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Stanza & Line in Poetry: Lesson for Kids

Lesson Transcript
Instructor
Heather Jenkins

Heather has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in special education. She was a public school teacher and administrator for 11 years.

Expert Contributor
Maria Airth

Maria has taught University level psychology and mathematics courses for over 20 years. They have a Doctorate in Education from Nova Southeastern University, a Master of Arts in Human Factors Psychology from George Mason University and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Flagler College.

Just like stories, articles, and textbooks are made up of different sections of text, poetry can also be divided into parts, too. In this lesson, you will learn about lines and stanzas in poetry. Updated: 11/29/2019

Find Me Treasure!

You can't think of pirates without thinking of buried treasure. Likewise, you can't think of buried treasure without thinking about a treasure map. Why would someone make a treasure map? So they could find the treasure at a later time, of course!

Just like treasure maps help you find where the treasure is located, poetry is also organized to help readers find information in a poem. So how do poets organize poetry? Well, you don't need to wait for a peg-legged, parrot-wearing treasure hunter to draw a map - let's go!

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  • 0:04 Find Me Treasure!
  • 0:35 Line by Line
  • 1:50 Stand By Your Stanza
  • 4:49 Lesson Summary
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Line by Line

Have you ever been to see a movie at the movie theater? If you have, you know how important it is to find the best place to sit in the rows of seats in front of the screen. In poetry, a line is kind of like a row of seats in a movie theater. Lines are the text that takes up one line, or row, in a poem. Poems can have any number of lines. How many lines can you find in the Kenn Nesbitt poem, 'The Cough'?


The Cough
cough poem


If you said 10 lines, then you're right! Each row of text is a line, and there are 10 rows of text.

Lines are important in poetry because some types of poems depend on the number of lines in them. For instance, haikus and lanterns both have only 3 lines. Limericks and cinquains are examples of poems with exactly 5 lines. Sonnets, however, contain 14 lines of poetry. Poems would not be poems without lines.

Stand By Your Stanza

What's your favorite book? Is it about space aliens or secret-agent chickens? Whatever your favorite book is about, it most likely has paragraphs. These paragraphs group sentences about the same topic together to help you understand the story. If you're reading about stealthy chicken agents, then you'll probably find a paragraph about them ''hatching'' a plan to get the bad guy.

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Additional Activities

Find and Create Stanzas and Lines of Poetry

In this activity, students will explore many examples of poetry identifying the number of lines and stanzas of each. Then they will compose a poem with a given number of lines and stanzas.

Materials

  • Multiple books of poetry or access to poetry sources (such as the internet)

Instructions

Examples

  • Review the concepts of 'stanzas' and 'lines' with your students.
  • Instruct your students to find three poems with different numbers of lines and stanzas. They will need to:
    • Write down the name of the poem.
    • Write down how many lines the poem has (remember, each poem must have a different number of lines).
    • Write down how many stanzas the poem has (remember, each poem must have a different number of stanzas).
    • (Optional) Write a brief summary of the poem.

Compose Your Own

  • Now, give your students a target number of lines and stanzas for their own poems.
    • You may want to give them a range, such as:
      • Between 10 and 20 lines with at least 2 stanzas.
    • You may want to give them exact numbers to reach.
    • You may want to just give minimum numbers and allow students more creative freedom.
  • Allow time for your students to share their poems with you and/or each other.

Extension

  • Instructing students to compose a poem that will teach the lesson learned about lines and stanzas will further solidify these concepts in their minds; however, this may not be appropriate for all skill levels.

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