ALEX Lesson Plan


What Next? There’s a Hoarder Living Next Door!

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Shonterrius Lawson-Fountain
System: Midfield City
School: Midfield City Board Of Education
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 33218


What Next? There’s a Hoarder Living Next Door!


This interactive lesson provides students with an opportunity to evaluate how the use of language and wordplay emphasize the theme presented in Shel Silverstein’s humorous poem, "Sarah Cynthia Silvia Stout, Wouldn’t Take the Garbage Out." Students will closely read the poem and explain how the use of alliteration, hyperbole, and strong imagery assist in revealing the tone, characters, and theme. By the end of the lesson, students will have a conceptual knowledge of the distinction between alliteration and hyperbole and be able to identify explicit examples from the text. 

This is a College- and Career-Ready Standards showcase lesson plan.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
ELA2015 (6)
1. Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text. [RL.6.1]
ELA2015 (6)
2. Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments. [RL.6.2]
ELA2015 (6)
3. Describe how a particular story's or drama's plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution. [RL.6.3]
ELA2015 (6)
4. Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone. [RL.6.4]
ELA2015 (6)
32. Interpret information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how it contributes to a topic, text, or issue under study. [SL.6.2]
ELA2015 (6)
35. Include multimedia components (e.g., graphics, images, music, sound) and visual displays in presentations to clarify information. [SL.6.5]
ELA2015 (7)
1. Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text. [RL.7.1]
ELA2015 (7)
2. Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text. [RL.7.2]
ELA2015 (7)
3. Analyze how particular elements of a story or drama interact (e.g., how setting shapes the characters or plot). [RL.7.3]
ELA2015 (7)
4. Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of rhymes and other repetitions of sounds (e.g., alliteration) on a specific verse or stanza of a poem or section of a story or drama. [RL.7.4]
ELA2015 (7)
7. Compare and contrast a written story, drama, or poem to its audio, filmed, staged, or multimedia version, analyzing the effects of techniques unique to each medium (e.g., lighting, sound, color, or camera focus and angles in a film). [RL.7.7]

Local/National Standards:

  1. Students read a wide range of print and non-print texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  2. 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).
  3. Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and non-print texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
  4. 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.
  5. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Primary Learning Objective(s):

I can differentiate alliteration from hyperbole.

I can identify and explain how the author develops the theme.

I can compare and contrast the audio and written versions of the poem to show how each presentation medium emphasizes the theme and creates images.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

I can identify and explain cause and effect relationships.

I can identify the tone.

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

61 to 90 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Pen/pencil, paper, markers, crayons, colored pencils, blank copy paper, chart paper, chunked copy of the poem 

Technology Resources Needed:

Computer, Internet access, projector 



Should have display sentences already written on chart paper, board, or typed in program for physical posting or display.

Check website links to ensure that they are ready for viewing.

Have handouts ready for distribution.

Needs to have the cubes constructed before class for student use.


Students should understand the basic structure of poetry e.g., lines and stanza versus paragraphs.

Students should be able to identify the rhyme scheme.

Students understand what STEAL represents.

Students understand the distinction between indirect and direct characterization.


Days 1-2


1. Students will begin class by playing a game of charades. The teacher will give three random students an index card that contains a scenario about household chores that they will bring to life. The scenarios are cleaning the room, washing the dishes, and taking out the trash. Students can use anything in the room as a prop, but cannot use any verbal clues. As students act out the scenes, their peers must guess the situation. After the game, poll the class to see which chore is dreaded the most. 

2. Now, tell students that today they are going to meet a girl who may share some of their sentiments about the frequency of completing household chores. However, before introducing students to the poem, allow them to meet the author using the profile found on

3. As they read the profile on the screen, ask them to cite evidence in response to the following questions concerning Shel Silverstein.

  • Who is his typical audience?
  • Does he have a particular style?
  • Is writing his first love or did something push him towards it?

4. Preview the poem by reading the first five lines. Is it lyric or narrative? Students should suggest that it is narrative.

Content specific vocabulary instruction

5. Display the following sentence on the board or chart paper:

Peter Piper picked a perfect pepper that was so heavy that when it fell from the vine it cracked the ground below.

What do you notice about the beginning of the sentence? Solicit student responses. They should mention the repetition of similar sounds. How many pounds are in a ton? [2000 lbs.] Allow wait time for a response. Therefore, what can we infer about the pepper? [It is oversized, gigantic, and record-breaking in size.]

6. Use this along with the title and “Yo Mama jokes” to “show” students that alliteration creates sound and hyperbole images. (Example: Yo Mama joke - "Yo momma so black that when she goes at night she has to blink so that we know she is present.")

7. Quick Write - What would you do if you lived in the house with someone who never threw anything away or cleaned up?

8. Predict the outcome and theme. Record it on your paper.

9. Next, distribute the chunked copy of the poem. Tell the students this time they will read the poem independently and annotate it using the provided codes. Copy the codes down for students to reference.

Coding during reading:

  • Circle repeated words
  • Place a star beside any lines that suggest there is presence of a cause and effect relationship
  • Place a small square box in front of the lines that contain alliteration
  • Underline the words that rhyme

[Audiovisual Version]

10. Allow students to listen to the audio version again, but this time along with a copy of the text in front of them. At the conclusion of each chunk pause the audio clip to allow time for analysis and discussion using the following questions as prompts.

Students should cite text evidence in support of all responses. The teacher should use equity in soliciting responses to questioning so that all students participate. You can achieve equity in question by assigning each student a number and instructing them to be prepared to give a response when their number is called. This ensures that no one student or group dominates the discussion.

Chunk #1

Is the situation realistic? Allow students to turn and talk to their right shoulder partner about their response.

