All About Me from A-Z

Use the letters of the alphabet as prompts for autobiographical poems.

By Alicia Johnson


wooden alphabet


I am like an airplane.

I love the sky.

Allowing students a chance to express a little bit of who they are, is rewarding for them...

I am like a burning candle.

I try to light the way for others.

I am like a crow.

I enjoy eating things out of my garden!

It seems so simple, so cliché almost, to use the alphabet to guide your young poets through a 52 line poem. However, it will make sense to them. It will give them some sense of order and encouragement to continue. The alphabet acts as a sort of bread crumb trail to lead your young poets through to the end of their thought collection.

The Project

Rather than simply teaching the concepts of simile and metaphor as literary terms they need to know, give your class 26 chances to use them in their own writing. Encouraging pupils to write about themselves may be the start of something great for them.  If they don't catch the writing bug after this assignment, at least they will have a clear understanding of how to use similes and metaphors.

So often, young people are hesitant to write deeper than "Roses are red...." That is okay because we all know that when they finally do, they are usually extremely proud of their work. Sometimes your students may be willing to write, but they just have a hard time getting started. How many times have we asked our classes to write creatively only to hear, "I don't know what to write about." That's where prompts come in. Prompts help get the engine started. They reduce the amount of time a pupil is just thinking about what to write. This project solves that problem. Your 4th or 5th grade classes (and I am willing to suggest that even higher grades will appreciate the exercise) will be writing about themselves, using the alphabet as their guide. The exercise includes writing poetry using similes and metaphors to create strong imagery about who they are. They can even rhyme if they desire.

The Goal

Class members will each create a poem about themselves using similes and metaphors to describing how they see themselves. Aim for the following goals for your students:

  • To learn how to use similes and metaphors to enhance meaning in their writing.
  • To try their hand at poetry.
  • To be interested in their subject.

Take it to the Next Level

Ideally, you would be able to allow them to transfer their writing into a Voicethread multimedia presentation to share with the class or just their family members. Voicethread is simple to use, utilizes PowerPoint slides, allows for an audio component, and peer reviews are easy because students can record or type their responses to their classmates' presentations directly onto the Voicethread. Windows Movie Maker is another option because it allows a voiceover recording during the visual presentation. Both are ideal platforms for such a presentation. By using photos they bring in or images from the internet, your class can produce wonderful autobiographical creations while still managing to address a couple of Core Standards.

Language Standard K-5 (4th Grade)

  • L 4.5 - Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

a. Explain the meaning of simple similes and metaphors (e.g., as pretty as a picture) in context.

Speaking and Listening Standard K-5 (4th Grade)

  • SL 4.5 - Add audio recordings and visual displays to presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or themes.

More Lessons:

A Statistical Study of the Alphabet

This lesson is from a GED review class but math classes that teach or review statistics will have fun with this assignment.  This lesson provides the outline as well as necessary worksheets to get you started.  The goal of this lesson is to teach pupils how to determine probability through the use of statistics.

Getting Down with the Alphabet

This Art/Technology project uses photographic hardware and software technology to create an alphabet book using images of everyday objects throughout their school that have letter shapes.  The skills required to create the book set the class up to create more advanced projects down the road.  The problem-solving skills used in multimedia creations help pupils in all aspects of their academic and personal lives.

Reading Without Seeing: Louis Braille and the Braille Alphabet

Louis Braille, the Braille Alphabet, and the difficulties of not being able to see are explored.  Worksheets are provided to complete the activity of creating a Braille alphabet.  Learners will create a card with their name and drop it in a bag. They draw a card and try to "read" the names in Braille.  They will journal about their experience and are encouraged to share the activity with family and friends.

English Guide

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Alicia Johnson