People Interested in Zippy and ZAny Zcribbling

PIZZAZ has been an Online Resource since 1995 from Leslie Opp-Beckman
For Scribblers and Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)


Description for Up and Down Poems: Structured poems using a word or phrase in a top-to-bottom ("up and down") direction. Works well as follow up for a class event, activity, topic or related reading. Adapted with permission fromSylvia Helmer (TESL-L archives 12/1995).

ESOL student level:
These activities scale well to beginner through advanced level proficiency and can be used with all ages.

For more activities:
Return to PIZZAZ!

Warm-Up Activities

What is the theme or topic of this example up-and-down poem, and how do you know?

Horrible stuff,
cOmpletely disgusting, in fact!
Want to
gO and find a
"Real job"...
Nah, I don't thinK so!!


  1. Students can write individually, in pairs or in small groups to choose a word or phrase as the topic for the poem.

  2. Students then brainstorm related words (adjectives, adverbs, feeling words, power words, etc.).

  3. Write the word DOWN the middle of the page, (one letter per line, as in the example above).

  4. Fit words and phrases around the letters, using the brainstorm list to help.The idea is that each letter from the key word becomes incorporated into the word or phrase going across.

    Have students write the key word in all caps and big, perhaps even in color, so letters stand out and the key word can is easy to read.


  1. Write the word down the left side of the page, so that all the words and lines of the poem start with those letters.

  2. More difficult: write it down the right side of the page, so that all the words / lines of the poem end with those letters.

Follow-Up Activities (or Assessment)

  1. Students' work can be compiled into a class anthology or wall display.
  2. Students can illustrate poems with hand-drawn or computer-generated images.

© 2010, Leslie Opp-Beckman, Ph.D., Distance Education Coordinator and ESOL Instructor
Email: leslieob@uoregon.edu
URL: http://www.uoregon.edu/~leslieob/
5212 University of Oregon, Linguistics Department, American English Institute Eugene, Oregon 97403-5212 USA
Permission to copy and distribute for educational, non-profit use only.
This page last updated: 25 March 2010
University of Oregon