Monday, 23 May 2016

Greetings, poets and friends. The Northfield third graders are working on imagery today, by focusing on our five senses. The five senses are an important tool in communication, whether you are telling a story to friends at the lunch table, or writing a poem. Appealing to your audience’s senses creates that “you are there” feeling.

Using their teacher’s chalkboard eraser as an example, we discussed the difference between using our five senses in this way:

The eraser looks black. It feels fuzzy. It smells of chalk. It makes a swishing sound on the board. If I could taste it, it would be chewy.

and using similes and figurative language to create vivid imagery:

The eraser looks as black as a cat prowling at midnight. It feels soft as a panther’s fur. It smells as dry as the desert. It sounds like the wind blowing on a dark night. It tastes like eating cotton balls.

Although we defined simile (a figure of speech in which two unlike things are explicitly compared, often using “like” or “as”), some third graders need reinforcement with the “unlike things” part of the concept. Giving several examples of what is (the flowers were as red as Mars) and is not (the air outside tasted like fresh air) a simile helps.

Wrestling the BeastToday, we used our five senses similes to create action poems. Our mentor text was “Wrestling the Beast” by Arnold Adoff, from his wonderful book of sports poems, SPORTS PAGES.


Each poet chose a favorite activity to write about. I love seeing what topics the students come up with. Again, these are initial drafts. In most cases, we haven’t worked on line breaks or developing our ideas further yet. We’ll save that for our last workshop.

I’ve never been to a Go Kart Race, but Brian’s poem gave me a great sense of what it’s like.

Go Kart Racing
By Brian K.

Finally, I’m off to the races.
Blah, smells as bad as burnt rubber.

The racers come and meet together, saying,
“Good luck.” I finish my refreshing ride
and away I am!

Squeaking like gears on a roller coaster.
Whoa! Here someone comes.
I’m as fast as Speedy Gonzales.

I feel like I’m racing as one of the bulls
in the Running of the Bulls.

Here I come. I see the checkered flag…



The funny hyperbole in Zach’s poem describes a basketball opponent who can’t catch our speaker.

By Zach K.

As I run down the court
it’s like I’m in a stampede,
with enemies and teammates
and the smell of stinky socks
around me, as I run to
the hoop, someone blocks me
as fast as lightning but
he’s an  hour late, the ball
has already gone through
the hoop, the buzzer
sounds like a bee in my ear,
I love basketball.


You know that creepy-crawly feeling you get when you’re sweaty and dirty? Aneesh has a great simile to describe it.

By Aneesh P.

It is the final point. 3-3.
I feel as strong as a bull.
I hear the crowd going wild
like a bunch of cackling hyenas.
I smell a stench like sweaty socks.
I see my team cheering
like a roaring lion.
I feel the dirt
tickling my body like ants.
Then, one two three
BAM. I hit the ball
and get a home run.


The rhythm in Akira’s action poem is fast, recreating the action of a tennis match.

By Akira N.

I run down to get the ball. When I’m playing,
an opponent is like rushing to go to work.
The ball is like a monster charging
toward me. I smell as sweaty as dirty water.
The ball touches fuzzy as dog’s fur.
The ball is roaring with cool wind.


I especially like the extended description in the final image of Achilles’ poem about martial arts class.

By Achilles F.

When my master call me up to spar
I see a sweaty tiger right in front
of me, nervously. When the instructor
counts down to ___, I feel the
wind hitting me like a freight train.
At the end, we smell like a football
player’s gear after his game. I
taste salt water going down my
face and my hair. We sounds
like an 18 wheeler horn going down
a tunnel.


Last for today, you’ll notice the form of London’s poem, which bounces around the page. She is borrowing here from our model poem, “Wrestling the Beast,” which also uses the look of the poem on the page to build drama. See the handwritten and typed pictures for an idea of London’s use of white space on the page.



By London

The pool is deep as a ship,
sinking deep down like a whale,
heavy as a net. A fish?
No, not a deep side but a
place for kids to hang out.

A chair. Comfy. Soaking wet.
A diver. His choice:
Hotness around my neck.
A flipper? Goggles?
A big snorkel
giving air?

A towel?

A towel? A snake? A big jumping
start from the end of the

This is a deep pool. A gentle
Wave from
by me.


Thanks, Northfield staff and families for giving me permission to share the students’ fine poems today. I can’t wait to see what they come up with when we revise together!

If you’d like to read more about Arnold Adoff, check out his website. His latest books is ROOTS AND BLUES, which you can hear Arnold reading on Youtube! 

roots and blues

3 responses to “Imagine that! Imagery poems”

  1. These are terrific, Laura. Thanks for sharing them!

    • Laura says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Michelle. The third graders have been working so hard on their poems. Thanks for being their audience!

  2. […] Our mentor text for this workshop was Gary Soto’s poem, “Ode to Pablo’s Tennis Shoes.” (Read the poem at Scholastic.) The Northfield third grade poets took of their own shoes, so they’d have something tactile to praise and celebrate in their odes. Having an object to work with helped the students build on the sensory imagery we used in our previous workshop. […]

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Laura Shovan

Laura Shovan is the author of the award-winning middle grade novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. Her second book, Takedown, is a Junior Library Guild and PJ Our Way selection. Look for A Place at the Table, co-written with Saadia Faruqi, in 2020. Laura is a poet-in-the-schools Maryland.

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