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I Come From: Art and Poetry

Context for this Lesson

Teaching Strategies: 
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TOPIC: Poetry based on personal experience, use of imagery


FOCUS QUESTION: How do creating images through drawing and embodiment, aid in the creation and understanding of imagery in poetry?

MATERIALS: Colored pencils/markers or oil pastels, pencils, paper for drawing, lined paper or notebooks for writing lines of poetry


TEKS 7.8A English Language Arts and Writing, Grade 7

Determine the figurative meaning of phrases and analyze how an author for language creates imagery appeals to the senses and suggests moods.


Write poems uses poetic techniques and figurative language


HOOK: Life Map                                                                                                           

In this next segment we’re going to work on a drawing activity.

But before we do, let’s look at this map for a moment. What are some of the images you see? What do they mean? I’m going to give you one minute to turn to the person sitting next to you and discuss what you notice on this map. Places, animals, paths, names of rivers, a compass etc…, write them down. We’re going to keep these ideas in mind as we create a short map of our life so far. We’re going to have a path that connects points of interest. For your map I'd like you to focus on events and places that are significant to you.

Think about important landmarks in your life, important moments, and places, how will you represent them?

To the best of your ability please put these events/places in chronological order. Choose 4 events or places to represent. Feel free to use symbols. But try to make your symbols unique to you, for example if you are drawing a moment like when your baby sister was born you might draw a baby, but you could also draw an object that represents a moment that you shared with her. What’s a memory that you shared that is really special to you? What object might represent that memory? Or where were you and how can you show that using an image of one thing that was there.

That being said, we have 20 minutes so you’ll have about 4 minutes for each symbol. Sketch it out and have fun with it. There are art supplies at your table. If you run out of time, think about colors that might represent those moments, colors that represent the feelings you have in those places like, joy or sadness.


Now, looking at your life maps I’d like you to share your favorite place with a partner at your table. If you used a symbol, explain the significance of that symbol. Tell them the details, what does that place look like? What do you like to do in that place? Are there other people who like to go there?

When you are finished: Thank your partner.

Transition: Now we are going to take our favorite place and explore it through writing.


EXPLORE: I come from a place…                                                                      

On the overhead projector take a moment to look at this prompt, “I come from a place...” This prompt can be used to write a poem where each line of the poem begins, “I come from a place…” Take your favorite place from your map and finish the prompt, “I come from a place...”

This prompt can be tricky because it doesn’t always mean something literal.

Let me give you an example, on my map I might have a picture of my backyard. In order to help me write my line of poetry, I want to come up with a list of all of the details about that place. There is grass with sticky burrs, there are lots of bugs, we have a butterfly garden, and I can hear my neighbor’s dog. Then based on those details I’ll write my line: “I come from a place where I see butterflies in the afternoon.”  Now I’ll want to take a moment and think, what might that tell someone about where I’m from? What do you think it says about where I’m from?

Take some answers from the group.

Let’s take the images you created in your life maps and all the wonderful details in your images and use them in your writing now. For the next 5 minutes I’d like you to pick 2 of your favorite places from the ones you created on your map. Write 5 details about each place, give me a thumbs up when you’re done.

Take those lists and for each place write 2 lines of poetry about that place that begin with, “I come from a place…”

(Source: prompt "I come from a place..." from Megan Alrutz)


Group students into pairs. One person in each pair will be the artist, the other will be the “clay”. Tell the artists to "sculpt" their partner into a statue representing a specific theme, word, or character relevant to your content. The only rule is that you may not put your clay in any position that would make them uncomfortable. After the participants have finished sculpting, the sculptures remain frozen and the artists walk about their newly created gallery.
To “sculpt” the artist can show the clay what they want them to do using imaginary puppet strings, or simply gesturing from a distance how they want the clay to move, called mirroring.

In just a moment you are going to create a frozen statue with a partner that represents your “I come from a place…” line. Before I get into the specifics there are a few things I want to go over about creating a frozen image. First of all, think about different levels, you can stand up, sit down, crouch or kneel. Also, make your expressions really clear. Make your gestures big with your body and don’t forget about your face. This helps us understand what’s really going on. Finally, and this is most important, make sure you pick a position that you can hold for a while.

I’m going to show you three different ways of working with a partner. Can I have a volunteer? In order to work respectfully, you can show them what position to be in, in one of 3 ways. You can either move them gently by asking, can I touch you? Or use puppet strings (show) or mirroring (show). As the artist it is your responsibility to ask your partner which option they are comfortable with. Both partners create your images and remember it as best as you can. You’ll have three minutes for this activity.

You and your partner are going to create an image that represents your, “I come from a place…” line in detail. You are going to want to sculpt a partner in a position you would be in, in your favorite place. Think about the line you wrote. How can your frozen statue best represent that line? In order to do this, to begin one of you will be the artist and one of you will be the clay or the statue.

I need one of you to be 1 and one of you to be A, which one of you wants to be 1? Ok, A’s you are the artist first and 1’s you are the clay first. When you have created your image, please switch.


Now that we are finished, let’s have this side of the room go first. This side of the room will share their images and afterward we will share out what we saw, then the other side of the room will get to share what they have created.

What images or feelings do you see in these statues? 

Take a few answers.

What details help support that?

Take a few answers.

Ok great. Let’s switch.

Side coaching:

  • Before you begin please ask your partner if you may touch them (or if there’s no touching if you may sculpt them).
  • When mirroring it is important that you hold the position once you are placed in it. Don’t keep mirroring once you’ve been told to hold something.
  • Try to explore different levels and body positions.

Transition: These were wonderful images. I really got a sense of these important places and events in your lives through your poetry and images.



  • What did you enjoy about any of the activities we did today?
  • How did it feel to write about your memories after you had already drawn some images?
  • Did creating a statue of that line of poetry bring anything new to your understanding of those events/memories?
  • Was there a step in there that was particularly hard, or fun for you?