I like to use this activity to introduce poetry into the classroom and to raise learners' awareness of the beauty and fun to be had with poetry. It can also be used to practise learners' pronunciation.

Gap fill poems - activity

I chose a poem titled ‘I wish my husband were online'. I chose this as it contains a number of rhyming couplets. It is available free from the following website http://freepoemsonline.blogspot.com/2008/02/i-wish-my-husband-were-online.html.


  • Choose a suitable poem. One that contains some rhyming couplets is ideal. The level and age of your learners will determine the type and length of poem you will be choosing.
  • Take out some of the rhyming couplets and write these words on a piece of card. Cut up the words so one word is on a separate piece.
  • Retype the words of the poem so it contains gaps where the rhyming couplets were.
  • If you want to do this as a listening activity you could record the poem in advance.


  • Make students aware of rhyming and what ‘to rhyme' means. Give and elicit examples. Write these on the board. Encourage learners to rhyme things with their name or hometown etc to personalise the activity.
  • Give each student one of the cut-up words.
  • Students walk around and find their partner. This would be the person with a word that rhymes with theirs.
  • After they have found their partner they can write the words on the board. Make sure they write the words in pairs.
  • Give out the poem. Learners use the words on the board to fill in the gaps.
  • Learners listen and check.
  • Learners could then recite the poem to each other in groups.


  • Learners could make a list of words that rhyme with the couplets
  • You could have learners add their own words to the poem to create a new poem.
  • You could use the poem as a springboard for discussion.

Written by Derek Spafford

First published in August 2008

Language Level


Submitted by aliciaorri on Wed, 12/16/2009 - 15:55


working with sounds is very important for students and when we have the opportunity of introducing material that they are not in contact with every day like poems it becames a pleasant experience for the teacher and the Ss.


Submitted by Derek Spafford on Fri, 01/08/2010 - 08:51

In reply to by aliciaorri


Many thanks for you comments about my activity, I fully agree with what you say. What level do you use poems with. Is it with children or adults or both?

Submitted by jvl narasimha rao on Sat, 01/09/2010 - 15:04

In reply to by Derek Spafford


Dear Mr Derek Spafford,

Thank you very much for restoring the broken link between British council and me. I was really disheartened at my poem Jesus Christ the saviour not published for Christmas. Thanks a lot for your appreciation of my poem "the typical Indian railway journey. I think that your activity will work at any level, though I have tried it at secondary level. Rhyme and rhythm is the breath and soul of poetry. So your activity will surely suit to any level, anywhere across the world. Because of your Activity' gap fill poems 'I have an access to ANNAS blog which will surely help me in my Poetic venture. I hope My poem Jesus Christ the saviour will be published there.

With kind regards,

Yours sincerely,


Submitted by jvl narasimha rao on Thu, 12/17/2009 - 02:25


Dear Derek spafford,

                                I find this activity very interesting for anyoneone at any age level.It will improve the creative skills of those who are trying to fill in the gaps and addin lines to the couplet.I am really fond of couplets and rhymes.I request you to read my poems written as my blogs in this online journal by british council.

I am looking forward to your comments on my poems.

yours sincerely,


Thanks for your comments. I'm glad you enjoyed the activity. I read the poems on your blog and enjoyed the one about the railway journey. It was very evocative. I would love to visit India as its a country that fascinates me and shares my passion for cricket. Maybe one day I will have the chance. 

All the best


Dear Mr Spafford,

I am proud of being an Indian English teacher.I am really delighted that You would love to visit India.I hope you will Come to India and watch a cricket match in Eden Gardens between India and Pakistan.

Looking forward to your journey to India very soon.

with kind regards,


Thanks for your comments

If I do visit India I will be sure to let you know. Eden Gardens, India V Pakistan would be a dream. I can't imagine what the atmosphere would be like

Best wishes


Submitted by VioletS on Thu, 03/18/2010 - 12:14


It is a great idea. This kind of activity has a lot of advantages. It will improve the students' pronunciation, they will easily remember a lot of new words and they will have a chance to write their own lines. The only shortage is the time. It seems to me it takes a lot of time. As for me I use short videos in teaching.  On the one hand they increase interest in the subject and on the other hand they help to develop auditive and speaking skills.

Submitted by anisamuca on Sat, 03/12/2011 - 10:19


Since nowadays students are no longer interested in literature this might be one of the ways involving them during the class, and maybe gives them the opportunity to create poems themselves, who knows! thank you for your advice!

Submitted by arg75 on Thu, 09/05/2013 - 03:50


The activity saved my day. I was looking for a topic so interesting as this. Greetings from Bogota, Colombia.

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