The Valiha-A to Z poem

Teaching camps at the Duke Lemur Center has taught me so many things.  After teaching a long list of lessons about lemurs for 3 years, we decided to spend our 4th year focusing more on Madagascar, the only place where lemurs live in the wild.

*This post contains affiliate links.  For more information, see my disclosures here.*

The Valiha

A famous musical instrument played in Madagascar is called the valiha.  For the lesson, I printed images of a valiha, so the children could see what one looked like.  I also played music from a youtube video so they could hear what it sounded like.

Then, we wrote an A-Z descriptive poem about it!

This is a fairly quick lesson and a lot of fun.

Setting Up the Lesson:

First, write the letters A to Z in two columns on the whiteboard, like this:

Have the children write their own two columns of letters.  This can be tricky.  Teach them to write the first column next to the left line. The second column should start in the middle of the paper, so it looks like this:

Print the Template

If you don’t have much time to work with, or you are working with younger children, I suggest using the template that already has the letters typed in.  Here they are!  Grades K-2 A to Z and Grades 2-7 A to Z

Work Together

Before the children start writing, we work together as a group to fill the letters B-Z.  Campers can use some of the words that we write together and add words of their own.  They only need to write one word per letter.


I learned the word XANTHOUS in the process of completing the Leopard-A to Z poem and decided it could be used to describe a Valiha as well.  XANTHOUS means yellowish, or marked by yellow coloration.  The golden markings on a valiha are yellowish.  The kids loved the new word!


  1.  First, leave the letter A blank.
  2. Second, fill the letters B-Z with adjectives that describe the valiha.
  3. Third, under the letter Z, campers write the word valiha.  They can write the word VALIHA large, all capital letters, use markers or even ABC stickers*, however they want it to look!
Here are two examples of a completed poem:


Print the Lesson

Here’s the full lesson for you to print out and use as well as the two samples for you to print and hang.

This prompt can be used with ANY animal or noun.   We used this same format for the Leopard-A to Z poem and a similar format for our Valued Person-A to Z poem.


Word Scramblers (Scramble adjectives.  Here’s a list of adjectives to scramble)

One Adjective-Many nouns

3 Nouns-1 Adjective

*All background knowledge and information needed for this prompt came from the staff and tour at the Duke Lemur Center.  Also, a shout out thanks to Charles Welch from the DLC for providing the photo of the Valiha!*