Poetry and Science

Poetry and Science:  "The language of science is metaphorical in nature... scientific models are like metaphorical language in poetry," (Abisdris and Casuga, 2001, p.59). 



Annotated Articles:


Beckstead, L. (2008). Scientific Journals: A Creative Assessment Tool. Science and Children, 46(3), 22-26. Retrieved from ERIC database.


I really recommend this article for integrating literacy and science!  It was very well-organized and captivating.  The poetry ideas included were using haikus, tankas, cinquians, lanterns and acronyms about nature topics to include in a “Science Journal” that is published by the whole class.  Publishing and the mature, official nature of the project make it motivating and show students that they are capable and respected.  The author believes writing poetry in conjunction with science units helps students in their literacy assessments, though she does not include the benefits for learning the science content!  Another drawback is that the types of poetry recommended are not explained in detail. 




Kane, S., & Rule, A. (2004). Poetry Connections Can Enhance Content Area Learning. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 47(8), 658-669. Retrieved from ERIC database as pdf.


Though this article is intended for adolescent teachers, many of the principles and ideas can benefit elementary teachers.  There are several examples of poems that can be integrated with instruction on science concepts, including Dylan Thomas’ (1953) poem titled “Poem in October” which could be used for instruction about seasons and weather patterns, and Diane Siebert’s (1988) poem “Sierra” which features a mountain as a narrator and can be used to teach about landform and geography.  Other ideas include having students write poems describing a specific mineral or gem, as these are identified mainly by appearance, texture and other descriptive features.  A wonderful quote from the article says, “Poetry can clarify some concepts for some students that didactic methods cannot,” (p. 660). 

                                thomas                                           Sierra



Mullarkey, L. (2008). Pattern perfect. Instructor, 118(3), 49. Retrieved from Education Research Complete database as html.


Mullarkey describes a fun science project for children in grades 1-2, although it could be modified for older students as well!  While reading poetry, students will notice and discuss the patterns through the rhyme schemes.  I would like to add that there could also be patterns in alliteration, syllables and other higher-level concepts that older students may be learning.  Then, students will compare these patterns to the patterns they encounter on nature walks throughout the year.  For example, an AAB pattern could mimic the pattern on a snail shell that has two different colors of stripes in an AAB pattern!  Other examples are plants and flowers, feathers, bark and honeycombs.  Different observations made throughout the year do hand-in-hand with incorporating poetry year round, and keeping the observations in a science journal will offer reflective opportunities for students!  Another idea from the article was to make an art project with patterns of animal and plant shaped papers (perhaps creating illustrations to accompany poems).   The article concludes by citing several examples of activities to do with patterns in other content areas such as art, music, math, reading and dance.



Recommended Resources:


 i spy

Writing with Jean Marzollo


The observations in science journals that could be turned into poetry relate to an idea by author Jean Marzollo who writes “I Spy” riddle rhymes.  Her website gives examples from the books she has written, and also walks children through the process of creating a similar rhyme while learning poetry concepts like alliteration and rhyme.  The website also offers a function for students to publish their rhymes online and view rhymes from other students. 


 Poetry for Children Blog

Three blog articles about integrating poetry and science, emphasizing the shared importance of observations.   It cites National Science Standards that relate to poetry and sample science poems.  It includes specific activities, like celebrating the day Thomas Edison first demonstrated electric light, or ways to pair poetry with non-fiction texts (science and others).  Scrolling down on this blog post will lead you to many other resources in the blog's history about children's poetry instruction.  On a related note, this blog is a great example of a possible classroom blog for sharing poetry and other literacy resources and activities!