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.

Featured Poem

Horse and Sleigh on Valdez Trail to Fairbanks

 Horse and Sleigh on Valdez Trail to Fairbanks
Horse and sleigh on Valdez Trail to Fairbanks. Alaska United States, ca. 1900. [Between and Ca. 1930] Photograph.


Classroom Activities

The following activities and questions are designed to help your students use their noticing skills to move through the poem and develop their thinking about its meaning with confidence, using what they’ve noticed as evidence for their interpretations. Read more about the framework upon which these activities are based.


1. Warm-up (pair share): Draw a picture of a snowy evening. Be sure to include as many vivid images as you can. Share your picture with a partner and describe the images that you included. 

2. Before Reading the Poem (noticing and pair share): Look carefully at the image of the photograph “Horse and sleigh on Valdez Trail to Fairbanks.” What do you notice first? Look again. What else do you see? What might be going on in this image? 

3. Reading the Poem: Read the poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost silently. What do you notice about the poem? Annotate for any words or phrases that stand out to you or any questions you might have. 

4. Listening to the Poem (enlist two volunteers to read the poem aloud): Listen as the poem is read aloud twice, and write down any additional words and phrases that stand out to you. Call back the lines that you like by saying these lines aloud with your group.

5. Small-group Discussion: Share what you noticed in the poem with your partner and another pair of students. Based on the details you just shared with your small group, how might the image from the beginning of class relate to the poem? What images stand out to you in the poem? What might the woods symbolize? 

6. Whole-class Discussion: How would you describe the mood in the poem? Why? What promises do you think that the speaker might have to keep? Why might the speaker repeat the final line? 

7. Extension for Grades 7-8: Reread the first stanza. Why might the speaker say he thinks he knows “Whose woods these are”? Write a postcard to the owner of the woods from the speaker. What might this speaker tell the owner? 

8. Extension for Grades 9-12(Teachers, if you haven’t already, now might be a good time to introduce rhyme scheme.) Reread the poem and pay close attention to the rhyme scheme. Write an emulation of this poem where you mimic the rhyme scheme. Or, rewrite the poem in a different season. 

More Context for Teachers

In the essay “Sincerity and Inventions: On Robert Frost,” the poet Carol Frost discusses Frost’s poetry, his writing practice, and the story behind “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” Read more