How to Teach Elements of Prose, Drama, and Poetry

Teaching prose, drama, and poetry is quick and easy. Kids have seen these forms of literature before. They just need a little vocabulary, structure, and practice.

Ms. Sneed Teaches Prose, Drama, and Poetry

Our favorite fourth grade teacher, Ms. Sneed, browsed the Internet for literature activities relating to RL.4.5. “What can I find for teaching prose, drama, and poetry?” she wondered aloud. “I want to keep it simple and straightforward. Hmm, it looks like this PowerPoint presentation will work just fine.” She noticed that it used three versions of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” – prose, drama, and poetry – as examples. “Perfect,” she told herself.


The next day, Ms. Sneed called her class to order. “Okay everyone! Today we’ll learn about prose.”

“Huh?” snorted a girl in the second row. Looking around, Ms. Sneed could see that other kids looked puzzled too.

“Maybe it’s a new word, but this is nothing new to you. Prose is just writing in sentences and paragraphs.”

As their teacher launched into a formal explanation, the students leaned in. Funny, hearing the rules for something so familiar was sort of interesting.

  • Sentence – group of words that express a complete thought
  • Paragraph – sentences that are grouped together
  • Dialogue – words or sentences that quote what a person has said
  • Chapter – major division of a novel
Teach structural elements of prose with straightforward definitions: sentence, paragraph, dialogue, and chapter.
Are you feeling “pinspired”? Feel free to pin images from this post.


Ms. Sneed continued with drama, or plays. She pointed out each element of drama in a version of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

  • Cast of characters – list of characters in a play
  • Dialogue – words that tell the actors what to say
  • Stage directions – words that tell how the stage should look or what the actors should do
  • Setting – words that tell where and when a play takes place
  • Scenes – sections of the play with similar setting
  • Acts – major sections of a long play

“Can do a play?” a few kids asked. Ms. Sneed’s famous smile lit up her face, but she continued on.

Teach elements of drama, or plays, by defining and modeling cast of characters, dialogue, stage directions, setting, scene, and acts.


Soon Ms. Sneed moved on to poetry. After introducing the elements of poetry, things got active. The class counted verses and stanzas, clapped out the rhythm, and pinpointed the rhyming pattern.

  • Verse – one line of poetry
  • Stanza – group of verses
  • Rhythm – beats or accented syllables
  • Meter – patterns of beats or accented syllables
  • Rhyme – syllables that sound similar
Teach these elements of poetry: verse, stanza, rhythm, meter, and rhyme.

Prose, Drama, and Poetry Terms

The following day, Ms. Sneed distributed a prose, drama, and poetry reference guide. “You can use this page to help you remember the elements of literature,” she said.

Poetry Drama and Prose Reference Guide

Practice Discriminating Between Prose, Plays, and Poems

As she distributed a practice page, she explained what to do. “This excerpt has been written in a mixture of poetry, drama, and prose,” Ms. Sneed said. “You will identify the form of literature in the blank area to the right. Then explain why you chose that form. Use arrows to show the section of text you’re talking about.”

Kids practice discriminating between prose, drama, and poetry with a passage written with mixed forms of literature.

Enjoy Teaching Prose, Drama, and Poetry

Ms. Sneed found the practice to be quick and easy – once kids knew what they were looking for. Wow, teaching prose, drama, and poetry was a fun addition to the ELA block.

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