Writing Poetry with Rebus and Rhyme

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Lesson Introduction: 

If you’ve ever drawn a heart for the word “love,” you’ve written a rebus. Rebus, writing which substitutes images for words in the text, is used by authors to write books for young readers able to identify only a limited number of words, so why not use this same technique to teach writing? 

Students are first introduced to a variety of books using rebus writing. They then brainstorm lists of rhyming words that they could use in their own rebus poems. Finally, students create their own rebus poems and share them with an audience. This lesson uses Jean Marzollo’s book I Love You: A Rebus Poem as a model for using rebus writing to create wonderful poetry; however, any of the rebus books included on the accompanying book list would be appropriate for this activity. This makes a wonderful Valentine activity, although it is certainly not limited to that holiday.

Learning Objectives: 

In this lesson, students will have opportunities to:

  • Explore the connections between words and images using rebus books. 
  • Compose original rebus poems, based on a model.
  • Define and explore rhyme by identifying rhyming words. 
  • Reflect on their writing process.
Materials and Resources: 

To teach this lesson, you will need:

  • I Love You: A Rebus Poem by Jean Marzollo, and/or another rebus book (See Rebus Book List
  • crayons and drawing materials
  • printouts


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Poetry In Voice is a charitable organization that encourages Canadian students to fall in love with poetry through reading, writing, and recitation. All of our resources are available online for free. You may also use our resources if you reside outside of Canada.