Beacon Lesson Plan Library
Let the Bugs do the Rhyming
Lee County School District
Students learn about limericks and write their own about a favorite insect.
The student uses repetition, rhyme, and rhythm appropriately in oral and written text (for example, choral reading of poems, songs, rhymes, and stories; identifying rhymes, repeated sounds, onomatopoeia).
-Book: Silverstein, Shel. [Where the Sidewalk Ends]. New York: HarperCollins, 1973.
-Book: Silverstein, Shel. [A Light in the Attic]. New York: HarperCollins, 1981.
-Book: Livingston, Myra Cohn. [Lots of Limericks]. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991.
-Reference books on insects
-Overhead or chalkboard
1. Gather books with limericks in them like Shel Silverstein's, [Where the Sidewalk Ends] or [A Light in the Attic], or a poetry anthology like [Lots of Limericks] listed above. Even Mother Goose has limericks that are fun for the students.
2. Review the limericks so that you have an idea of what they consist of.
3. Gather reference books on insects and encyclopedias.
1. Read a few of the limericks by Shel Silverstein or from the [Lots of Limericks] anthology by Myra Cohn Livingston.
2. Ask the students if they can identify a similarity in the poems. Give the answer if they do not see that the poems rhyme at the end.
3. Once the students notice that the poems end in rhyming words, you can begin explaining that limericks always have words that rhyme at the end of the lines. The first, second and last lines rhyme; then the third and fourth lines rhyme with different rhyming words than the first line. The following examples are from Shel Silverstein's [A Light in the Attic].
“The Dragon of Grindly Grun” (page 33)
I'm the dragon of Grindly Grun,
I breathe fire as hot as the sun.
When a knight comes to fight
I toast him on sight,
Like a hot crispy cinnamon bun.
“The Lost Cat” (page 151)
We can't find the cat,
We don't know where she's at,
Oh, where did she go,
Does anyone know?
Let's ask this walking hat.
4. Give examples on the chalkboard or overhead and underline the rhyming words. For example, in the limerick below, underline the rhyming words “toes” and “clothes” and “goes” in red to show that they rhyme then underline “hair” and “bare” in black to show that they rhyme together. This helps the students understand how to put together their limericks.
“The Beard” (page 164) from Shel Silverstein's [Where the Sidewalk Ends]
My beard grows to my toes
I never wear no clothes
I wrap my hair
around my bare
and down the road I goes.
5. Work through a few more limericks together on the overhead or chalkboard using limericks selected from the books listed above.
Example: by Gelett Burgess
I wish that my room had a floor
I don't care so much for a door
but this walking around
without touching the ground
is getting to be quite a bore
6. Ask the students to think about their favorite insects and decide which one would be the most fun to write a limerick about. Possible answers include: butterflies, spiders, beetles, mosquitoes, ants, bees, cockroaches, flies, ladybugs and dragonflies.
7. Using a web or other graphic organizer, have the students brainstorm ideas and descriptions about their insect. Books on insects and encyclopedias may be referenced to help spark creative ideas and provide theme-related vocabulary. Try to encourage the students to think about rhyming words as they are brainstorming ideas. Allow ten minutes for this activity. Note: More time might be needed if books and encyclopedias are referenced.
8. Allow students to write their limericks. Walk around the room and help them if they need it.
9. When they have finished their poem, they can draw a picture that goes with their work.
10. Once everyone has finished their poems, pictures or not, they read their limericks aloud to the class. (If students need more time, read alouds can be done the following day so that they can work on their poems overnight.)
The learners are assessed on their ability to choose rhyming words by creating one limerick in the correct sequence of first, second, and fifth lines rhyming and the third and fourth lines rhyming. The teacher looks for the students' comprehension of limericks and their ability to create one of their own. Those students who cannot complete the activity need to have more one-on-one instruction.