Lesson Plan: Shel Silverstein’s Poem “Where the Sidewalk Ends”

I. Preparation: Who is Shel Silverstein?

Each students receives cloze biography of Shel Silverstein (from biography.com).

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 2.58.30 PM


Each student also receives one slip of paper with different information about Silverstein’s short biography. One slip = One sentence –> One student. Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 3.14.42 PM

Students take a couple of minutes to fill in the blank that corresponds to the information they received. Then, they walk around the classroom trying to fetch the information they are missing. This part of the activity can be concluded with a reading of the completed text, or a timeline drawing. This should give them an idea of who Shel Silverstein is. I also suggest showing a picture of him, and the Instagram handle @shelsilversteinpoems.

II. Reading “Where the sidewalk ends”

a. Vocabulary:

  • Start with asking students if they know what a sidewalk is, and make sure the explanation shared amongst the students is correct.
  • Give out this vocabulary sheet, and check comprehension. Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 3.27.10 PM

b. Illustrate: 

Students will work in pair in order to illustrate (draw) the specific piece of the poem they receive. (Teacher cuts the poem in piece before class)

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 3.31.26 PM

While the students are decoding and drawing their piece of the poem, the teacher makes room on the board for students to paste their art when they are done. The letters A | B | C | D | E | F are written on the board, and students go hang their respective illustration under the letter corresponding to the passage they were given.

c. Find the Order:

When all the drawing are on the board, students receive a copy of the poem (in the right sequence). From the class’ illustrations, they will have to put the drawings (by letters) in its correct sequence. In this case, E-A-D-B-C-F is the correct sequence.Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 9.44.16 AM

III. Understanding the Poem

  • What are the different feelings in this poem? To answer this question, students should work in pair or groups of three. They should come up with a list of feelings that directly comes from the imagery and language of the poem. Example (from students): “The grass grows soft and white.” –> Fresh, nature, young, freedom. 
  • Ask students what they imagine the sidewalk represents. First they can discuss in their group, and then share with the class. Write their suggestions on the board, and have them explain why they thought about the meaning. Remind them that they should refer to specific language and imagery from the poem.
  • Tell the students to reread the poem, and imagine that the sidewalk represents adult lifeWhat is Shel Silverstein telling adults?

I ended this sequence by showing them a reading of the poem.


I hope you liked this teaching sequence. It was definitely a success with my group of students (young adults). Feel free to share with me suggestions and feedback.


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