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How to Write a Diamante Poem

What is a Diamante?

A diamante – pronounced dee-uh-MAHN-tay – is an unrhymed seven-line poem. The beginning and ending lines are the shortest, while the lines in the middle are longer, giving diamante poems a diamond shape. “Diamante” is the Italian word for diamond, so this poetic form is named for this diamond shape.

Believe it or not, the diamante was invented just 40 years ago. It was created by an American poet named Iris McClellan Tiedt in 1969, and has become very popular in schools.

Also known as a “diamond poem” because of it’s shape, there are two different types of diamantes; synonym diamantes and antonym diamantes.

The Rules of a Diamante

There are just a few rules to writing a diamante:

  1. Diamantes are seven lines long.
  2. The first and last lines have just one word.
    The second and sixth lines have two words.
    The third and fifth lines have three words.
    And the fourth line has four words.
  3. Lines 1, 4, and 7 have nouns.
    Lines 2 and 6 have adjectives.
    Lines 3 and 5 have verbs.

Here’s an easy way to visualize all three rules:

Noun
Adjective, Adjective
Verb, Verb, Verb
Noun, Noun, Noun, Noun
Verb, Verb, Verb
Adjective, Adjective
Noun

In a synonym diamante, the nouns at the beginning and end are two words that mean basically the same thing. In an antonym diamante, the two nouns are opposites. Here are a couple of examples:

Synonym Diamante

In this diamante, the words “Monsters” and “Creatures” mean the same thing, so they are synonyms.

Monsters
Evil, Spooky
Howling, Shrieking, Wailing
Ghosts, Vampires, Goblins, Witches
Flying, Scaring, Terrifying
Creepy, Crawly
Creatures

Antonym Diamante

In this diamante, you might say that the words “Cat” and “Dog” are opposites, or “antonyms,” so this is an antonym diamante.

Cat
Gentle, Sleepy
Purring, Meowing, Scratching
Whiskers, Fur, Collar, Leash
Barking, Licking, Digging
Slobbery, Playful
Dog

Getting Started

To start writing a diamante, you first need to decide what thing you want to write about. The reason you want to pick a thing is that your first and last lines need to be nouns. In other words, your diamante will be about a noun, such as a “pencil” or a “pizza,” rather than about a verb, such as “jump” or an adjective like “smelly.” An easy thing to write about is something you like or something you see around you.

Next, you’ll want to decide whether you want to write a synonym diamante or an antonym diamante. If you want to write a synonym diamante, you’ll want to select another word that means the same thing as your subject. If you are going to write an antonym diamante, choose a word that is its opposite.

For this example, I will show you how to write an antonym diamante about the “sun,” and my second noun is “moon,” since the sun and the moon can be considered opposites.

Once you’ve chosen your two nouns, take a piece of paper and brainstorm as many words as you can that have to do with each of them. For example, make one column for each word and write down everything you can think of. You’ll want adjectives (descriptive words), verbs (action words), and even more nouns. Your lists should look something like this:

Sun

Moon

Hot Cold
Yellow Silver
Fiery Night
Day Still
Light Orbiting
Blinding Shining
Exploding Beautiful
Distant Crescent
Nuclear

 

Don’t worry if you have more words than you need. It’s better to have too many words to choose from than not enough.

Finally, you’ll want to arrange your diamante, putting the synonyms or antonyms at the top and bottom, the adjectives next, on lines 2 and 6, the verbs after that on lines 3 and 5, and lastly your additional nouns on the middle line.

