Literacy Ideas

How to Write a Superb Simile Poem


What Is a Simile Poem?

Simile poems are simply poems that are built around an extended simile or a series of similes. Once you’ve taught your students that similes are comparisons using ‘like’ or ‘as’, tasking them to write simile poems is an excellent way for them to consolidate this understanding through hands-on practice.


How to Write a Simile Poem

Writing a simile poem is as easy as…

Before setting your students the task of writing a simile poem, you need to assess that they clearly understand the purpose of similes and the mechanics of how they work.

Start by ensuring your students understand that similes:

1. Create images in the reader’s mind by connecting two seemingly unconnected things

2. Make a direct comparison of two things using ‘like’ or ‘as.’

To do this, have your students practice writing some standalone similes first to allow you to assess whether they have this understanding.

Let’s take a look at some more fun activities you can do with your students to reinforce their understanding of similes:

  • Have students read poems and circle the similes they find
  • Read a poem to the students and have them raise their hands every time they hear a simile
  • Hold a Simile Bee where you provide the contestants with a word, and they have to devise a simile using that word.

Once you’ve ensured everyone has a firm grasp on a simile and how to compose one, your students are ready to begin writing their simile poems.


Simile Posters

How to Get Started Writing a Simile Poem

Simile poem writing stage 1 . choose a subject to write about.

The task of a poet is to give the reader new and fresh insight into the world around them. The first thing the student needs to do is choose a topic to write about.

This isn’t always easy, so you should have some suggested topics available to help kickstart your students’ pens should they struggle to develop their ideas. This will allow them to get to the task at hand quickly. Here are some suggestions for suitable topics you may wish to share with your students:

  • Romantic love
  • A famous person
  • Specific emotions

The more advanced the students are, the more abstract the subject can be. While younger students may need to write about tangible things such as a person or an animal, older students may be up to the challenge of writing about such things as feelings and emotions and the like.

A good rule of thumb to follow here is that if the student is writing about something more ethereal, they may wish to make their comparisons with more concrete objects. This helps reader comprehension by climbing down the ladder of abstraction.

Conversely, when the student is writing about something more concrete, they can compare it with something more theoretical or universal. That is, they climb up higher on the ladder of abstraction.

Simile Poem Writing Stage 2. Brainstorm Ideas

Once the student has chosen the subject of their poem, it’s time to brainstorm. Encourage the student to unload all the ideas in their head onto the paper in a free-flowing and non-judgemental manner.

Now is the time for the student to silence the inner critic. Not all ideas will make it into the final poem, so there is no need for students to screen the worthiness of each and every idea as and when they arise.

The selection and editing process can all be done at a later stage. Right now, it’s most important that the page becomes a dumping ground for every half-baked idea that enters the student’s head – this is the source of real creativity.

As the students gather their ideas, they can begin to build them into similes, making a comparison using ‘like’ or ‘as’ between the subject or an aspect of the subject and their brainstormed idea.

Soon, the student will have gathered together a collection of similes on their subject. Now it’s time to turn those disjointed similes into a cohesive whole.


simile poem | Poetry writing unit 2023 1 1 | How to Write a Superb Simile Poem |

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Simile Poem Writing Stage 3. Structure the Poem

After the brainstorming exercise above, students should be left with a chaotic jumble of ideas on the page (or pages). Now is the time to bring some order to the project before writing poems that use similes.

Simile poems have no specific set structure, so this is entirely up to the student’s discretion. Sometimes the content and ideas will suggest a clear structure or order to the student; at other times, the choice of organizational logic will be arbitrary.

Of course, simile poems can be written in free verse with no regard given to the length of stanzas, rhythm, rhyme, etc.

However, conforming to some set structure can help students craft their work and avoid the occasional tendency for student poetry to degenerate into a dirge.

Suggesting some suitable structures to students to get them started can be helpful. For example, couplets and quatrains can be basic structures that offer a solid framework for students to hang their words on without being overly restrictive.

Simile Poem Writing Stage 4. Edit and Arrange

By now, the student will have decided on a subject to write about, gathered up a host of ideas and transformed these into workable similes, and built some cohesive structure on which to hang everything. The final finishing touches are now all that is required to polish the embryonic poem into a full-grown masterpiece!

At this stage of the process, please encourage your students to play around with what they have so far. Students can experiment with the order of their lines, images, and stanzas. They may like to remove words, alter, substitute, and fuse elements of their work to find the most poetically pleasing version possible.

When all this is done, a final proofread for spelling , punctuation, and grammar is in order.


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To Conclude…

Writing any form of poetry can be a lot of fun for students. But, for some students, poetry is the most daunting form of writing they can be asked to undertake.

Poetry can be difficult to pin down. It can be more difficult for some students to grasp the purpose of this genre of writing than it would be to grasp the purpose of instruction writing or a chronological report, for example.

For this reason, tasking students with a specific focus for their poetry-writing endeavors, in this case, similes, can go a long way to encourage them to approach poetry writing with a sense of experimentation and creativity.

By following the process above, even the most reluctant of poets should be able to produce a worthy simile poem.


