Search form

Writer's Workshop: Poetry Scavenger Hunt - Grade 5

Lesson Objective: To use creative language to express intention and directions clearly.

Common Core Standard: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.6.5.A

Interpret figures of speech (e.g., personification) in context.


  • Paper
  • Writing Utensils
  • Classroom setting


Say: Have you ever felt like a poem was talking to you? Like you were walking down the road less traveled yourself and could feel the crisp air around you? Or felt like a poem captured a feeling you couldn't quite put into words?

Today we will explore poetry and how creative language can still clearly and concisely convey information and ideas. We will also be discussing the tools authors use to do this.


Say: Unlike much of the writing you may be familiar with, such as in the books you read or the essays you do for class, poetry does not need to be so direct. Poetry is known for expressing ideas and emotions largely without being directly addressed by the author.

How do we do this? How do we express something in our writing without just saying it?

There are a few ways. In some instances, an author will choose to describe something rather than use its name. They may also do this for settings and events.

"The crooked hand tic tok'd on and on, denoting the time that passed."

Instead of saying, "the clock told me two hours had passed," an author may choose to tell you how time felt like it was passing. The clock had expressed what they thought about the passage of time.

In that sentence, it does not seem that the author was excited or happy. Instead, it sounds like the author was bored or perhaps upset. We can make that inference based on the tone the author chooses to use. In our example, the author did not say:

"The hands buzzed past numbers at a speed I never thought possible, and incredibly, it was time."

This choice of phrasing lets the audience know that the author was excited or full of anticipation.

Do: Allow your students to put forth suggestions as to a sentence they think similarly describes a moment or emotion. Once you are satisfied with an appropriate response, write that on the board.

Say: Another type of poetic tool is the simile. The simile is the literary device that compares two things directly against each other. This type of description uses the phrase "as, like or so." The phrase "quiet as a mouse" is a simile. Let's all brainstorm a few similes together!

Do: allow students to brainstorm openly and choose a few to write as examples.

Say: The following tool in our writer's toolbox is called metaphor. A metaphor is a comparison that does not use the phrases "like" or "as." Metaphors are trickier to write because it is easy to use "like" and "as" when describing something. An example of a metaphor is, "The cold rain was a hose, blasting down around me, washing away the dirt and mud."

Do: Allow the class to brainstorm metaphors. Choose several and write them on the board. These are trickier, encourage questions, and add suggestions where you see fit.

Say: Now that we have discussed a few different ways of conveying our thoughts and feelings, we will play a game. Together we are going to come up with a poem that directs us through the classroom. This will be a scavenger hunt! 

Each line of our poem must contain a metaphor and a simile. There will be five lines, and each line is a clue for the next location. Once we are done writing a class poem, we will break into teams, and each team will create their own scavenger hunt for another group to complete.

Do: Take some time brainstorming a poem together. Some popular places to hide the next clue around your classroom may be behind a map, under a certain person's desk, near the whiteboard, by a window or clock, or perhaps near the art supplies and supply closet.

After your class has done one example together, break up into small groups—no more than five students if possible. Each student can take charge of one line.

During this time, walk between the groups, guide them, offer advice, write tips, and ensure that each group includes each of the tools you discussed. Encourage students to be creative, within reason. Remember, you will have to hide each of these clues in the correct location. Ceiling tiles are not viable options.

Once the groups have completed their poems, have them cut their poems into individual clues. Now you must hide these clues. Hide them after students leave your class. If your class stays in your room all day, lunch, recess, and "specials" or electives would be an ideal time. If your students rotate classes every day, you may want to wait for the next class session to finish the activity.

Students can search for clues in several ways. You may hide all clues in their respective locations, keeping the first clue for each poem to get students started. Pass along the first clue to a group who did not write the poem and allow all groups to search independently. You may also allow one group at a time to explore, allowing the class to offer support in finding clues if necessary. Personalize the scavenger hunt experience based on your own unique classroom setting and time constraints.


Written by Amber White

Education World Contributor

Copyright© 2021 Education World