Giving With Imagination
- Grades: 3–5
- Unit Plan:
Students will become aware that there are many ways in which one can give a "gift." They will also practice using their imaginations to "give" important gifts.
- Be able to distinguish between gifts that relate to the heart and those that are simply purchased.
- Create a poem for someone else.
- Use appropriate word choices and metaphors to extend the meaning of the poem.
- Overhead projector or chart paper to use to model the form of the poem
- Overhead of format of poem
- Colored markers, chalk, crayons, or paint to use for the poem
- Books or short stories to read aloud that emphasize gifts from the heart, such as "The Gift" by Helen Courrant or Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox
- Gift Poem Work Sheet (PDF)
Set Up and Prepare
- Hang up chart paper prepared with poem format or use overhead projector with overhead of poem format.
- Prepare your own poem to act as a model.
Step 1: Introduction
Explain to the students that there are many ways to "give" to someone or to the community. Discuss some of the ways they know that people "give" to each other. Tell them that today they will be reading a story (or book) that relates to gifts from the "heart" rather than from the "purse."
Step 2: Read and discuss a short story such as "The Gift" or a picture book such as Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge. What made the gift so special?
Step 3: Discuss: If you had an imaginative power to give anything, what would you give someone or something you care about? It might be a gift for a relative, a pet, or a person you admire. (Emphasize that it has to be something the student couldn't buy with money, and it is something the receiver wouldn't normally have. It is a wishful gift. For example, the student could give the receiver "the speed of a cheetah.")
Step 4: Using the chart or overhead, show the format for the poem. Tell students that they're going to use this poem to give a special kind of gift to someone they care about - anyone, from someone famous like Martin Luther King to someone or something familiar like their pet or their mom.
Step 5: Model how you, the teacher, would fill in the poem for your special person. Remember to use imagination and metaphor to extend the meaning. Take suggestions from the class.
Step 6: Review the poem that was modeled and the format students will use.
Step 7: Have the students decide to whom they are going to dedicate their poem. They should do a "prewriting" activity to help them plan: either jot down notes; make lists or webs of adjectives, similes, and/or metaphors that fit their topic; do brief drawings which symbolize what they would give; etc.
Step 8: Students write their rough drafts using the format you have given them.
Step 9: Students use the writing process to work through to a finished product including sharing their rough draft with a peer, revising, editing, and writing a final copy. They can choose and use "stationary" for their final polished piece. (See Best Books for this Unit for information on the Scholastic teacher resource, The Big Book of Classroom Stationery. It provides many stationery design choices that can be used.)
As the teacher, give a "heart" gift to every student in the class. Write a sentence to each child telling why each is special.
Students take home their finished poems to share with their families or the poems become part of a class book, which is duplicated and given to each student to share with their families.
Did I give enough background information? Should I have read more examples? What part of this lesson was most enjoyable for the students? Were students pleased with their finished product? What would I change next time I do this lesson? Have the students extended their ideas so that the poems go beyond usual "gifts" into those things that are really special to them? Have they incorporated imagination and metaphor into their writing?
As students are working on their poems, use teacher observation to evaluate whether they understand the assignment. Are the students using metaphors? As you go around, discuss what the students have written. Read aloud to the class particularly well-done pieces.
You can also use a rubric which includes: whether the format of the poem was correctly used; whether the child used imagination and took the personality of their "receiver" into account; whether word choice or metaphor make the poem interesting and personal; whether language mechanics meet grade level standards.
Teach your students about the real joy of giving by having them write poems for gifts!