Language Arts

14 Words for Love can fit into an exiting poetry, creative writing, or vocabulary curriculum.

Vocabulary: What is an aphorism? How does it differ from an adage, epigram, adage, idiom? Assignment: if you were to write your own aphorism, what would it be about? How could you distill your answer into 14 words that would help others or make them smile?

Poetry: Explore free verse and end (or start) the unit asking students to write a 14- word poem.

  • Idea generators: Pass out "prompt" cards to get them thinking about different cultures, living in a war-torn country, being a refugee, losing someone to gun violence, not being accepted by one's family for reasons of being too different. Other types of prompts can be a single word passed out on a small card, randomly chosen by each student. Photo images, drawings, or graphic art on small cards (without words) can also be powerful prompts.
  • For more advanced classes, ask students to re-write their haikus into 14 word poems. (This yields more ways of creative thinking, expression, due to the words, not syllables, that count.

Creative Writing: what's the difference between a prose poem and a poem? Flash fiction and a short-short story? Whether a longer poem or prose piece, invite your students to include at least one 14 word line that shines. A line (or two) that could stand alone. This is a good way to tie-in holidays like MLK Day, Valentine's Day (focus on community love and inclusiveness), or One Day Peace in September.


Discuss famous scientists or doctors who were influenced by the arts (Poet William Carlos Williams was a dedicated physician). Albert Einstein wrote aphorisms like "Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere." Students can write their own aphorism or a 14-word thank you to Zia Mian, Mae Jemison, or Sabrina González Pasterski (touted as the next Albert Einstein) or another scientist who has made or is working to make our lives better.

History / Social Studies

In every governmental change, coup, war or acquisition, there's a fight for resources and usually life itself. Ask students to use their empathic skills along with their knowledge of events to write 14 word poems, stories or aphorisms in the voice of historic figures or fictional voices that were silenced by laws, imprisonment or genocide. For current events: Whose voices are being silenced in the world? What might they want to say if they could?


What can students draw or create with 14 lines? 14 hearts? What happens when students change perspective on a piece of work? (Literally place students in different locations to observe a 3-dimensional piece of art.) Ask students to "package" a 14-word poem or aphorism in their chosen medium or material(s). Collages work really well with text and image enriching each other.



Ask students to prepare a budget for someone (single or family) who has a minimum wage job. This can be done solo or in small groups to research averages of rent, food, health care, transportation and taxes. Add the birth of a child (how much diapers, food, healthy baby visits cost). Have them summarize their findings or reflections in 14 words. Share with the class or with the school.