8 Ways to Write Acrostic Poems to Challenge Upper Elementary Students

how to write acrostic poems

Teaching students how to write an acrostic poem is no easy task! Acrostic poems are a simple way to get students excited about writing. An acrostic poem is a poem that that uses the letters of a focus word, or phrase, to begin each line of the poem. The word or phrase is written down the left side of the poem. Each letter in the focus word begins a complete thought (sentence or phrase) about the topic, beginning with the given letter. All of the lines in an acrostic poem are written about the focus word of the poem.

how to write acrostic poems
Although acrostic poetry can initially seem like an easy form of poetry for students to write, it is quite challenging. (Read more about how to engage reluctant writers with poetry HERE.) I always encourage students to brainstorm carefully during pre-writing with a partner and use a dictionary to help find letter specific words that they can use when they first start writing acrostic poems. Once students get the hang of writing acrostic poetry the fun can begin! There are so many ways to challenge students when writing acrostic poetry, making it easy to differentiate any acrostic poetry writing lesson.

Try one of these ideas to put a fun twist on the traditional acrostic poetry writing activity and help differentiate your lesson or challenge your entire class.

Alliteration Acrostic Poems: Each word in the line starts with the starting letter of each line.

Verb Acrostic Poems: Each line is comprised of verbs that can be done in a specific season, holiday, sport, or place.

Adjective Acrostic Poems: Each line is comprised of adjectives to describe something specific.

Personal Experience Acrostic Poems: Each line includes a memory of an important event that is the focus word of the acrostic poem. Example: Field Trip, Graduation, Birthday

Specific Direction: Be specific and narrow when you give directions for this type of acrostic poem. Example: For a “Friendship” acrostic poem, have students write about the characteristics that make a good friend on each line.

Focus on Nonfiction: Have students research something related to a topic. Example: For an “America” acrostic, students can research Memorial Day or Flag Day, gather information and record what they learned in the form of an acrostic poem. This is perfect for biography and research projects, too. If you are studying endangered animals, have students create an acrostic poem for "endangered" and include all the information from their research in their poem.

Fiction Book Reflection: These are so much fun to write and offer the students a change in the traditional summary or reader reflection activity. Example: If you are studying characters, have students write the name of a character from their book and fill in each acrostic poem line with character traits, feelings, and actions-all supported by examples from the text. It is an engaging way for students to show what they know! This also works well with settings. Have the students write the name of an important setting from a book and write the acrostic poem with the focus of how the setting impacted the story. 

Mixed Up Acrostic Poems: Each line has a different rule created by you! Be creative and use your students' ideas and interests to guide you. 

Acrostic Poem Teacher tip: Create a poetry bulletin board for the year and simply swap out a new acrostic poem each month. Be sure to hold on to each poem as you change out the bulletin board each month or season. Collect the students’ poems and create a student poetry book to present to the students at the end of the school year.

acrostic poems upper elementary

Acrostic poetry is fun to write and boosts students’ self esteem and interest in writing. By writing acrostic poems with a twist, students will never tire of this form of poetry. The only materials you need are paper, pencil, and markers. So what are you waiting for?  Get started today on writing different forms of acrostic poetry with your students. They will love it and it will greatly improve their creative thinking and writing skills. (Read more ways to engage your readers and writers with poetry HERE.)

Looking for a formal acrostic poetry set to use to differentiate instruction or at your writing stations and centers? Click HERE or the picture below, to grab everything you need from acrostic poem templates and rubrics, to bulletin board letters for a year round poetry writing classroom display!

acrostic poem template

What type of acrostic poems do you write in your classroom? Share below!

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