Teach This Poem is a weekly series featuring a poem from our online poetry collection, accompanied by interdisciplinary resources and activities designed to help K-12 teachers quickly and easily bring poetry into the classroom.
Warm-up: Quickly go around the room and ask each student for one or two words they associate with winter. If someone wants to pass, return to them after the others have finished.
Play the song “Winter Wonderland” so everyone can hear it. While your students are listening, they should write down the images of winter that the song creates in their mind.
Ask your students to turn and talk with the person next to them. Ask them to share the images the song created for them and how those images made them feel about winter. What is the rhythm of the song?
Project the poem “Below Zero.” Ask your students to read it silently to themselves and write down all the words and phrases that jump out at them. One student should then read the poem aloud to the class while the other students write down any new words and phrases that they think are important. What kind of rhythm do they hear when this poem is read? Repeat this process with another student reading aloud. How do the rhythms in the song and the poem make them feel? What images do the words and phrases create in their minds?
Whole-class discussion: Ask your students to compare and contrast the images that the song and the poem called to mind, paying attention to the specific words used in both. How does the song make the listener feel about winter? How does the speaker in the poem feel about winter? Again, make sure your students give evidence for their interpretations.
How do your students feel about winter? What images and rhythms would they use to describe how they feel? As an extension, ask your students to write a poem or an essay using those images and rhythms.