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FREE Resources  //  Beyond acrostics

Despite the undoubted popularity of Acrostics, variations of the form (useful for both classroom differentiation of the writing activity and as extension / ‘follow-up’ lessons) are less frequently utilised. The range of related forms consist of:

  • Hidden Acrostics
  • The Telestich
  • Tele-Acros

The simplest of these is the Hidden Acrostic. The teacher begins by sharing an Acrostic with the class (or indeed collaboratively writing one!) The following example may be used as a model -

‘Food’ Acrostic
Fried food is fine tasting
Old fashioned fish and chips
Oh, how they make my mouth water -
Delicious cod in a nice crisp batter.

The theme word, Food, is discussed after which the teacher explains that it can be hidden anywhere in the line following the rule that it must be hidden in the same place on each line. To avoid confusion this is best explained by sharing an example -

‘Food’ Hidden Acrostic
Often fried food tastes fine
Long ago fish and chips were wrapped in newspaper
Too many years have passed since I ate such a supper
Edible meals are OK but delicious ones are better!

Here the theme word, food, is hidden as the second letter of each line. More complex than the pure Acrostic, Hidden Acrostics represent a way of differentiating the form for more able members of the group/class.

Once the ‘Hidden Acrostic’ has been grasped, pupils are ready to write a Telestich in which the theme word is written vertically, at the end rather than the start of the line-

‘Food’ Telestich
If food passes its ‘sell-by’ date it can go off
Food left too long in the sun does this too
Quite a problem in the days before freezers, long ago
When spices disguised the taste of meat that had already gone bad

The most complex variation of the Acrostic is, however, the ‘Tele-Acro’ in which the theme word must appear at both the start and end of each line, thus,

‘Food’ Tele-Acro
Food which is malodorous has usually gone off
Only fit for the bin, which is where it should go
Old, mouldy and rotten foodstuffs can be so
Disgusting in their appearance that they make you feel bad

As this is a difficult form it is worth encouraging pupils to work collaboratively on it. An additional teaching strategy which improves the end result is to ask pupils to begin by listing as many words as they can think of (or find in a dictionary) which begin and end with the letters of their ‘Theme Word.’ These can then be used in the poem itself. It is also worth explaining the concept of enjambment (run-on-line : see the penultimate line of the Tele Acro above) as its use makes the form more manageable).

When written in lessons other than the Literacy Hour, Acrostics and each of the variations on the form, can provide a focus for information retrieval work, e.g. writing about ‘The Tudors’ by producing a ‘Tudor’ Acrostic. A selection of books related to the subject are provided and an opportunity to reinforce information retrieval skills such as the use of an Index and Glossary (reminding pupils that words which are capitalised or emboldened in the main body of the text can be found in the Glossary!) should be seized upon. The writing of an Acrostic, Hidden Acrostic, Telestich or Tele-Acro as an end product provides both purpose and focus for the research.

The ‘Hidden Acrostic’ can even be used to embed an understanding of verbs and adverbs (etc) by setting challenges such as:-

  • Can you hide an Acrostic in the first letter of the adverb used in each line?
  • Can you hide an Acrostic in the last letter of the word before the verb in each line? etc.

When such a plethora of exciting learning opportunities exist by varying the Acrostic form, it can only be beneficial to explore possibilities afforded by the Hidden Acrostic, Telestich and Tele-Acro!