National Poetry Week

It’s National Poetry Week this week, so why not take the opportunity to introduce your students to some different forms of poetry. I’ve got examples of poetry you can try across the various age groups. Once students have finished writing their poems, get them to ‘publish’ them by typing them up and mounting them on coloured card (and decorate with a border/illustrations).

Acrostic Poems

Acrostic poems are a nice basic form of poetry for young students. Take a word (like ‘Spring’) and get students to describe the word using the letters that form the word, either using single words or sentences. Brainstorm ideas on the board before students go back to desks. If students are too young too write the poem themselves, do one together as a class.  eg:

Sun is shining

Pollen fills the air

Rabbits hop in fields

I feel warm

New blossoms on trees

Going on a picnic

Haiku

Haikus are great for teaching syllables, since each line needs a specific syllable count. They are also quite short, which is perfect for younger students. A haiku has three lines: line one has 5 syllables; line two has 7 syllables; line three has 5 syllables. Practise clapping out syllables before you start. Example of a haiku:

Rain is falling down,

Pitter, patter on the ground,

Filling dams and streams.

Rhyming Couplets

Rhyming couplets are one of the simplest forms of poetry; it is a poem made up of pairs of lines that rhyme. There are lots of examples of rhyming couplets in classic poetry you can use to show students as examples (try Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales or Banjo Patterson). For older/more advanced students you can introduce the concept of meter, meaning the couplets should have a matching syllable count and matching rhythm. Here is an example from the opening lines of a picture book I’m working on:

There was a young boy from a faraway place,

Who woke up one morning with spots on his face.

He looked in the mirror and got quite a fright,

The spots on his face were a worrisome sight.

The spots were strange colours, like purple and blue,

And right on his nose was an orange spot too.

How the spots got there, young Jim did not know,

But one thing was certain, those spots had to go.

Limericks

Limericks are humourous poems with a specific rhyme scheme. I’m sure you can find lots of silly/fun examples to share with students (try Edward Lear). A limerick has five lines. The 1st, 2nd and 5th lines rhyme and the 3rd and 4th lines rhyme. The 3rd and 4th lines have a shorter syllable count than the 1st, 2nd and 5th. Limericks also have a specific rhythm/meter, which you can easily pick up by reading a few aloud. Traditionally the first line introduces a person and place. Example of a limerick:

There was a young girl from China,

Whose dresses couldn’t be finer,

Until she fell down,

A hole in the ground,

And now she looks like a miner.

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