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The content for this page has been written by Shane Mac Donnchaidh.  A former principal of an international school and English university lecturer with 15 years of teaching and administration experience. Shane’s latest Book, The Complete Guide to Nonfiction Writing , can be found here.  Editing and support for this article have been provided by the literacyideas team.


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Lonely as a Cloud: Using Poetry to Understand Similes

Lonely as a Cloud: Using Poetry to Understand Similes

  • Resources & Preparation
  • Instructional Plan
  • Related Resources

Many students approach poetry writing with fear and trepidation. Literature can provide a scaffold for students to use when approaching a new writing task and can help create an environment that increases the opportunity for student success. In this lesson, students identify similes in poetry and gain experience in using similes as a poetic device in their own work.

Featured Resources

Simile Poem Brainstorm handout: This handout can be used with any lesson about similes.

From Theory to Practice

  • A poetry link is a writing suggestion, statement, or assignment that stems from an original text.
  • By examining models, students can make their own reading-writing connections. They use these models-playing with the meaning, form, and elements of the original-as a springboard for their own writing.

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
  • 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.

Materials and Technology

  • Willow branch or photo of a willow tree
  • Ginkgo branch or photo of a ginkgo tree
  • "A Red, Red Rose"
  • Poetry books
  • Mirrors of various sizes
  • Dictionaries and thesauri
  • Writing notebooks
  • Writing and drawing tools
  • Reflection journals/learning logs
  • Chart paper
  • Overhead projector and markers
  • Simile Poem Brainstorm
  • "Willow and Gingko"
  • Self-Assessment Task Sheet


Student objectives.

Students will

  • Gain knowledge by defining the term simile
  • Apply this knowledge by identifying examples of similes in literature and poetry
  • Practice analysis by examining the purpose and effect of similes in poetry
  • Synthesize their knowledge by using a graphic organizer to create their own similes and then incorporating these similes into their own writing

Session 5 (optional)

  • Compile all completed pages into a class book. Circulate the book to staff members, family, and friends of the students. Include a page where readers can respond in writing to the authors.
  • Compile a list of all their brainstorming work on similes to be stored in the writing center as a resource.
  • As students are reading self-selected books, they can use sticky notes to mark any passages where they find an interesting simile and then share it with the class later.
  • Assign students to write another poem in the style of "Willow and Ginkgo" that uses similes to describe and compare two similar items.

Student Assessment / Reflections

  • Informally assess students' comprehension of similes during class discussion. Do students correctly identify similes in the poems you read aloud? Are students able to underline the similes in "Willow and Ginkgo?" You can also look at the definitions students wrote in their journals.
  • Check the Simile Poem Brainstorm sheets and the students' poems to make sure that students are able to come up with similes and extend them. Do students use similes appropriately in their poems?
  • Have students complete the Self-Assessment Task Sheet .

Students are assigned to be "poets of the day" and are provided several models to create, illustrate, and present their different poems to the class.

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Simile Poems

Simile Poems

Subject: English

Age range: 7-11

Resource type: Worksheet/Activity


Last updated

28 November 2014

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simile poem assignment

Simile and Metaphor Poetry Lesson

Making comparisons with simile and metaphor — a poetry lesson plan.

This lesson plan uses descriptive examples to explain how to distinguish between simile and metaphor . Students will analyze poem excerpts to identify comparative phrases and pinpoint occurrences of similes and metaphors. Then, they will create their own similes and metaphors to explore how poets choose whether to use a simile or metaphor in a specific poem.

What’s a Simile? What’s a Metaphor?

Similes and metaphors are poetic techniques that let us compare two different things in a descriptive way. Here are some examples.

  • I was standing perfectly still, like a statue.
  • The cafeteria stew was as tasteless as mud.
  • By tomorrow, our house will be as clean as a whistle.
  • My sister likes to go to bed early, but I’m a night owl.
  • You’re such a chicken.
  • Life is a roller coaster of emotions.

Have you noticed the difference between similes and metaphors? A simile uses the word “like” or “as” to help make the comparison. (You can remember this by how the word simile looks like the word “similar.”) On the other hand, a metaphor directly compares two things by saying that one actually is the other.

Read each poem excerpt. Underline the comparative phrase, and tell whether this comparison is a simile or a metaphor.

The Base Stealer (by Robert Francis) Poised between going on and back, pulled Both ways taut like a tightrope-walker…
I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud (by William Wordsworth) I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high o’er vales and hills…
Hope is the Thing with Feathers (by Emily Dickinson) “Hope” is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul— And sings the tune without the words— And never stops—at all…
Sea-Fever (by John Masefield) I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life, To the gull’s way and the whale’s way, where the wind’s like a whetted knife…

Write 5 different similes about yourself. Here is one example:

When it’s time for dinner, I’m as hungry as a tiger!

Then, change your similes into metaphors. Your example might look like this:

Last night at dinner, I was a tiger attacking my food!

Now look at the similes and metaphors that you have created. Which of your ideas works best as a metaphor? Which ones work best as a simile? Explain why you think so.

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