Winter Poetry Warm Up, Part 1: Writing Cold-Weather Cherita Poems

When those cold winter winds start to blow, cozy up with some poetry. One of my favorite forms to use to warm students up to winter poetry writing is the cherita. 

A cherita is a three-stanza poem that tells a simple story. I like to explain the stanza break down in this way:
  • The first stanza is one line long. This stanza introduces the setting. 
  • The second stanza is two lines long. This stanza describes what happens. 
  • The third stanza is three lines long. This stanza concludes and reflects on the topic.
The cherita form provides a simple scaffolding on which students can hang their ideas.  The three stanzas in cheritas designate a beginning, middle, and end. This structure helps reinforce the literacy skill of providing a clear event sequences (CCSS.ELA.LITERACY.W.2-5.3) Also, similar to haiku, cheritas only use a few words per line. (Although,  unlike haiku, cheritas don't require a strict syllable count.)  Because cheritas tell a story in six brief lines, they force students to be concise and precise with their word choice. 

I introduce the cherita form by sharing this winter cherita I wrote about warming up with hot cocoa after playing in the snow:
Then I invite the class to write their own winter cheritas.
Here are the steps: 

1. Collaboratively, create a list of winter activities. 
2. Ask students to select one as the topic for their own cherita. 
3. On a blank piece of paper, students brainstorm a list of details to describe their activity. 
  •    Encourage students to include plenty of sensory details. 
  •    What sights, sounds, smells and tastes go with this winter activity? 
4. Once students have 8-10 details written down, hand out a winter cherita template. (You can download the template HERE.
5. Ask students to think about how they would tell a simple story about their activity. 
6. Choosing the best details from their brainstorm, students follow these directions (which are also included on the template) to write their cheritas: 

    • The first stanza is one line. Introduce the setting on this line. 
     • The second stanza is two lines. Describe what happens during the activity on these lines. 
     • The third stanza is three lines. Conclude the activity and explain how it makes you feel on these lines.

Once students finish their cheritas, they can cut out the snowflake templates and hang them by strings from the ceiling, or a tree, or mantel for a flurry of poetry decorations.

Winter cheritas are fun, quick way to bring some poetry warmth to chilly winter days!

Want more winter poetry warmth? Stay tuned for my next post, where I share my favorite winter-themed children's poetry collections.

About Michelle Schaub

Michelle Schaub is a language arts teacher and award-winning children's poet. She is the author of the picture book poetry collections Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmers’ Market, (which won the 2018 Growing Good Kids Award and 2019 Northern Lights Book Award,) and Finding Treasure: A Collection of Collections. She is also the author of two picture books in verse, the bedtime STEM book Dream Big, Little Scientists and Kindness is a Kite String: The Uplifting Power of Empathy. Her poems appear in several anthologies, including The Poetry Anthology for Celebrations and Great Morning! Poems for School Leaders to Read Aloud.  Michelle loves visiting schools and speaking at conferences on the power of poetry to boost literacy. Find out more at: