Enrich your classroom discussions with poems about happiness from CommonLit’s digital library to help your elementary students build both their reading comprehension and personal development.
Designed by expert ELA curriculum designers, CommonLit offers hundreds of literary texts and reading assessments for students in grades 3-5. Each text comes with a set of discussion questions that you can use for classroom discussions as you help students connect the text to their personal experiences. Here are some poems for elementary students that you can embed into your reading curriculum this school year.
"After the Rain" by Caryl S. Ulrich (3rd Grade)
Focusing on the theme of nature, the speaker begins and ends the poem in different tones, evoking both somber and hopeful emotions through dim and bright depictions of the natural world, including plants and creatures.
For this text, students can examine the author’s choice of words and how the author uses it to capture the beauty of nature. To ensure that students develop their reading comprehension and meet their grade-level reading standards, CommonLit scaffolds the text through its guided reading feature, which includes guiding questions, like, “Why are the flowers bowing or lying down?”
"Dragonfly" by Bill Johnson (3rd Grade)
The speaker explores the wonders of nature observing a dragonfly. Joyful, he watches it soar in awe, wishing that he can join the creature and fly with it.
As students read the text, they can focus on the author’s choice of words to create imagery and bring the dragonfly to life. You can pair this visual poem with short stories and other poems about happiness from CommonLit’s digital library.
"Mountains" by Rukiye Henderson (4th Grade)
From “the cold bitter wind” to “the sound of birds chirping,” the speaker describes what it’s like on a snow-covered mountain during a hike. With a sense of wonder, the speaker depicts both the bright and dark parts of the mountain’s beauty.
While they analyze the poem, students can focus on the author’s use of similes and how he uses it to express his bliss on the mountains. To measure student reading comprehension, you can use CommonLit’s assessment questions, like, “What is the theme of the poem ‘Mountains’?”
"After the Winter" by Claude McKay (4th Grade)
Through the change of seasons, the speaker expresses his love for someone and optimism for the future. He uses seasonal imagery to convey his happy feelings with winter representing the distance from the past and summer offering hope for the future.
Students can focus on the author’s choice of words that create the imagery that mirrors his feelings. While expanding their vocabulary, students can refer to CommonLit’s accessibility tools, which include word definitions, to fully understand the author’s poem about happiness and hope.
"Dreams" by Langston Hughes (5th Grade)
Using imagery, the author shows the power of his dreams and what life would be like without them. His dreams are a place where he can fulfill his hopes and desires, like being with those he’s loved or lost. Without his dreams, where he is united with loved ones, he is unhappy.
With figurative language, the author develops images connected to sorrow in the poem, which students can explore as they read the text. For students to further examine Hughes’ poem, you can lead a classroom discussion with CommonLit’s discussion questions, such as, “Describe a dream that you hold on to. Why is it important to you to not let this dream go?”
"Underface" by Shel Silverstein (5th Grade)
This poem uncovers the truth behind fixed smiles as the author describes how people’s “outside face” hides another face others cannot see. Although this face is less happy, it is honest and closer to the author’s true feelings.
The author’s choice of words makes this poem a great text for helping students build their personal development and understand their emotions. For this reading lesson, you can use CommonLit’s list of discussion questions to help students divulge their feelings with questions, like, “In the context of the poem, can you hide your emotions and how you truly feel? How can we achieve happiness?”
Looking for more poems for elementary students? Browse the CommonLit Library!
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