In the top half of the poem – lines 2 and 3 – your adjectives and verbs should be ones from your first brainstorming column – words that have to do with line 1, like this:

Sun
Fiery, Yellow
Burning, Blinding, Exploding

In the bottom half of the poem – lines 5 and 6 – your adjectives and verbs should be related to the noun on line 7, like this:

Shining, Orbiting, Reflecting
Cold, Silver
Moon

On line 4, the line in the middle of the poem, the first two nouns should be related to the noun on line 1, and the last two nouns should be related to the noun on line 7, like this:

Flame, Light, Night, Crescent

When you put everything together, you’ll end up with something like this:

Sun
Fiery, Yellow
Burning, Blinding, Exploding
Flame, Light, Night, Crescent
Shining, Orbiting, Reflecting
Cold, Silver
Moon

Things to Remember

As you begin writing your own diamantes, here are the important things to remember:

  • Diamantes can be about anything
  • They are 7 lines long
  • The word count is simple: 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 1
  • Your lines should have: noun, adjectives, verbs, nouns, verbs, adjectives, noun
  • Try to “center” your poem on the page to give it a diamond shape
  • Most importantly, have fun!

How to Write a Cinquain Poem

What is a Cinquain?

Adelaide Crapsey, American poet and creator of the modern cinquain

Adelaide Crapsey, American poet and creator of the modern cinquain

A cinquain – which, by the way, is pronounced “sin-cane,” not “sin-kwane” – is a form of poetry that is very popular because of its simplicity. It was created by American poet Adelaide Crapsey about 100 years ago, and is similar to Japanese poetic forms, such as haiku and tanka.

Cinquains are just five lines long, with only a few words on each line, making them easy to write. The first and last lines have just two syllables, while the middle lines have more, so they end up with a diamond-like shape, similar to the poetic form called the diamante.

Though they are just five lines long, the best cinquains tell a small story. Instead of just having descriptive words, they may also have an action (something happening), a feeling caused by the action, and a conclusion or ending.

You can learn to write cinquains by following these few simple steps:

  1. Decide what you would like to write about.
  2. Brainstorm words and phrases that have to do with your idea.
  3. Think about what story you want to tell.
  4. Write your words and phrases in an order that tells your story, being sure to count the syllables as you go.

The Rules of a Cinquain

There are actually many different ways to write a cinquain, so I’m just going to teach you how to write a traditional cinquain, as it was defined by the poet who invented it. These are the rules:

  1. Cinquains are five lines long.
  2. They have 2 syllables in the first line, 4 in the second, 6 in the third, 8 in the fourth line, and just 2 in the last line.
  3. Cinquains do not need to rhyme, but you can include rhymes if you want to.

That’s it. Just three simple rules.

If you want to, you can even memorize the syllable count by remembering this five-digit number: 24682. Repeat after me: 24682, 24682, 24682. Now you’ve got it.

Getting Started

First, you need to select a topic. That is, you need to choose something to write your cinquain about. Here are a few easy places to get ideas:

  • Write about your favorite thing
  • Write about something you don’t like
  • Write about something you see around you
  • Write about something that happens to you

Since I like ice cream, I think I’ll write a cinquain about ice cream. This is convenient since the words “ice cream” have two syllables, so I can probably use this phrase as the first line of my cinquain. If your favorite thing is pizza, soccer, your cat, etc., you could also use “soccer,” “pizza,” or “my cat” as the first line of your cinquain.

Brainstorming ideas

Once you know what you are going to write about, you need to brainstorm ideas about your topic. Think of as many things as you can and write them down on a piece of paper. It’s okay to write your ideas on one piece of paper and then write your poem on another piece of paper.

For example, I know several things about ice cream, so I’ve put them down here:

  • It is cold.
  • It is yummy.
  • It is sweet.
  • I like eating it.

These are just four ideas, but they are not yet a poem. To turn these ideas into a cinquain poem, we need to say them in a way that we have five lines with the right number of syllables on each line.

Counting Your Syllables

I recommend your count your syllables with your fingers as you write each line. If a line has too many syllables or not enough syllables, see if you can change some of the words to get the right number of syllables.

Once you get the syllable count right, make sure the poem says what you want it to say. You may need to go back and change it some more so that it tells the story you want it to.

Once your cinquain is finished, read it again, counting the syllables on your fingers to make sure you got everything right.

Ice Cream Cinquain

Here’s a cinquain that I wrote about ice cream, using the ideas that I brainstormed earlier:

Ice Cream

Ice cream.
Cold and yummy.
I love its sweet richness
as it finds its way into my
tummy.

