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Art & Writing...A lesson inspired by "Birds" by Kevin Henkes

A Writing and Art Project from WritingFix
Writing Project: A Short Verb Poem Art Project: A Marble Painting

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About this lesson's author:

Shannon Allan is a first grade teacher in Sparks, Nevada. She is currently working with a team teacher and enjoys sharing writing ideas with her partner. Shannon loves to incorporate art with her writing lessons.

The Writing Lesson:
Bird Verb Poems

This writing and art project was written by Northern Nevada teacher Shannon Allan during the NNWP's inservice class on Art & Writing Projects. Shannon is a first grade teacher in Northern Nevada.

This page contains the writing portion of this two-part lesson. Click here to view the accompanying art lesson plan.

Shannon's Lesson Overview:

This lesson provides the students with an opportunity to record verbs from the mentor text Birds and organize them into a poem that reflects a piece of art work they create with marbles and paint.

Writing Lesson Materials:

  • Mentor Text: Birds by Kevin Henkes
  • Alpha Boxes for each student
  • Poem outline for each student (see template below)
  • Sharpie for each student
  • Bird Shape cutout for each student (see sample above for the approximate shape)

Writing Lesson Instructions:

  • For this lesson, Shannon has her students do the accompanying art lesson first.
  • With the art lesson done, re-read Birds by Kevin Henkes aloud.
  • Have students identify and record any verbs that they heard onto their alpha box recorder. Add ‘ing’ to all of our verbs. Afterwards, have student brainstormed some additional verbs that they thought could describe the movement of birds and added those to their alpha boxes.
  • Give the students a full minute to look at their verb lists and their artwork, thinking about the "best" verbs they wrote down and trying to pick out which verbs best fit their artwork.
  • The students then chose 3 verbs to add to a poem template:

  • Next, model how to write around the cutout bird shape, making their poems fit all the way around the shape. They have students write their own poems around the bird shape onto their artwork and carefully trace over the words with a sharpie so they are easier to see.

Some Teaching "Hints" from this Lesson's Author:

  • Before the students write their poems onto their artwork, have them practice writing their poems on a separate paper around the bird shape so they get used to how they have to space their poem to get it to fit around all the way around the bird shape.
  • I also put tape on the back of the bird shape so that it stuck to their paper as they wrote their poem and didn’t slide around. A very simple bird shape (see my example in the picture above) will work the best.

We're Seeking Photographed Student Samples:

Teachers: We're looking for photographed student samples for this lesson that we can feature here. Do you have a revised and edited sample to share? Take a photo of the final product, and send attachments to us at Please write "Bird Verb Poems" in your e-mail's subject line. If we publish your sample here, we will send you a complimentary copy of one of the NNWP's Print Publications for your classroom.

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