Identify the tone. Which words support your claim? Are the connotations mainly positive or negative?

Chunk #2

How does he depict the severity of the situation? [Identify the literary device(s).]

Chunk #3

Is there a cause and effect relationship present? Are any clue words noticeable?

Chunk #4

  1. What is the overall tone of the poem? How does the author establish this? Are the connotations mainly positive or negative?
  2. Does the tone remain constant or shift? Explain.
  3. What is her most logical “awful fate”?

Focus on sound devices

  1. Is there sound present? What creates it? [Students should discuss his rhythmic pattern and use of alliteration.]
  2. How did the speaker in the audio version bring the poem to life? [Elevated voice, stretched out words to add emphasis]

Focus on style

  1. Who is the targeted or intended audience? How do you know?
  2. Look at the connotations and frequency of his use of figurative language. Is this appropriate for the intended audience, topic? Does it emphasize or detract from the theme?
  3. Is there recognizable text structure present in the poem e.g., chronological, sequential, order of importance, etc.? How does knowing his writing style help you understand the poem and the word choice?
  4. Can you relate to the situation discussed in this poem? Does it remind you of something or someone? [Students may suggest the television show Hoarders, a garbage dump, etc.]
  5. What is the effect of him explicitly stating the theme when it is readily implied from Sarah’s actions? [added effect, emphasize the importance of completing this simple task]
  6. Can you identify any strong verbs, vivid adjectives, and precise nouns?
  7. What is the effect of his use of vivid descriptions? [creates emphasis, imagery gives the poem life]
  8. Does he STEAL or direct? [identifying characterization]

[EXPLANATION OF STEAL] STEAL is a mnemonic that assists students in understanding the method of indirect characterization.

                S-things they say


                E-effect other characters have on them



Focus on meaning

  1. How does he use Sarah and the reaction to her defiance to reveal the theme?
  2. Is the advice given?
  3. Why do you think he left her fate open for interpretation?
  4. What does the reaction of her father, friends, and neighbors suggest?

Closing: Turn and Talk

Turn and talk in your groups and discuss three of the most vivid lines and explain your reasoning. Allow each member one minute to speak until all members have shared their thoughts. Then allow for open discussion among members of the group.

Exit Slip: Written Response to the following that cite explicit text evidence - Would the poem have the same effect on you as the reader if written from the perspective of the child, Sarah Cynthia Silvia Stout?

Day 3:


11. Conduct a review of alliteration, hyperbole, and imagery using cubes.

12. Allow students to work in groups to cite specific lines that contain alliteration, hyperbole, and imagery using the cubes. (See the attachments for the completed cubes.)

Creative Extension:

Is there more to a color than what meets the eye? Present the color wheel to students and ask them to select colors that best represent the mood and tone in the poem. Use the colors you select in your illustration of the poem.

[Understanding the meaning of color]

Task: [30 minutes]

  1. Go over the meaning of color. [You may still choose to have color wheels printed for students to reference.]
  2. Create an illustration that best represents the setting in the poem. [Student visuals should show a house filled and beyond with stuff, or reveal the transition in more than one image.]
  3. Allow students to color their image but ask them to choose the colors effectively to keep in line with the tone


13. Allow students to watch the audio version of the poem.

14. After watching the video, allow them time to think and respond in writing to the following prompt.

15. Did the creator of this video provide an accurate representation of the images it conveyed? Provide examples from what you observed in the presentation of the short film. After about three minutes use equity to solicit student feedback.

Exit Slip - Does your image mirror what you observe? Explain

**Some files will display in a new window. Others will prompt you to download.

Assessment Strategies

Summative Assessment:

On-demand Writing Assessment

R - Editor critiquing Shel Silverstein’s writing style

Audience - General public

Form - expository essay

Topic: Does Shel Silverstein weave a tale of mystery or take you on a scenic route through his portrayal of Sarah Cynthia Silvia Stout? Reflect on our discussions, your artwork, and the guiding questions below. Be sure to show, and not tell.

Guiding questions:

  • Is Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout a hoarder? If you think she is, or is not, support your position with at least three details from the text.
  • If Silverstein had written this poem without the use of hyperbole and strong images, would you still be able to understand its meaning?

Evaluation: Turn the Checklist into a rating scale

Setup Checklist: [Students will need to compose at least three paragraphs.]

  • Hook your audience.
  • Mention a note about his style.
  • Summarize the plot.
  • Describe Sarah (Did he S.T.E.A.L.? If so, discuss its effect on your interpretation).
  • State your position on the topic.
  • Support it.
  • Address any opposition. Show how your position is the most logical response.
  • Conclude by addressing his use of hyperbole and strong imagery albeit effective or not, to connect back to your position. 
  • Final line - present a call to action for current or potential readers.


You may create a gallery walk or bulletin board for students to display their artwork. 


You may wish to use the Defining Characterization Resources found on readdress characterization.

To assess whether or not students have a conceptual understanding, have them identify the type of characterization used in Little Red Riding Hood for the Fox, Cinderella, or you may wish to use Aesop’s fables. These text types are great for quick assessments because of the length. 

Each area below is a direct link to general teaching strategies/classroom accommodations for students with identified learning and/or behavior problems such as: reading or math performance below grade level; test or classroom assignments/quizzes at a failing level; failure to complete assignments independently; difficulty with short-term memory, abstract concepts, staying on task, or following directions; poor peer interaction or temper tantrums, and other learning or behavior problems.

Presentation of Material Environment
Time Demands Materials
Attention Using Groups and Peers
Assisting the Reluctant Starter Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior
Be sure to check the student's IEP for specific accommodations.