Ask the children to suggest ideas to write their poems about. Write them on the board. For example, you may have – the sea, butterflies, a tree, winter and fishing on a lake. Pick one to discuss in detail. Ask the class for descriptions and encourage them to think of ideas for each sense. Write them on the board.
Main Teaching Activity
Split the class into groups or pairs, and give each pair / group an idea that the class has just generated. The pupils then need to write a list of words that describe their subject, (we’re using the sea for our example). Allow 10 minutes for this. Once this is done, ask the children to create several descriptive sentences based on their ideas they’ve just come up with. For example, they may have ‘Roaring ocean sounds like a lion’, ‘Stormy seas swish and swash’, ‘Tiny waves lap the shore’, ‘Surfers ride the gigantic, rushing waves’, ‘Screeching seagulls hover over the gentle ocean looking for fish’, ‘Salty waves fill up rockpools’, ‘The sea is deep blue against the clear blue sky’. Next ask them to draw a basic outline of a shape that relates to their subject (or give them pre-printed artwork). For example, if the sea is their topic, they could draw a couple of cliffs, some waves of varying size and perhaps a boat on the horizon. Using the words they have generated they then write the words, or sentences on the lines they have drawn. Once completed a concrete poem has been completed.
This is a 5-10 minute activity. Ask the children to work in pairs to read their poem to their partner. Their partner is to provide feedback; something they like about the poem and a suggestion on how it could be improved. You can also ask pupils to read their finished poems out to the class.
To challenge more able pupils ask them to write descriptive sentences before they write on their picture. They can even be challenged to write a poem, that they then can transform into a shape poem.
For less able pupils provide a list of key words they are to include. They can work in pairs or small groups to create a joint poem and have the support of an adult to assist them. You can also provide them with a pre-printed picture for them to write their words on.
This is a one-hour activity. Alternatively the introductory work can be done in class and the poem can be written as homework. This lesson plan is also suitable for after school clubs and extra curricular activities.
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