Monday, March 25, 2019

2019 Post #11-- A Stack of Similes

by Michael Salinger and Sara Holbrook

EDITOR’S NOTE: I’ve been a longtime fan of Michael and Sara’s work, and I am thrilled to present a poem they have written (based on an experience in Ghana!) and a lesson plan from their latest professional book, From Striving to Thriving: Strategies to Jump-start Writing, which I highly recommend. Enjoy! -- Brett


as a lightning bug.
Hanging like a tree fruit.
Beeping like a
smoke detector
Fuzzy as a hamster.
Face like a freeze-dried dog.
Tracking like a sonar.
Flapping like a novice in the deep end.
Megabat is me.

© 2019 Sara Holbrook and Michael Salinger, Dreaming BIG and Small, Streamline Press. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

First, read poem "Bats!" and note it’s made up of a stack of similes, plus a last line that identifies the theme of the poem. Together, co-construct a list of action verbs to describe your classroom. Ask: What do you do (seventh) graders? Answers may include: read, text, chat, watch, dribble, run, laze, eat, etc.

Begin your co-construct by stating a theme: something like Room 206 is us, or eighth grader is me. Turn your action verbs into similes, adhering to the theme.

Label this Version 1. Remind writers that poets tell the truth; however, we also want to be a bit surprising. If a cliché turns up in the Version 1, indicate that we will want to revise that in Version 2.
Next, ask students to come up with a theme for their own writing: Creative is me, an athlete is me, funny is me, etc.

Students can divide their papers like so for a pre-write: 

Ask students to first make a list of actions that pertain to their theme. Invite writers to make a stack of similes from their action verbs. Remind students to try and be surprising. "Fast as a cheetah," may be okay for Version 1, but we will want to be more original in our next version!

Ask students to transition to an electronic device or their writer’s notebooks to rearrange their simile stack into a poem.

© 2018 Sara Holbrook and Michael Salinger, From Striving to Thriving Writers, Strategies to Jump-start Writing, Scholastic.

Further Reading:

Learn more about Sara and Michael's work at and

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