The Road Not Taken Project Ideas

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

Would you like to teach your students about the iconic poem 'The Road Not Taken' by Robert Frost? The following project ideas will enhance their learning process through hands-on instruction.

Why The Road Not Taken?

While Robert Frost wrote many poems during his prolific career, The Road Not Taken is the one piece of poetry that has perhaps best captured the public's imagination. According to many critics, it is also the work that is most often misinterpreted. The following project ideas will assist in stimulating your students' minds as they endeavor to better understand the poem.

Timeline Project

Let your students know they will be creating a timeline of Robert Frost's life. Their timelines can include the following 18 crucial events in his life, although they can add more.

  • 1874 - born March 26th
  • 1885 - dad died when he was eleven
  • 1894 - published his first poem on November 8th
  • 1895 - married Elinor on December 19th
  • 1900 - mom died when he was 26, and his son Elliot died of cholera
  • 1907 - daughter Elinor Bettina died as a young infant
  • 1912 - sailed to live in Great Britain
  • 1915 - left Great Britain for the U.S. during WWI
  • 1920 - committed younger sister Jeanie to a mental hospital
  • 1929 - younger sister Jeanie died
  • 1934 - daughter Marjorie died of puerperal fever
  • 1938 - wife Elinor died of heart failure
  • 1940 - son Carol committed suicide
  • 1947 - committed daughter Irma to a mental hospital
  • 1960 - awarded U.S. Congressional Gold Medal
  • 1961 - read at Kennedy's inauguration on January 20th
  • 1962 - visited the Soviet Union in the summer to negotiate peace
  • 1963 - died January 29th

In this first project, your students will be working on individual projects. For these crucial dates in Frost's life, ask your students what would have happened if he had taken a different road, or 'the road not taken' so to speak. For instance, what if he had decided not to move to Great Britain? Would he have written even more New England poems? What if he had stayed in Great Britain during WWI? Is it possible he would have perished there during the air raids? What if he hadn't married his wife? The two were co-valedictorians in high school, and he considered her a source of inspiration.

  • Now, have your students use markers and paper to create a fictive alternate timeline showing Frost taking a different road.
  • Next, have each student write a paper comparing and contrasting the events in the original timeline with the new road they created for their timeline.

Travel Brochure Project

  • Let your students know they will be creating their very own travel brochures dedicated to The Road Not Taken. First, divide them into small groups of 4-6. Then tell them they are to create travel brochures combining the iconic poem with Frost's two loves, New England and nature. For example, they could create a section about his farm in Derry, New Hampshire, and pair it with The Road Not Taken. Have them research to learn several of the other places Frost lived during his lifetime, and combine each place with the poem. For instance, they could showcase a hiking trail with yellow pines near one of Frost's homes.
  • Before handing them in have students exchange brochures and critique each other's works. (You can provide a rubric.) Ask them to keep the criticism as constructive as possible.

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