“When the Frost Is on the Punkin,” penned by James Whitcomb Riley, welcomes readers to an Indiana farm on an early autumn morning in the late 1800’s. This poignant poem provides the perfect opportunity to teach structure and language used in poetry.
• A 17-slide PowerPoint presentation
• Teachers Notes that explain how to use each slide, as well as possible extensions
• “When the Frost Is on the Punkin” hard copy
• Exploring Language in Poetry worksheet
• Guiding Questions
• Links to audio file of Riley reciting poem, Riley biography, and free online file of Riley Farm-Rhymes
Poem is read orally (displayed stanza by stanza in PowerPoint presentation).
Teacher guides students in the exploration of the structure of poetry, including verse, stanza, rhythm, meter, and rhyme. The first stanza is displayed to show examples of rhythm, meter, and rhyme; students may then find them using the second, third, and fourth stanzas.
The class explores the author’s use of language, specifically: onomatopoeia, personification, imagery, and dialect. Again, examples in the PowerPoint presentation come from the first stanza. A corresponding worksheet asks students to find examples of onomatopoeia, personification, and dialect in the remaining stanzas then explain how these enhance the audience’s experience.
Guiding questions inspire discussion of the poem’s meaning.
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Note: The poetry of James Whitcomb Riley is now in the public domain and can be reproduced freely.