Activity Overview

When teaching poetry, it is often helpful to front-load poetry terms as an introduction, or refresher, for your students. “Metaphor”, “simile”, “stanza”, “alliteration”, “personification”, “rhyme scheme”, and “onomatopoeia” are a few common terms that might be helpful.

After you have read the poem, ask your students to create a scavenger hunt using the storyboard creator. Give them the list of terms again, and have them create a storyboard that depicts and explains the use of each literary element in the poem. They will have an absolute blast and master the words as they do.

Literary Elements Dickinson Uses

Personification Giving human-like characteristics to non-human objects or abstract ideas "Death…He kindly stopped for me - " Making Death seem like a person, stopping to pick her up.
Alliteration Repetition of consonant sounds at the beginnings of words in a sentence or line "Dews” & “Drew”, “Gossamer” & “Gown”, “Tippet” & “Tulle"
End Rhyme Words at the end of a line that rhyme with words at the end of other lines. "me” & “Immortality”
Metaphor An implied comparison between two things In the poem, Dickinson states that they pass the “Setting Sun”. This is a common symbol to describe the end of a person’s life.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that shows four examples of literary elements in "Because I Could Not Stop for Death".

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Identify use of literary elements in the text.
  3. Put the type of literary element in the title box.
  4. Give an example from the text in the description box.
  5. Illustrate the example using using a combination of scenes, characters, and items.

Lesson Plan Reference


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

Literary Elements Rubric
Create a storyboard that shows different literary elements from the story.
Proficient Emerging Beginning
Identification of Literary Elements
All literary elements are correctly identified.
Most literary elements are correctly identified.
Few literary elements are correctly identified.
Illustrations show attention to the details of the story and demonstrate connection to the literary elements.
Illustrations demonstrate connection to the literary elements.
Illustrations show little connection to the literary elements.
Description of Literary Elements
Descriptions clearly explain what the literary elements do to enhance the story.
Most descriptions tell what the literary elements do to enhance the story.
Descriptions are unrelated to the literary elements.
Spelling and Grammar
Spelling and grammar is mostly accurate. Mistakes do not get in the way of understanding.
Spelling is very inaccurate and hinders full understanding.
Text is very difficult to understand.

How To Explain the Concept of Personification To Younger Students


Give Simple Explanations

Explain to the students right away what personification is and how it occurs when non-human entities or objects are given human characteristics. Making a flower "dance" in the wind, for instance, or claiming the sun "smiles." It is a simple concept that can be explained in many interesting ways.


Use Common Examples

Give a few clear, concrete personification instances. For instance, "The sky cried through the night" or "The stars made fun of the Moon." Teachers can also give examples from children’s cartoons where this concept is widely used. For example, in the movie “The Beauty and the Beast”, inanimate objects like candles and cupboards are speaking and showing human like traits.


Play an Interesting Game

Show the students a picture or personify an object or animal while describing it to the class. Ask them to make a guess. As in, "The tall and fragrant friend who burns itself to show the light." (Response: a candle). Teachers can use multiple riddles to help students get a gist of the concept.


Apply the Concept

Once the students are already well aware of the concept, ask them to use it in creative writing or describe different still objects using personification in their own sentences. For instance, all the objects in the class such as tables, chairs, markers, pencils, pens, etc.


Give Practice

Teachers can give students assignments or practice at home to reinforce the concept. Exercising the brain to guess the objects also encourages critical thinking and creativity.

Frequently Asked Questions About Literary Elements in "Because I Could Not Stop for Death"

What kind of imagery did the author utilize in the poem?

Dickinson describes the events that took place during the carriage journey with Death using vivid imagery. Examples of such elements are "Gazing Grain," "Setting Sun," and "Dew," which let the reader have a visual and visceral experience. Students can reflect on the impact of this imagery on the minds of readers and their feelings regarding death before and after reading the poem.

What does the personification of Death in “Because I Could Not Stop For Death” entail?

The speaker's portrayal of Death as a gentleman who graciously pauses for him gives a fresh viewpoint. It humanizes death as a buddy, implying a kind and patient attitude as opposed to a frightened or hasty one. It also gives readers a sense that death is not scary rather it's something that will guide you towards the afterlife or eternity.

Does the poem include any instances of symbolism?

There are many instances of symbolism. Each stop on the carriage ride represents a distinct stage of life, illustrating the journey from life to death. The school represents youth and the passage of time.

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