Skip to contentContribute to ReadWriteThink / RSS / FAQs / Site Demonstrations / Contact Us / About Us



Contribute to ReadWriteThink

ReadWriteThink couldn't publish all of this great content without literacy experts to write and review for us. If you've got lessons plans, videos, activities, or other ideas you'd like to contribute, we'd love to hear from you.



Professional Development

Find the latest in professional publications, learn new techniques and strategies, and find out how you can connect with other literacy professionals.



Did You Know?

Your students can save their work with Student Interactives.

More more

HomeClassroom ResourcesLesson Plans

Lesson Plan

Color Poems—Using the Five Senses to Guide Prewriting

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)


Color Poems—Using the Five Senses to Guide Prewriting

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Four 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Michelle Ota

Seattle, Washington


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



Once students experiment with poetry, they learn that they have another outlet for communicating their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. In this lesson, students are asked to think about colors, while imagining what they taste, feel, smell, sound, and look like. They explore sample color poems, as well as imagery and symbolism. Students use their five senses as a prewriting tool to guide their poetry writing before drafting, revising, and publishing their color poem. This lesson is open-ended enough that students can write free-form poetry or follow a provided template to create a color poem.

back to top



Color Poem Assessment: Use this student reproducible to guide peer review, writer review, and teacher review of students' color poems.

Color Poem Templates: This student reproducible contains two templates for writing a color poem.

back to top



In "Priming the Pump," JoAnn Portalupi explains "A writer's eye takes in the surroundings with keen perception. Learning to ‘see' means stretching to use all five senses." Portalupi encourages writers to "Stake a claim on something-your desk, the classroom, the lunchroom, your bedroom. Don't just describe what you see, but also include the sounds, smells, and feel of the place" (5). Beyond simply expanding students' perceptions to inform their writing, asking students to include their senses in their writing through metaphor and simile is a powerful way to learn more about their inner thoughts. As Judith W. Steinbergh concludes in her article "Mastering Metaphor through Poetry," "Teachers' guidance in discussing metaphors in literature and in creating metaphor in original writing offers students a powerful tool that supports their intellectual, emotional, and creative development" (331).

Further Reading

Dunning, Stephen, and William Stafford. 1992. "Found and Headline Poems." Getting the Knack: 20 Poetry Writing Exercises. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

Read more about this resource


Portalupi, JoAnn. "Priming the Pump." School Talk 6.4 (July 2001): 4-5.


Steinbergh, Judith W. "Mastering Metaphor through Poetry." Language Arts 76.4 (March 1999): 324-331.

back to top