Poetry Paintings: Analyzing and Visualizing Poems

Guest post by Chelsea Allen 

For the month of April, I wanted to teach a poetry unit, and I also wanted to be sure the lessons were derived from the Common Core State Standards. I teach 3rd grade, so I selected four poems from the 2nd and 3rd Grade Common Core text exemplars to read and discuss with my students. Those poems were:

  • Who Has Seen the Wind? by Christina Rossetti
  • Your World by Georgia Douglas Johnson
  • Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost
  • Afternoon on a Hill by Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Before I taught the lesson, I created an anchor chart to record the information we were going to keep referring to and placed it in a prominent location in the classroom. I also created a graphic organizer to use when modeling how I wanted my students to analyze the structure, language, theme, and mood of the poems. You can download the free Analyzing Poetry Graphic Organizer from my TpT store.

Reading and Analyzing Poetry

I decided to begin with “Who Has Seen the Wind.” First we just read the poem out loud. Then we reread the poem and discussed vocabulary words. Finally we analyzed the poem as a whole group and recorded the information on the graphic organizer.

Next, we chose the poem “Afternoon on a Hill.” This time we read the poem together and discussed the vocabulary. I then allowed the students to work with a partner to record their findings on the graphic organizer. We then reviewed the information they found together as a whole group.

For the last two poems, I asked the students to work with a partner to complete the reading, discussion, and analyzing of each poem. At first I thought “Wow – I’m not sure how well my 3rd graders will understand such classic poetry.” But they AMAZED me!


Visualizing Poetry with Watercolor

After we had analyzed all four poems, I allowed the students to choose their favorite poem so that we could also work on visualizing what we read. Each student created a watercolor painting of the image they visualized in their mind while reading their favorite poem. The students enjoyed this part of the project tremendously.


Students were also required to write a reflection piece to explain why they chose to create the image and how it portrayed their poem.

I think the end results were amazing! We learned new poetry concepts, analyzed classic poems, visualized, painted, and reflected on our artwork and how it related to poetry. All of this with 3rd graders enjoying what they were learning!

I hope this is a project you can adapt and use in your classroom. It really helped my students understand how to read and analyze poetry.

Chelsea Allen is currently a 3rd grade teacher, but also has experience teaching 4th grade, 6th grade, and has worked as a K-6th grade librarian. She has found her true career passion working in the classroom. She lives and works in Kentucky, and has also taught in Florida.