Lesson Plans Lesson Plans

Longfellow Studies: "The Poet's Tale - The Birds of Killingworth"

Gail Roller, Biddeford Public Schools, York County


6-8, 9-12

  • English Language Arts -- Reading
  • Science & Engineering -- Life Sciences
  • Social Studies -- History

2-4 days

  • 1775-1850
  • 1851-1920
  • Arts

This poem is one of the numerous tales in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Tales of the Wayside Inn. The collection was published in three parts between 1863 and 1873. This series of long narrative poems were written by Longfellow during the most difficult personal time of his life. While mourning the tragic death of his second wife (Fanny Appleton Longfellow) he produced this ambitious undertaking. During this same period he translated Dante's Inferno from Italian to English. "The Poet's Tale" is a humorous poem with a strong environmental message which reflects Longfellow's Unitarian outlook on life.

  • This lesson was developed for seventh graders.
  • The lesson plan can stand on their own or can be integrated into language arts, social studies or even a science curriculum.
  • The objectives and activities are suggested as a starting point. It is my hope that after teachers and students are exposed to this sampling of Longfellow's poetry they will be motivated to read and study more of his works.

Teachers should feel free to adapt and use this plan to suit their needs.

Download Lesson Plan

A resource developed through the "Longfellow & the Forging of American Identity" program funded by NEH