You might notice a few things about this poem. It tells a little story. There is an action in which I eat the ice cream and it swallow it. There is a feeling expressed where I tell that I love it. And I even rhymed “yummy” with “tummy.”

Messy Room Cinquain

Let’s try another one. This time, let’s write a cinquain about having a messy room. First, we need to brainstorm ideas. Here are a few I came up with:

  • Dirty laundry
  • Toys all over the place
  • Mom says “clean it up”
  • The hamper is overflowing
  • I’d rather watch TV than clean my room
  • I don’t mind my own mess

I don’t have to use all of these ideas, but writing more ideas than I am going to actually use give me lots to choose from when I start writing the poem.

Now that I’ve got my ideas, I’ll rearrange these into a five-line story with a 24682 syllable pattern, like this:

My Messy Room

My room
is such a mess.
Toys all over the place.
Mom says, “Clean up!” But I like it
like this.

Telling a Story with Your Cinquain

I mentioned earlier that the best cinquains tell a story. An easy way to do this is to start with your subject on the first line, describe it on the second, put an action on the third line, a feeling on the fourth line, and a conclusion on the last line, like this:

Title

Subject
Description
Action
Feeling
Conclusion

You don’t have to follow this pattern exactly. For example, in the Messy Room cinquain, you’ll see that my description is on lines 2 and 3, and both the action and the feeling are on line 4. But this should give you a general pattern for telling a story.

What Are You Going to Write?

Now it’s your turn to try writing your own cinquain. Here are a few things to remember as you write:

  • Cinquain poems can be written about anything
  • They are five lines long
  • The syllable pattern is 2, 4, 6, 8, 2
  • Brainstorm ideas first
  • Count the syllables on your fingers
  • “Center” your poem on the page
  • Rhyme if you want to
  • Have fun!

 

How to Write an Acrostic 

What is an Acrostic?

Acrostics are a fun poetic form that anyone can write. They have just a few simple rules, and this lesson will teach you how to create acrostic poems of your own.

To begin with, an acrostic is a poem in which the first letters of each line spell out a word or phrase. The word or phrase can be a name, a thing, or whatever you like. When children write acrostics, they will often use their own first name, or sometimes the first name of a friend.

Usually, the first letter of each line is capitalized. This makes it easier to see the word spelled out vertically down the page.

Acrostics are easy to write because they don’t need to rhyme, and you don’t need to worry about the rhythm of the lines. Each line can be as long or as short as you want it to be.

Creating an Acrostic in Five Easy Steps

To create an acrostic, follow these five easy steps:

  1. Decide what to write about.
  2. Write your word down vertically.
  3. Brainstorm words or phrases that describe your idea.
  4. Place your brainstormed words or phrases on the lines that begin with the same letters.
  5. Fill in the rest of the lines to create a poem.

Now let me show you how to follow these steps.

The first step is to decide what you would like to write an acrostic poem about. I recommend you start by writing an acrostic based on your name or on your favorite thing, whatever that happens to be. It doesn’t matter if your favorite thing is soccer, video games, chocolate, music, pizza, movies, or anything else.

An Ice Cream Acrostic

For example, I especially like ice cream, so I decided to write an acrostic about ice cream. Begin by writing the word “ICE CREAM” down the page like this:

I
C
E 

C
R
E
A
M

Next, you want to say something about ice cream in each line. A good way to do this is to “brainstorm” lots of ideas. I wrote down a list of all the ice cream flavors I could think of, including chocolate chip, strawberry, rocky road, and others. Then I put them in a list wherever they would fit, like this:

Ice Cream

I
Cookies & Cream.
English Toffee.

Chocolate Chip.
Rocky Road.
E
Almond Fudge.
M

You’ll notice that I didn’t fill in all of the lines. That’s because I couldn’t think of a flavor that started with “I” and I could only think of one flavor that started with “E.” Also, I thought I would do something different with the last line, to make it an ending for the poem, rather than just another flavor.

Finally, I filled in the missing lines, like this:

Ice Cream

I love every flavor.
Cookies & Cream.
English Toffee.

Chocolate Chip.
Rocky Road.
Even Strawberry and
Almond Fudge.
Mmmmmmmm.

Now, just as you can write acrostics about things you like, you can also write them about things you don’t like, such as chores, homework, and so on. Here is an example acrostic about homework.

A Homework Acrostic

Begin by writing the word “HOMEWORK” down the page:

H
O
M
E
W
O
R
K

Next, brainstorm as many words and phrases as you can think of.  Here are some I came up with:

Reading for hours. Writing. Not my favorite. Every Day. I’d rather be watching TV. Makes me crazy. Overwhelming. Hard to do.

Notice that some of these words and phrases begin with the letters in the word “homework.” I put these ones in where I saw they would go:

Homework

Hard to do
Overwheming,
M
Every day
Writing
O
Reading for hours.
K

Finally, I found a way to fill in the rest of the words, and even give it an ending. Here is the finished acrostic:

Homework

Hard to do and sometimes
Overwheming,
My teacher gives us homework
Every single day!
Writing for hours
Or
Reading for hours.
Kids need a break!

Things to Remember

Here are a few things to remember as you begin writing your own acrostics:

  1. Acrostics can be about anything!
  2. Names are a common topic. Try writing one using your best friend’s name and giving it to him or her as a gift.
  3. You can use single words, phrases, or even full sentences in your acrostic poem.

Finally, remember, acrostic poems are one of the easiest and most fun ways to create poems of your own. Give it a try and see what you can come up with.

 

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Recipe for Disaster

A box of melted crayons.
A cup of Elmer’s glue.
A pint of watercolor paint.
Some Silly Putty too.

A half a pound of Play-Doh.
About a pint of paste.
A tablespoon of flubber
to improve the final taste.

I looked through all the cupboards
for things I could include.
If it was marked “Non-Toxic”
I just figured that meant “food.”

To guarantee it’s healthy
I topped it with a beet.
Then smashed it all together
so it should be good to eat.

I’m hoping that you’ll try it
and tell me what you think.
Just close your eyes and open wide
and nevermind the stink.

–Kenn Nesbitt

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Lee Bennett Hopkins

Lee Bennett Hopkins

An Interview with Lee Bennett Hopkins

Lee Bennett Hopkins is an award-winning children’s author, poet, anthologist, and editor, and a lifelong promoter of poetry for children. I had the honor of speaking with him recently about his career, his books, and his thoughts about children’s poetry. You can listen to the interview here on the Poetry4kids Podcast.

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Our Teacher Sings the Beatles

Our teacher sings The Beatles.
She must know every song.
We ask her please to stop
but she just sings, “It Won’t Be Long.”

And then she croons like Elvis.
She clearly thinks it’s cool.
And if we beg her not to
she just belts out, “Don’t be Cruel.”

She then does Michael Jackson.
It drives us nearly mad.
We have to cover up our ears
because she’s singing, “Bad.”

She winds up with The Wiggles
or else a Barney song,
and, even worse, she tells us all
that we should sing along.

It’s all my fault she does this.
I feel like such a fool.
I wish I’d never brought
my karaoke box to school.

–Kenn Nesbitt

The Gift of Personal Poetry

The Gift of Personal Poetry

The holidays are almost upon us, and of course, our thoughts turn to gifts and giving, and giving thanks. For most kids, it’s all about what they’ll be getting under the tree, and not often about what they can give to others. And yet, ask any parent what the most precious gift they ever received from a child was, and they’ll remember a handmade card, a drawing, a letter, or a poem. This season gives you a wonderful opportunity to use poetry to help children create a lasting, memorable gift for the people that they love. I’d like to give you a few pointers for poetry projects that translate well into family gifts.

Here’s my latest animated video. I had so much fun creating this one and I think you’ll see why when you play it. Have fun!

Note:  If you’d like to read along with the poem, click on the “cc” button at the bottom of the video once it starts playing.