Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Historical Limericks

Jennifer Snekszer


As a class, students study an historical period. Then each student will write a limerick about a person, event, place, or artifact from that time period. The class will present the time period and limericks to an audience.


The student uses supporting ideas and specific information that clearly relate to the focus.


-Books, encyclopedias, and other references for research
-Note cards to organize information
-Several limericks about the people, events, or artifacts of the time period
-Basic formula for limericks to help students write their limericks
-Various items to decorate classroom and create costumes for presentation (optional)


1. Give a limerick lesson and explain how limericks are written. Also, give examples of limericks from the time period and limericks that are written about the time period. This can be done when students have finished their research.

2. Be willing to assist students with researching the time period, understanding research, and writing limericks.


1. Students will learn background information about a time period in history during class in their social studies or history time. Teachers will read the chapter or unit in the history book that pertains to this period. Teachers and students will have a discussion about famous people, inventions of the time period, and the events during the time period.

2. Students will be assigned or pick a person, place, event, or artifact to research that pertains to that particular time period. Each student will have a different subject. Students research their subjects during social studies period, free time, and at home for one day. Research can be done by using encyclopedias, Websites, biographies, and books written about the assigned subjects. At least three sources should be encouraged to be used during research. Students do research mainly in the classroom. Each student will have different criteria to use in the evaluation of the information they have found about researched subjects. For a person, a teacher may want to ask questions that pertain to education, family, significance to time period, and achievements. For an event, a teacher may want to ask questions that pertain to the date of event, why, who, where, and how. For an artifact or invention, a teacher may want to ask questions that pertain to who invented, who used, how, why, and the significance to the time period. Ask these questions prior to research to help guide students. Students may research their subjects in pairs or with library and parent assistance, depending upon the ability of the group. Teachers will also give students suggestions on how to organize their information. Since most of the research will be done in class, teachers have the opportunity to guide students in their research and answer any questions.

3. On the second day, the class will come together in a circle. Each student will orally present the information from the research to the class. Each student will have to answer the specific questions. Students may want to write their information on note cards. The teacher and other students may want to ask questions. The presenter may also have questions to ask the teacher. When a student is finished with his or her presentation, the teacher can give extra information about the student's subject. Students will be assessed on the information they have obtained. The students will have to answer the questions fully and clearly in order to receive full credit. This activty will probably take the whole social studies period of the second day or an hour and a half.

4. Students then review several examples of limericks. Most of these limericks will tell about people, places, events, or artifacts. These examples will help the students in writing their own limericks. Students will also review several limericks written during or about this time period. (See Weblinks.) This activity should be done with the class as a whole. This activity will take approximately one hour. Teachers will give handouts on this information to students for further reference. Then students will organize their information into a limerick. Students will write a limerick during free time. Students may receive help from the teacher or have their classmates review their limericks. The limerick should be written in correct format and should explain information about the subject researched. All of the information about the subject researched is not necessary to include in the poem, only the significance of that time period and basic information.

5. Look at the students' limericks before the day is over and give feedback. On the next day, the class will come back together in their circles and share their limericks. The class and the teacher should give postive feedback, and then give suggestions for corrections if any are needed.

6. As a class, the students and the teacher decide what information they want to present to an audience in non-limerick form. This can be done in another class, such as social studies.

7. (Optional) Then the class will make costumes and decorate their classroom to represent the time period. The class may want to use a stage in their school. The class will do a rehearsal in front of an audience. Then later that evening, the class will present their funny limericks and information about their time periods to their families.


The following is a checklist to be used for assessment.
-The student's limerick focuses on the significance or basic information about the subject.
-The limerick contains ideas and specific information that support the research.
-The student answers the questions given by the teacher during research.
-Overall, the student uses supporting ideas and specific information in the limerick that pertain to the time period.


The students can work together in pairs to research time periods and to write limericks. Students who are classified as ESE or ESOL students can work in pairs with tutors or students from other classes to help guide them while researching and writing the limericks.

Web Links

Web supplement for Historical Limericks

Web supplement for Historical Limericks

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