Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Symbolic Poem

Cynthia Youngblood
Santa Rosa District Schools


Students write and share a symbolic poem about simple things that stand for deeper subjects.


The student drafts and revises writing that -is focused, purposeful, reflects insight into the writing situation;-conveys a sense of completeness and wholeness with adherence to the main idea;-has an organizational pattern that provide for a logical progression of ideas;-has support that is substantial, specific, revelant, concrete, and/or illustrative;-demonstrates a commitment to and an involvement with the subject;-has clarity in presentation of ideas;uses creative writing strategies appropriate to the purpose of the paper;demonstrates a command of language (word choice) with freshness of expression;has varied sentence structure and sentences that are complete except when fragments are used and purposefully; andhas few, if any, convention errors in mechanics, usage, and punctuation.

The student uses literary devices and techniques in the comprehension and creation of written, oral, and visual communications.

The student knows how mood or meaning is conveyed in poetry, such as, word choice, dialect, invented words, concrete or abstract terms, sensory or figurative language; use of sentence structure, line length, punctuation, and rhythm.


-Poems with symbolism by various poets


1. Review poetic devices, such as metaphors, similes, and personification.
2. Find examples of symbolic poems in literature book.
3. Collect and make copies of symbolic poetry.
4. Find symbolic poems in literature book to share with the class.
5. Write an original symbolic poem as a model for students.


1. Read several poems that are highly symbolic by several poets. (I use poems by Robert Frost and Carl Sandburg.)

2. Explain to students that Robert Frostís poetry is often about simple things that stand for deeper subjects.

3. Inform students that their assignment is to write an original symbolic poem in order to see if their classmates can guess the deeper meaning. Their short poems should be about a simple, everyday item or event that they feel represents a larger universal idea. Perhaps they will write about leaves falling from a tree in autumn as a metaphor for aging, or a basket of fruit which stands for all the possibilities and choices in someoneís life. Whatever the subject, they should try to incorporate metaphors, similes, and personification as ways to make the simple things symbolize more universal themes.

4. Share a teacher-created symbolic poem. Allow for discussion and sharing of ideas. Tell students that they may "use" an idea shared by someone else, since the poems and the symoblism will be different. This will help students who have trouble coming up with an idea.

5. Share the assessment criteria with the students and then allow them to individually create symbolic poems. As students write, circulate and offer feedback.

6. Students orally share poems, while the class sees if they guess the hidden meanings.

7. Collect and evaluate the poems. (See assessment.)


The poem is assessed to determine if the studentís poem is focused and reflects insight into the writing situation and conveyed symbolism. The poem is also assessed to determine if the student used figurative language, such as metaphors, similes, and/or personification, to convey the meaning and mood of the poem. Allow students who are having difficulty to listen to other students' poems and to confer with the teacher as necessary.
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