Writing Poetry

writing poetryI think I may have programmed my children to be poets.  I often speak to them in rhyme.  I am also known to sing them opera-ish canticles of directives just to hear them laugh.  But the speaking in rhyme I inadvertently started when they were born.  It probably started with this nursery rhyme about Bear I invented.  N– Bear sits in her chair, in her underwear, with a bow in her hair, while eating a pear.  Nothing worthy of a poetry prize, but my daughter ate it up.  I followed it up with some french rhyme about une grenouille qui mange une nouille (a frog who eats a noodle).

I didn’t think Bear would like writing poetry.  But then I ordered Michael Clay Thompson’s Language Arts program – the Island level.  It has poetry writing assignments sprinkled throughout that Bear can’t wait to try.  You want to know my secret?


I do the assignments with her.

She sees me write and wants to try it, too.

Here are some of our poems:

sample poetry

I went for cute with the picture, and just realized some of the poems are hard to read.  The one by me is:
The bird reflects upon/the pond/ The fish returns once more. The bird returns upon/ the pond/ The fish reflects no more.  (We had to use “re” words.  It’s harder than it seems!)  Bear’s “re” poem is: A Red, Red Rose/ That Spring renews/returns/ a reverse from a winter doze.
Her small onomatopoeia poem: Splish, splash, splosh/ Goes the waterfall./ Don’t fall in/ Otherwise you’ll/ Get soaked./ Splish, Splash, Splosh/ Goes the waterfall.
Her larger onomatopoeia poem, which she wrote after I shared mine: Clipittey clop, clipitty clop,/ Goes five-and twenty horses/ Down the street/ Down the street./ Down to the/ Bakery goes/ Five-and twenty horses. (My onomatopoeia poem used clippety clop, but I have misplaced it.)

PicMonkey Collage

Our inspiration has been mainly our MCT language arts, but I have noticed her All About Spelling writing assignments becoming more poetic.

The key to children writing poetry is to teach them some figurative language.
Once they know figurative language, it will appear in their regular writing (and maybe even in their speech – see my homeschool moment at the bottom of the post).
Ultimately, my goal is not that Bear be a poetess, but for her to be poetic in her everyday writing.

To make this easy for you, because we all love easy, here are the main, most helpful terms to know for an elementary aged child:

simile, metaphor, alliteration, assonance, consonance, and onomatopoeia.

So, now that you have this list, what to do?

Some (fairly simple) writing assignments:

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1. A simile is a comparison using “like” or “as”.  Read the book Quick As a Cricket to illustrate a simile.  Have the children pick something and compare it to another thing using a simile.  Do more than one.  Join in and write one, too.

2. A metaphor is a figure of speech that says that one thing is another different thing.  These can be a bit more challenging to write, especially for children.  Try some with your kids.
Here’s an example: “The rain came down in long knitting needles.” – National Velvet by Enid Bagnold

3. Onomatopoeia is a mouthful, but it is a word that imitates the sound that it represents.  Splash, quack, moo, bang, clang.  The MCT assignment for onomatopoeia was to think of an object or animal and their associated noises and write a few lines using those onomatopoeia words. My Mouth Is a Volcano! is one picture book that not only has plenty of onomatopoeia words in it, but includes a metaphor throughout the whole book.

4. Alliteration is when words close together start with the same sound.  Alliteration is so easy to use in a writing project.  My favorite assignment for my third graders was to have them choose a letter of the alphabet and write a sentence that used mostly words that started with that letter.  “A happy hen hurried home,” for example.  

5. Assonance and consonance are the repeated vowel (assonance) or consonant (consonance) sounds in the middle of words.  For example: The rock wrecked Craig’s skiff.  Or, The rain drained into the tray I left outside.  Try to write a sentence that uses assonance or consonance. If you have any of the Sheep in a Jeep titles (by Nancy Shaw), these are replete with alliteration, assonance, and consonance.  Come to think of it, they also have onomatopoeia.  Most libraries have them.

Writing Poetry Homeschool Moment: Bear was super angry with her brother on Wednesday while I was busily adding to this post.  She comes storming to me and spouts, “The fuming rage of fire burns bright in my body!” with clenched teeth and red face.

And because I wasn’t done talking about poetry, I have a bonus post (How NOT to Neglect Poetry – tips to make sure poetry gets done) all ready for tomorrow.

This is Day 5 of Five Days of Sharing Poetry with your Kids. Read the introDay 1Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4 if you haven’t already.