Figurative language can be a challenging concept for young writers to grasp. Many are fearful to play with language and want to be literal with their words. It is almost like un-teaching the rules of writing and words that typically go together. Today I worked with second graders to examine personification and how authors can make objects and items take on humain traits!
I started my lesson asking students to think about a time they have played with their toys or action figures and thought, “I wonder what would happen if this came to life?”. I explained how authors do this when writing and consider how to make ordinary objects or items feel like they have come to life by using vivid action words and give them human traits.
I read excerpts of the book, “Water Dance” by Thomas Locker. This remarkable book is a collection of poems that describe parts of the water cycle through poetic riddles. The illustrations in the text are breathtaking paintings and show movement. However, the emphasis was not on the illustrations as I read aloud. I told the students that this author will be giving them clues to help them figure out what natural element is being described. The students were so excited to try and solve the riddles! As I read the poems I emphasized on asking students to think about the human actions that were described.
It is always a wonderful feeling to be sharing a book with students and to see their eyes light up with excitement to see what will happen. This book does exactly that and truly inspired them to start considering how they might write their own poems and riddles!
We started our writing by brainstorming as a group to think of weather events and things in nature that we could write our own personification riddles. Students came up with great ideas including tornado, earthquake, lava, frogs, rainforest, and even a blizzard. I chose “tornado” as our class personification poem and as a group we thought of human actions that could be used to describe it. Students had some trouble at first coming up with the human actions or emotions. It required some support from me to help guide their ideas by pushing more vivid language.When a student suggested “picking things up” I nudged her to think about “lifting” and putting rocks “over their head” to use more specific language. Students then went to their notebooks to choose their own topic and brainstorm the actions.
After brainstorming we came together as a class to then write our own class personification poem, using the brainstorm we came up with. I encouraged students to use the phrases we had already written and pump up the creative language. Below is what they came up with:
I lift rocks over my head.
I get dizzy from spinning all day.
I destroy everything in my path.
I run fast like a scared cheetah.
I am a tornado.
It was then time to unleash the writing beasts and let them begin writing their own poems. While some chose to continue adding to their brainstorms, many were feeling extremely inspired to write! I was so impressed with the creative word choice and active verbs they wrote. It certainly helped that their amazing teacher had the idea that these riddles could be shared with 2nd graders in other classrooms. There was a huge sense of pride and excitement in the air.
Check out our writers as they share their amazing personification poems!