Produced for K-12 educators, Teach This Poem features one poem a week from our online poetry collection, accompanied by interdisciplinary resources and activities designed to help teachers quickly and easily bring poetry into the classroom. The series is written by our Educator in Residence, Dr. Madeleine Fuchs Holzer, and is available for free via email.

Featured Poem

Classroom Activities

Resources:  Dried lima beans, clear plastic cups, paper towels, water, potting soil.

  1. Start this activity approximately one week before you and your students read the poem together:  Soak enough dried lima beans in warm water for twenty-four hours, so that each student in your class can have three or four. Have your students place their lima beans between a wet paper towel and the inside of a plastic cup. Place the cups on a sunny windowsill. Keep the paper towels moist (not soaking wet) until the beans start to send out small shoots.

    When the beans have medium-sized roots (one inch or so), ask your students to take the lima beans out of the paper towel, remove the paper towels from the cup, and fill the cup with potting soil. They should then plant the lima beans, roots down in the soil, stems and any small leaves above the soil. Place the cups back on the windowsill so your students can watch the beans grow.
  2. After your students first place their beans on the windowsill, ask them to check the beans each day and write a description of what they see happening with the beans. They should continue to do this even after the beans are in soil, until they have grown and sprouted leaves.
  3. Project the poem “Putting in the Seed” by Robert Frost so all your students can see it. Ask them to read it silently, writing down all the words and phrases that jump out at them.
  4. Ask one of your students to read the poem aloud to the class. The listening students should write down new words and phrases that they think are important. Follow this process with a second student reading aloud.
  5. Conduct a whole-class discussion: How did Robert Frost feel about planting seeds and watching them grow? From what you recorded in your notes, what, in the poem, lets us know how he felt? Ask your students how they felt watching their lima beans grow. What words did they write down to describe the growth that would let us know how they felt?
  6. Ask your students to write a descriptive paragraph that shows how their beans grew and how they felt about it. (Remind them about “show don’t tell.”)