School Improvement in Maryland

Using the State Curriculum: Reading/ELA, Grade 2

Reading/ELA | Informational | Literary | Writing | Language | Listening | Speaking

Lesson Seeds: The lesson seeds are ideas for the indicator/objective that can be used to build a lesson. Lesson seeds are not meant to be all-inclusive, nor are they substitutes for instruction.

Standard 3.0 Comprehension of Literary Text

Indicator 4. Use elements of poetry to facilitate understanding

Objective c. Identify and use sound elements of poetry, such as rhyme, no rhyme, and rhythm


Poetry is an oral expression of thoughts and ideas. It is meant to be read aloud. Words in poems are chosen not only for their meaning but also for their sound. Both the sounds and the meanings of the words create the mental images, ideas and feelings in the listeners or readers. Define rhyme and rhythm for students.

Sound Elements in Poetry
Element Definition Examples
Rhyme Repetition of sounds at the end of words; in poems the rhyming words are usually at the end of the lines Man, pan; run, fun; bear, fair; treasure, pleasure
Rhythm The beat or pattern of sounds created by a poet by paying attention to stressed and unstressed syllables in words; gives the words a song-like quality Jack and Jill
Went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down
And broke his crown
And Jill came tumbling after.

Read aloud several poems and have students listen for the rhyme. For example, display and read the poem “Blame the Bed” by Joe Thompson.

Blame the Bed
On some mornings the bed just won't let me out;
and mama will scold me and daddy will shout-
but it's just not my fault the bed won't let me go.
I try and I try every trick that I know:
I say "Look over there, the pillow is loose!!!";
or "I'll be back in minute I must feed the moose."
But none of it works, my bed is too smart-
Though I want to get up (Yes I do, cross my heart)-
Though I'd like to get up, I start sleeping instead.
So when I sleep late, please just blame the bed.

After a choral reading by the class, have the students highlight the rhyming pairs of words. Have the students conclude that the rhyming words appear at the end of the lines and that every two lines the rhyme changes.

Next share a poem with a different rhyme pattern, such as the nursery rhyme “Jack be Nimble”.

Jack, be nimble,
Jack, be quick,
Jack, jump over
The candlestick.

Jack jumped high
Jack jumped low
Jack jumped over
and burned his toe.

After chorally reading this familiar poem, have students identify the rhyming words. When they look at the pattern of rhyme this time, they should discover that the rhyming words appear at the end of the lines but only the words at the end of the 2nd and 4th lines and the 6th and 8th lines rhyme. Explain to the rhyming words can appear in different patterns in poems. Have students examine several other poems to identify the rhyming words and the rhyme pattern.


Now examine the same poems with rhythm in mind. Use the chart definition to begin your discussion. Explain that poets construct their poems so that they have a certain beat when they are read aloud. We call this rhythm. Rhythm is important to a poem because it makes the poem pleasant to hear and helps to establish its tone. Author’s do this by paying attention to the way we say words. Some words or word parts are stressed naturally when we say them. When poets put words together in a poem they deliberately chose and place words so their poem will have rhythm. Reread the poems that have already been read and have students feel the rhythm by clapping, snapping or stamping their feet. Conclude that rhythm is one of the things that makes poetry like music.


Poetry that does not rhyme is also like music. The words and rhythm in a non-rhyming poem can create a feeling or pleasurable sound. Display and read aloud a free verse poem such as the poem below by Valerie Worth found in her poetry collection all the small poems and fourteen more.

Under a maple tree
The dog lies down,
Lolls his limp
Tongue, yawns,
Rests his long chin
Carefully between
Front paws;
Looks up, alert;
Chops, with heavy
Jaws, at a slow fly,
Blinks, rolls
On his side,
Sighs, closes
His eyes: sleeps
All afternoon
In his loose skin.

The poet chooses words that cause the reader to read this poem slowly to reflect the relaxed, almost lazy, mood. Discuss the meaning of “lolls”(to hang or droop). Point out how the verbs in the poem slow it down (lies, lolls, yawns, rests, looks up, chops, blinks, rolls, sighs, closes, sleeps). Explain how the author also sets the pace by using a combination of single syllable verbs and longer descriptive verb phrases. Compare the rhythm of this poem with the rhythm of the other poems discussed in this lesson.


Continue to discuss poems throughout the school year. Incorporate a poetry center in your classroom. Provide multiple poetry anthologies for your students in the classroom library. Take advantage of the sound elements of poetry to help children develop fluency.