The Courage That My Mother Had Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

This lesson plan will help students determine the author's message and interpret figurative language as they read the poem, 'The Courage that My Mother Had' by Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Learning Objective

Upon completion of this lesson on 'The Courage that My Mother Had' by Edna St. Vincent Millay, students will be able to:

  • Evaluate the central message of the poem and explain details that shape the message
  • Interpret figurative language and describe its impact on the meaning of the poem


60 minutes

Common Core Curriculum Standards


Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).


  • brooch
  • courage
  • granite
  • intangible
  • quarried
  • tangible
  • treasure


  • copies of 'The Courage that My Mother Had' by Edna St. Vincent Millay
  • paper
  • pencils
  • colored pencils

Reading & Discussion Questions

  • As a warm up, read The Courage That My Mother Had Summary as a class, discussing as you read:
    • What are some examples of family heirlooms?
    • What are some intangible gifts you have gotten from relatives?
    • What does the author mean when she compares her mother's courage to 'rock from New England quarried'?
    • What does the author's mother leave her?
    • What does the author want?
    • What might lead the author to reflect on her mother's courage?
    • How does the brooch seem to contrast with the author's mother's character?
  • Ask if there are any questions, then give the students the lesson's printable worksheet to assess their understanding of the story.
  • Check the answers as a class.



Materials: copies of 'The Courage that My Mother Had' by Edna St. Vincent Millay, pencils, paper

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