Shop  |  Calendar  |  Join  |  Buy Tickets  |  Hamnet  |  Site Rental  |  Press Room  
About UsWhat's OnUse the CollectionDiscover ShakespeareTeach & LearnFolger InstituteSupport Us
Teaching Resources
• Teaching Modules
Teaching Modules Archive

   Sign up for E-news!
   Printer Friendly

"My ___ is nothing like ___" Sonnet 130 and Building a Poem

Teachers' Rating:
  5 ratings

Shakespeare. The Songs and Sonnets of William Shakespeare. London, 1915

November 2011

Dr. Barbara Cobb is the Associate Professor, English and Education Coordinator, Murray Shakespeare Festival at Murray State University, Kentucky


Plays/Scenes Covered
Sonnet 130
What's On for Today and Why

This lesson explores Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130.


Students will recognize the way that Shakespeare uses contrast to describe the speaker’s “mistress” in the poem and to explain why she is “rare” or uniquely beautiful.  


The lesson covers parts of speech, as well as imagery terms: visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, tactile, organic, kinesthetic.


This unit covers 4th Grade Common Core Standards for Reading Literature  1,2,4,5,6, Foundational Skills 3,4, Writing Standards 1,3, as well as a number of the Language standards.


This lesson may be completed in a 90-minute class period, with additional time allotted for revision and peer editing, or it may be divided into several shorter lessons.


What You Need


MySonnet 130

Sonnet 130 Lesson Plan Notes

Copies of Sonnet 130 Mad Libs form

Copies of Sonnet 130 Fill In Sheet


Sonnet 130, Folger Edition
Sonnet 130 Lesson Plan Notes
Sonnet 130 4th Grade Fill In
Sonnet 130 Mad libs Form
What To Do

1. Introduce the Sonnet: Explain what differentiates a sonnet from other forms of poetry. Read the sonnet, pausing between quatrains to break down the quatrains by asking the questions below.Throughout the reading, ask students to identify each image: visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, tactile, organic, kinesthetic.

  • First quatrain: Students should be encouraged to recognize the contrasts that the speaker makes in the first four lines. What does the subject of the poem look like? How do we know?
  • Second quatrain: What contrasts are made? What does the speaker say about the subject’s “cheeks” and “breath”?
  • Third quatrain: What contrasts are made? This is a good time to turn the conversation to stereotypes of beauty. What stereotypes does the speaker introduce? How does the speaker “explode” those stereotypes, or demonstrate the falsity of them? What is the speaker saying about the subject? 
  • Rhyming couplet: Have students define “rare” and “belied” using context clues. What is the speaker’s point?

 2. Explain that this poem is a blazon, a description of the subject referring to particular body parts.  How many parts are described? What comparisons are used? Review with the students the definiton of simile. Choose a few and play with other similes: His/her eyes are like what? Which similes create a positive image? Which similes create a negative image?


3. Students will move to a poetry-writing workshop. First they will work in teams on a “mad libs”-type activity, creating nonsense poems using Sonnet 130 as a template. Then they will use the same template to write their own contrast poems.


4.Divide students into groups of two or three. If needed, review the parts of speech included on the "mad-lib" word fill-in handout. Do NOT tell them that this activity is based on Sonnet 130! Have students fill in words.


5.Hand out the Sonnet 130 template with the blanks. Have the students fill in the blanks using their word fill-in handout. Have them read their “Mad-Libs”-type poems. Usually these are VERY funny. Ask them WHY the poems are funny.


6. Finally, give them another clean Sonnet 130 template. This time, ask them to choose a subject and to create a poem about that subject.  The goal is to choose words that will make this poem make sense! (Be flexible with the template - encourage them to make subtle changes to it as needed, in order to make their own poems make sense. Give them ownership of the form as they need it!)


Lesson Extensions

Try including a drawing exercise, in which students draw a creature and use similes to describe several of its parts. The creature could be an alien, a robot, or an imaginary pet!

How Did It Go?

Do students recognize the stereotypes of beauty that are often praised?


Do they recognize that most people do not fit these stereotypes, but are still wonderful?  


Was each student able to use contrasts to describe a subject?


Were students able to use parts of speech properly, both in the “Mad-Libs”-type exercise and in their own poems?



If you used this lesson, we would like to hear how it went and about any adaptations you made to suit the needs of YOUR students.

Login or register to post comments.

73 CommentsOldest | Newest

Markham Limo Rental It is just what I was looking for furthermore fully exhaustive as well. Acknowledges for posting this, I saw a duo additional synonymous advises however yours was the ultimate so wide. The insights are strongly
jack February 1, 2015 7:22 AM

you made to suit the needs of YOUR students. email marketing seminar
david February 1, 2015 5:35 AM

I wish to show thanks to you just for bailing me out of this particular trouble.As a result of checking through the the net and meeting techniques that were not productive, I was thinking my life was done. Field Staff Union Election
jak January 31, 2015 10:44 AM

hey if you are looking for club penguin membership code generator then go to the given link.
ac January 31, 2015 2:22 AM

this is a awesome place for heroes of the storm hack
ac January 31, 2015 2:21 AM

I'm going to read this. I'll be sure to come back. thanks for sharing. and also This article gives the light in which we can observe the reality. this is very nice one and gives indepth information. thanks for this nice article Urgent Care Parma
jak January 28, 2015 1:26 PM

Thanks so much with this fantastic new web site. I’m very fired up to show it to anyone. It makes me so satisfied your vast understanding and wisdom have a new channel for trying into the world. Male concealer
jak January 28, 2015 11:28 AM

independent escort in bangalore This is a fantastic website and I can not recommend you guys enough. I really appreciate your post. It is very helpful for all the people on the web.
jack January 26, 2015 8:45 AM

SEM company It was great to see the old printshop and everyone who works there again. I am excited to see a printing business still operating and growing, great job guys
jack January 26, 2015 5:27 AM

Carpet Stretching Champaign IL absolutely against the other minimal designs unique usually approach firmly about creating reputable scenarios any person, less likely might might be lots of
jack January 26, 2015 4:37 AM

View More
  Common Core State Standards

There are no standards associated with this Lesson Plan.
Additional Information

A Short History of the Sonnet

Why Teach Sonnets? An Overview

You might also like ...

Performing Sonnets

Writing a Group Sonnet

Bookmark and Share   
     Copyright & Policies   |   Sitemap   |   Contact Us   |   About This Site
201 East Capitol Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003
Get directions »

Federal Tax ID #04-2103542
PublicReading Room
10am to 5pm, Monday through Saturday8:45am to 4:45pm, Monday through Friday
12pm to 5pm, Sunday9am to noon and 1pm to 4:30pm, Saturday
Main: 202 544 4600
Box Office: 202 544 7077
Fax: 202 544 4623