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.
Home Alone (1990)
- Warm-up: Quickly go around the room and ask each student to share an association they have with the phrase dinner party.
- Show your students the trailer from the film Home Alone. Ask your students to write down what they can remember of the plot from the trailer. What actions does the boy take? How do they think the boy feels? How do they react to what he does? (You might need to show the trailer a second time.) Ask them to share their thoughts with a partner.
- Project the poem “I Invite My Parents to a Dinner Party” in front of the class. Ask your students to read it silently and write down the words, phrases, and structural elements that jump out at them. Play the audio of Chen Chen reading the poem and ask your students to write down anything new that they hear. Play the audio a second time, following the same process.
- Gather your students in small groups. Ask them to share what they noticed while reading and listening to the poem. How does the poem relate to the film Home Alone? How are the feelings of the boy in the film and the speaker in the poem similar or different? Why might the poem be written in couplets? Ask your students to cite evidence for their interpretations.
- Whole-class discussion: Ask your students to tell you what happens in the poem (i.e., what is the narrative?). What do they think is the “nonlinear slapstick meets / slasher flick meets psychological / pit” that the poem’s speaker and his boyfriend are “co-starring in”? Again, ask them to cite evidence for their interpretations.