Imagery in Poetry: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Shelley Vessels

Shelley has taught at the middle school level for 10 years and has a master's degree in teaching English.

Imagery is an important part of poetry that makes it lively and real. Read the following lesson to learn what imagery is, how to spot it in poetry, and how to write some of your own!

What is Imagery?

What poems do you love? Are they the ones that make you feel something? Do they make you see, feel, taste, touch, and hear what the poet does?

In poetry, you will find descriptive and figurative language (metaphors, similes, personification, onomatopoeia) that livens up the piece. When these moments appeal to your senses, you have imagery.

Imagery is used by the writer to get the reader to connect to his/her piece. By getting the reader to think about the poem using their senses (sight, smell, taste, touch, and feel), there is a deeper connection to the topic. Imagery makes the reader feel like they are actually in the poem.

Examples

  • Read this excerpt of Shel Silverstein's 'Noise Day,' and think about what sense is being appealed to.

playing children

'Let's have one day for girls and boyses

When you can make the grandest noises.

Screech, scream, holler, and yell--

Buzz a buzzer, clang a bell,

Sneeze--hiccup--whistle--shout,

Laugh until your lungs wear out'

What sense did you think about when you read this? Could you hear some of the moments like 'buzz a buzzer' and 'laugh until your lungs wear out?'

  • Check out this poem, 'Fireflies' by Evaleen Stein. What sense is being sparked when you read?

'Look! Look down in the garden how

The firefly lights are flitting now!

A million tiny sparks I know

Flash through the pinks and golden-glow,

And I am very sure that all

Have come to light a fairy ball,

And if I could stay up I'd see

How gay the fairy folks can be!'

What sense did you think about when you read this? Couldn't you picture the 'million tiny sparks' and the 'pinks and golden-glow?'

Write Your Own Imagery

Imagine being in this scene. What did senses could you imagine being sparked?

treehouse

In your most descriptive words, how could you describe this scene?

Try writing down all the senses first (sight, sound, etc.), and then fill in the ideas you come up with next to them.

Now take a peek at this example and see if you can find all the senses described in the poem.

Treetop Day

Peering over the railing from our treetop escape

miles down to the earth, it seems

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