ESL Writing Activity: List Poem

Here is a writing activity to help ESL students learn English writing with a whole lot of creativity.

List Poem

  • Time: 10-20 minutes
  • Level: High beginner +


There are a great many examples of List Poems on the net. One of my favorites is by the great writer Shel Silverstein’s, Sick, a fine list poem.


What is a list poem? It is a kind of free form poetry.

This fun, high interest activity asks students to make a list of things and put them inside a loosely structure poem.

What kind of list?

  • Things I’m afraid of
  • Places I’d like to visit
  • Food I’d like to eat
  • Things I’d like to do
  • People I’d like to meet
  • Things I’ve learned outside class
  • My best excuses
  • The best presents I ever received
  • Dreams

How it Works

Step 1

Explain the idea of a list poem. List poems generally have four features:

  1. a single topic
  2. a list of people, places, things or actions related to the topic
  3. organized ideas
  4. free form structure; words don’t need to rhyme

Step 2

Find and display a few examples on the web to review as models.

Step 3

Students think, create and write.

The Skill

Students learn how to build a list and sequentially integrate facts into a cohesive story. Weaving facts into a whole story is a vital cognitive skill for any writing genre.

Teach writing?

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2 thoughts on “ESL Writing Activity: List Poem”

  1. Thanks, Rod
    Great idea, have used similar form before, but this is so clearly set out and straight forward to follow
    Good one

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