What it Must Have Felt Like

by Ada Limón

Photo by Lucas Marquardt

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: Contained

Step 1

Start by reading “What it Must Have Felt Like” by Ada Limón. In the poem, the speaker conveys her feelings about being “contained” by others, the feelings she has by be being bottled up and what it will feel like when she frees herself. Then discuss the language (both figurative and literal) she uses to describe her complex feelings.

Step 2

Say, “What are some things that you feel have been “muted” for far too long? Something that is just waiting to erupt and show its true self.” Give them time to discuss.

Step 3

Tell your students to choose one of the “things” in containment that they talked about as a group. Then have them come up with a list of adjectives that describe what it must feel like to be contained in that manner. Make sure that they also try to think what it would feel like once one has emerged from that containment.

Step 4

Ask your students to write a poem similar to “What it Must Have Felt Like” in which they discuss one’s feelings of “containment” and what it would feel like to break from such constraints.

Step 5

When the students are done, have them share their responses with one another.

The full presentation may be found HERE.

Analytical Lesson

Area of Focus: Figurative Language

Step 1

If your students are not familiar with the concept of “figurative language,” go through the introductory lesson.

Step 2

Open the following presentation and go through the first few slides with your students to introduce them to today’s concept of focus, an extended metaphor.

Step 3

When prompted, read the poem aloud, then go over the directions with them. In this lesson, the students will explore the various extensions of the central metaphor presented in the poem.

Step 4

Tell your students to open the following document, a Google Jamboard. Your students will have to make a copy of this document in order for them to work in it. Then give them time to work on the assignment.

Step 5

When your students are done, have your students share their responses and discuss the significance of the various extensions of the metaphor.

Step 6

If time permits, share the exemplar essay.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Figurative Language


  • Creativity / Imagination / Writing
  • History
  • Philosophy
  • Social Movements / Protest
  • Violence

Literary Tags

  • Diction
  • Figurative Language
  • Imagery
  • Sound Devices
  • Structure (Syntax)
  • Tone