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					                                                    ELT Network Lesson Plans

                                         Using Limericks with Secondary Students
                                                                                                 February 2007

                                                           Created by: ELT Network Website Team

Class Type                     Upper Secondary

Aim(s)                         By the end of the lesson the students will have:

                                         read and listened to example limericks
                                         analysed and practised the rhythm of a limerick
                                         analysed and practised the rhyming patterns of limericks
                                         practised reciting a limerick

Time                           45 minutes to 1 hour

Assumed Knowledge              Students should be familiar with rhyming sounds.
                               A sample limerick has been created with vocabulary and themes that should
                               be familiar to students.

Materials/Preparation          Photocopies of all the materials provided with this lesson plan
                               Note: Activity 2 needs to be cut up into individual strips (one set per group).
                                     Activity 9 is a bonus activity that includes a teacher's page and visuals
                                     – please give your computer time to download the images.

                               Sound files (mp3s available for download from our audio bites section)
                               containing the example limericks and rhythmic patterns.

                               Suitable playback equipment (optional).

                               It is a good idea to listen to the sound files and practise reciting the limericks
                               and rhythmic patterns before the lesson.

Limericks form part of the new senior secondary Language Arts Elective Learning English through Poems
and Songs. Many students will be unfamiliar with the form and themes of the limerick. Therefore, the aim of
the lesson plans for both February and March is to raise students' awareness of the themes, structures and
poetic devices that are used in limericks.
In this first lesson, the focus is on the RHYTHM and RHYME of limericks. The patterns of limericks are fixed
and need to be introduced and practised before students can confidently write and recite the verse. In the
following lesson, we look at the humorous themes of limericks and provide the opportunity for students to
produce their own.

                                                        ELT Network Lesson Plans

                                             Using Limericks with Secondary Students
                                                                                              February 2007


Lead in:
Ask students what kinds of poetry they know e.g. Haiku. Does anyone have a favourite poem, poet or form
of poetry? Encourage and accept answers about Chinese poetry.
Find out if anyone has heard of limericks. If they have, ask what they know about them or elicit an
Activity 1:
The aim of this part of the lesson is to introduce the students to the form of a limerick by analysing a
sample of the verse. The example contains themes with which students in Hong Kong will be familiar
(Kowloon, typhoon). Footnotes are included at the bottom of the page to explain new terms.
The purpose of the limerick quiz is to raise awareness of the structure of a limerick and also the theme
(usually where something amusing happens to the character). Read the limerick aloud or play the sound file
for the students and ask them to complete the quiz.
You may wish to ask students to count the number of syllables in each line and explain that the long lines
contain between seven and ten syllables and the short lines between five and seven syllables. However,
note that we focus on the beats in limericks and not the number of syllables as we do in Haiku, for
example, where the rhythm is less important.
1. 5
2. N/A
3. c
4. 1, 2 & 3
5. b
6. 3 & 4
7. a
8. 5
Activity 2:
An area where students often have difficulty is with the rhythm of limericks. Before looking at the lexical
content (vocabulary) of limericks, it is important to raise awareness of the fixed rhythm of the verse and
get students to practise it.
Play the sound file (you will need to play it more than once).
First you will hear the pattern of beats for lines one and two:
da Da da da Da da da Da
da Da da da Da da da Da
Then the pattern for lines three and four:
da Da da da Da
da Da da da Da
And finally the pattern for line five (the same as the first two lines):

                                                     ELT Network Lesson Plans

                                          Using Limericks with Secondary Students
                                                                                                February 2007

da Da da da Da da da Da
For the first playback, instruct the students only to listen. For the second playback ask them to identify the
correct pattern of beats on the worksheet.
1. b
2. b
3. a
Follow up:
Ask students to cover their worksheets and provide each group with a set of the cut up strips. Instruct the
students to arrange the strips into the correct order. One strip is incorrect: can they notice it?
Activity 3:
This time the students can see the pattern of beats written as they hear it on the recording (da Da da etc.).
Play the sound file and ask students to identify the correct pattern (2). Then ask them to listen and repeat
what they hear. Encourage them to tap out the rhythm with their foot or their pencil. They may need to
practise this several times.
Activity 4:
Now that the students have mastered the rhythm of the limerick, it is time to raise awareness of the
rhyming pattern of the verse. The same limerick from Activity 1 has been used to provide continuity.
This time the questions focus on the words that rhyme and the rhyming pattern of the lines. Again, read
the limerick aloud or play the sound file for the students and ask them to complete the quiz.
1. typhoon, Rangoon
2. three
3. a
Draw the students' attention to the second limerick, which can remind them of the rules. Encourage them
to read the poem out loud in their groups while tapping to help with the rhythm.
Activity 5:
This activity focuses on words that rhyme. What is often confusing is that rhyming words do not necessarily
have the same spelling (e.g. Peru, zoo, flew). The two exercises test a student's ability to discern which
words rhyme with each other and which do not. Encourage students to say the words out loud to each
other to hear the sounds that rhyme.
The following words do NOT rhyme with the others in their group.

                                                       ELT Network Lesson Plans

                                            Using Limericks with Secondary Students
                                                                                             February 2007

Activity 6:
In this activity students have to think of other words that rhyme with the underlined parts of the title
Suggested answers
play stay say hey they way tray day Monday
mean keen bean been clean pristine scene
fool cool drool stool Liverpool tool pull pool
fly try sky guy pie die lie shy untie dye
Get students to add one non-rhyming word to their lists. Students write their lists on the board and their
classmates have to guess the "odd one out".
Activity 7:
Students now take rhyming one step further and complete the second line of each limerick with a suitable
rhyming word. This exercise is fairly easy, so if you want to make it more challenging, encourage students
to produce their own alternative second lines. Ask them to write up the best examples on the board.
1. tall
2. head
3. gorilla
4. still
5. bee
see Activity 9:
This is a game to get the students actively involved and having fun.
Place the flashcards on the walls around the classroom in random order. Some of the pictures represent the
last word of line two of a limerick, others do not.
Read the lines aloud or play the sound file.
1. Students listen to the first two lines of a limerick with the final word missing.
2. They think about a word which both rhymes and makes sense.
3. Then they identify the picture on the wall that represents that word.

                                                      ELT Network Lesson Plans

                                          Using Limericks with Secondary Students
                                                                                                 February 2007

How to play:
Large classes
Split students into six groups of three or four. Nominate one "runner" in each group. The runner, directed
by his group mates, has to find the correct picture, run up to it and touch it. The last runner to do so has to
sit down. The winning team should be the last ones standing.
Smaller groups
The procedure is the same, but students participate as individuals rather than in groups.
WARNING: This came could become chaotic if not handled well. Be strict about running and pushing in the
class. If you have a large class, you may only want to run this activity with two groups at a time.
Activity 8:
In the final activity, students get the chance to combine what they learned about rhythm and rhyme.
Play the sound file and get students to repeat the rhythmic pattern including the final rhyming sound on
each line.
Practise this and then instruct students to practise reading the whole limerick aloud. Choose on or two of
the better students to "perform" the limerick for the class.
Write up the first lines from Activity 9 on the board and instruct students to come up with a second
rhyming line. If you like, make this a competition with some form of reward for the best lines.


In March's edition of the ELT Network lesson plans, we will look at the themes involved in limericks and
give the students the opportunity to write their own limericks.


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