We have gathered a variety of lesson plans suitable for different grade levels to help you explore poetry with your students during Poetry Month. Each set of lesson plans has the full text of the poem or links to a reading or transcript, as well as Shared Inquiry™ activities appropriate for the recommended grade levels.

As you delve into these poems with your students, be sure to have them:

  • Read or listen to the poem multiple times
  • Share what they notice about the poems and, in cases where there is video of the poem being read, the poet’s delivery
  • Read closely and analyze specific words, phrases, and literary elements
  • Use evidence to explain their answers in discussing the poems
  • Listen and respond civilly to other students’ ideas

Celebrate Poetry Month with Junior Great Books

“The Land of Nod” by Robert Louis Stevenson

Recommended for grades K–2
This poem for the youngest readers captures the world of sleep with vivid imagery. The lesson plan includes a prereading activity, a second reading activity in which students engage in choral reading, and suggested questions for a discussion with your students.

Download lesson plans for “The Land of Nod.”

“At work with my father” by Eve L. Ewing

Recommended for grades 6 and up
In this coming-of-age poem, Ewing reflects upon time spent with her father on Chicago’s Navy Pier, a longtime city tourist attraction, as he makes a living drawing caricatures of tourists.

Download lesson plans for “At work with my father.”

“On Friendship” by Kahlil Gibran

Recommended for grades 6 and up
In this poem, Gibran examines the nature of friendship in great detail. The work inspires rich discussion about a concept that many of us never think about very deeply. Included in this Shared Inquiry learning kit are a full set of interpretive activities and links to related Great Books stories and related art.

Download lesson plans for “On Friendship.”

“The Hill We Climb” by Amanda Gorman

Recommended for grades 6 and up
On January 20, 2021, Amanda Gorman inspired the nation with her Inauguration Day poem, “The Hill We Climb.” This young poet burst onto the scene with a powerful poem that moved and inspired those who watched and listened. People around the nation and around the world started talking about “The Hill We Climb” immediately, and those conversations continue today.

Watch and listen to Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb.”

Download lesson plans for “The Hill We Climb.”

“New Day’s Lyric” by Amanda Gorman

Recommended for grades 6 and up
“New Day’s Lyric” was released on Instagram at the end of 2021, according to poemanalysis.com, “in order to usher in a more hopeful new year in 2022. The piece explores themes of hope and change.” In an interview with Vanity Fair, Gorman said her newest poem was partly inspired by the stories of grief and perseverance she’s seen shared on social media, so it was fitting, she said, that she published it on such a platform, too.

Watch and listen to Amanda Gorman’s “New Day’s Lyric.”

Download lesson plans for “New Day’s Lyric.”

“The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus

Recommended for grades 6 and up
Did you know that the immortal words, “‘Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,’” were penned by the American poet Emma Lazarus in her sonnet “The New Colossus”? Did you know that Lazarus wrote the poem in 1883 to raise funds for the construction of a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty? In 1903, a bronze plaque with the poem was mounted inside the pedestal.

What have these words meant to you in your understanding of the United States’ attitude about immigration? Have our collective ideas about immigrants changed since the statue was raised?

Take a deeper look at this poem with your students by downloading the lesson plans on this page!

Download “The New Colossus” lesson plans.

“Let America Be America Again” by Langston Hughes

Recommended for grades 6 and up
Is the American dream available to everyone? Langston Hughes asks this and many other poignant questions in “Let America Be America Again,” a passionate and provocative poem he wrote in 1938. More than 80 years later, many of these questions remain unanswered.

“Let America Be America Again” expresses earnest hope and great pain. How can we grow and progress in making America’s promises available to all?

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

Take a closer look at “Let America Be America Again” with your students. Download the sample lesson plans, from our anthology The Will of the People: Readings in American Democracy, on this page!

Download sample lesson plans for “Let America Be American Again.”