Poems for Teaching Onomatopoeia

Poems for Teaching Onomatopoeia


Looking for Onomatopoeia poems for teenagers as part of your sound devices lesson plan? This list of poems using onomatopoeia will make you the master teacher you’ve always dreamed of becoming.


ELA Common Core Standards Covered

Teaching imagery in poems may cover the following ELA Common Core Standards.  This is for your administrator, not your kids.  Kids need student-friendly worded objectives.

  1. RL.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
  2. RL.9-10.2 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.
  3. RL.9-10.10 By the end of grade 9, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 9-10 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range. By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, at the high end of the grades 9-10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
  4. L.9-10.6 Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.

Key Points When Teaching Onomatopoeia

Make sure that what you teach is valuable beyond the walls of the classroom. As you teach onomatopoeia in poems for teenagers, focus on the lasting benefits of becoming an onomatopoeia master. Use the following guidelines.

  1. You should teach what onomatopoeia is if you are teaching onomatopoeia! Simply teaching the definition, however, is not sufficient.
  2. Students should be able to identify onomatopoeia on their own.
  3. Students should be able to explain the purpose for the onomatopoeia example and analyze how it contributes to the theme of the poem. I have provided analysis of poems using onomatopoeia in the sound devices study guide (coming soon).
  4. Students should be able to write poems using onomatopoeia.
  5. Students should be able to use onomatopoeia in their own non-poetry writing to communicate more clearly.

List of Recommended Poems

  1. “The Bells” by Edgar Allan Poe – I have yet to meet a student who does not enjoy hearing this poem. After reading the poem aloud, you may want to break students into groups and have them analyze each section, focusing on tone, mood, and images. Discuss the different moods and images created by the type of bells being described.
  2. “Cynthia in the Snow” by Gwendolyn Brooks – Brooks crafts a poem that imitates the sound of playing in the snow. Because the poem is short and contains a powerful metaphor on race and identity, “Cynthia in the Snow” makes an excellent poem for speed poetry analysis. If you’re really brave, take the kids outside the next time it snows and see how accurate Brooks’ description is.
  3. “Honky Tonk in Cleveland, Ohio” by Carl Sandburg – Bring in some honky-tonk, the type of music played in cheap nightclubs popular in the south and southwest, and analyze or compare Sandburg’s onomatopoeic description. If you’re really brave and no longer want a job, take your students to an actual honky-tonk bar in Cleveland.
  4. “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes – I memorized this poem in 5th grade. I don’t think I realized just how violent and sexual it was. I think high school students will. I think they’ll enjoy it. This poem would make a great movie. Instruct students to write a play or movie scene with this poem as an inspiration.
  5. “The Rusty Spigot” by Eve Merriam – You’ve probably figured out that this poem imitates the sound of a rusty spigot gushing forth water. It’s a fun poem. Make it even more fun by bringing a hose to the cafeteria and spraying down students that are making out. I also recommend this analyzing sound devices in poetry lesson plan (coming soon).
  6. “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carrol – Lewis Carrol takes onomatopoeia to the next level. Instead of making sounds into words, he turns words into sounds. Have students imitate Carrol’s language experiment with a poem of their own. It’s about 8-trillion times harder than it looks.

Teaching Literary Elements with Poems

Understanding literary elements is necessary for literary analysis.  These poems will help you teach literary elements.

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