Category: Lessons

How to Make a “Found Poem”

Visual artists sometimes talk about using “found objects” in their artwork. In other words, they collect interesting things during the course of a normal day (such as bus tickets, objects from nature, or a toy found on the street) and then find a way to incorporate those objects into their artwork.

Did you know that you can do the same thing with language? A “found poem” is created by collecting interesting text from the world around us and then using those words to make a poem. When you create poetry this way, you are acting like a documentary filmmaker—using scenes from real life to tell an interesting story.

Here are three simple and fun ways to create “found poetry” from the language that is all around you.

How to Start a Poetry Journal

A journal is a place to express yourself, to record your thoughts, feelings and observations, and to cultivate your poetic style. The cool thing about your journal is that it’s yours. You can keep it secret or share it with your friends and family. You might even read some of your poetry out loud at a talent show or poetry jam. Whatever you decide to do with it, a daily poetry journal will keep you writing. And the more you write, the better writer you become!

Step One: Choose a journal that fits your style

Do you like to draw pictures and doodle around your poetry? If so, you might want a book with blank pages. Do you need help keeping your words in order? Then try a journal with lines, such as a spiral-bound notebook. If you write all day long whenever inspiration strikes, use a smaller book with a hard cover that you can tuck into your backpack, purse, or pocket.

Step Two: Organize your journal

While this is an important step, it will be different for everyone. You can divide your journal in several different ways:

  • Emotions: Joy, Anger, Sorrow, Humility, Pride
  • Seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall (add the different holidays within each season.)
  • Chronological: Just write the date at the top of the page.
  • Poetic Form: Acrostic, Cinquain, Clerihew, Diamante, Haiku, Limerick, Free Verse, etc.
  • Subject: Sports, Humor, Dance, Friends, Nature, School

Once you’ve decided how to organize your journal, use a paper clip, divider, sticky note, or colored tape to divide your sections. (You do not need to do this for a chronological journal.)

Step Three: Write!

Poetry Journal

Jot down interesting words, phrases, sentences, or feelings on the page before starting your poem. This provides a jumping-off point for your thoughts.

For example, today I heard someone say, “I can’t be late for the bus!” So, I wrote that sentence on the top of a page in my “School” section.

Next, write down words that have to do with your phrase. For mine, I chose: Run, shout, nervous, hurry, stop, fast, heartbeat, homework, driver, windows, ice, puddles, clock, time, and wheels.

Then, decide what type of poem you want to write. For this one, I selected free verse.

Finally, use some of the words on your page to write your poem.

Bus Stop
My heart beats
so fast.

The puddles are lakes,
my homework… wet.

The clock ticks
faster than my feet
can run.

I shout to the driver,
“Stop!”

Wheels slow.
Take a breath.

I can’t be late for the bus.

Step Four: Keep it up!

It’s important to write in your journal on a regular basis. Finding a routine can help with that. Maybe you have quiet time at night before bed, when you’re riding on the bus, or at lunch break. Make it a part of your day, and soon you’ll have an entire journal full of incredible poetry!

How to Write a Backward Poem

Backward poems are one of the most fun types of poems to write. A “backward poem” is a poem in which everything is done in reverse of what you would usually expect. Often they are written about a “backward” person. For example, Shel Silverstein has a very famous poem called “Backward Bill” from his book A Light in the Attic, and Douglas Florian wrote a well-known poem called “Mr. Backward” in his book Bing, Bang, Boing. My poem “Mr. Brown the Circus Clown” from The Armpit of Doom is also an example of a backward poem.

Create a Backward Character

To write a backward poem, start by giving your backward person a name, such as “Backward Bill” or “Mr. Backward,” and maybe deciding where they are from. Then try rhyming the next line, like this:

Backward Bob from Backwardtown
is backward, flipped, and upside down.

Make a List of Backward Things

Now make a list of things that a backward person might do or say or have. For example, a backward person might wear his hat on his feet. Or he might have a cat that barks and a dog that meows. See if you can come up with several ideas like this and make a rhyming list, like this:

He wears his hat upon his feet
and wanders backward down the street.
His dog meows. His kitten barks.
His baby goldfish chases sharks.

You can add as many couplets (a “couplet” is two lines that rhyme) as you like to your list to make it as long as you want. For example, I thought of a few more things that Backward Bob might do:

His ears are blue. His nose is green.
He drives a purple submarine.
He eats his lunch when he’s asleep
and washes in a garbage heap.

Give Your Poem a Simple Ending

When you are writing a simple, descriptive poem – that is, a poem that describes someone or something, rather than telling a story – it’s okay to end your poem more or less the same way you started it. So you might write a couple of lines to end the poem like this:

And when he laughs he wears a frown.
He’s Backward Bob from Backward town.

Put it All Together

Once you’ve got your list and your beginning and end, just put it all together and, voila, you’ve got a shiny new backward poem, just like that.

Backward Bob

Backward Bob from Backwardtown
is backward, flipped, and upside down.
He wears his hat upon his feet
and wanders backward down the street.
His dog meows. His kitten barks.
His baby goldfish chases sharks.
His ears are blue. His nose is green.
He drives a purple submarine.
He eats his lunch when he’s asleep
and washes in a garbage heap.
And when he laughs he wears a frown.
He’s Backward Bob from Backwardtown.

How to Recite a Poem Like an Expert

If you would like to recite a poem for an audience – whether you are reciting a poem that you wrote yourself, or a poem by someone else – there are many different ways to go about it. Here are some of the things that will help you learn to recite poetry like an expert.

Choose a Poem that “Speaks to You”

When choosing a poem to recite, be sure to pick a poem that you really like. The more you like the poem, the more fun you will have learning and reciting it. Whether it’s a funny poem, a serious poem, a sad poem, a sports poem, a spooky poem, a jump-rope rhyme, or even a love poem, if it’s a poem that “speaks to you” – a poem that makes you feel something – you are going to enjoy sharing it with your audience.

It’s Okay to YELL!

There are lots of “right ways” to recite a poem, but in my opinion there is only one “wrong way.” The wrong way to recite a poem is to use your normal, everyday, “inside voice.” When you use your “inside voice,” you only speak loud enough for those closest to you to hear what you are saying. When you recite a poem, you need to speak loudly enough for everyone in the room to hear you.

Of course, if you really want to mess it up, you can also hold the poem in front of your face so no one can see your lips moving, making it that much harder for people to hear you. Oh, and look down at your shoes. When you speak, your voice travels in whatever direction you are facing. If you are looking at your shoes, your shoes can hear you really well, but other people might not.

So the first and most important thing to know when you want to recite a poem is that you really need to face your audience and use your “outside voice,” even if you are inside. In other words, it’s okay to YELL when reciting a poem. If anyone ever asks you why you were yelling when you recited a poem, please tell them Kenn Nesbitt said it was okay.

Memorize the Poem You Plan to Recite

To recite a poem well, it’s important to have it firmly committed to memory. If you don’t have the poem memorized, you are more likely to make mistakes when reciting it, even if you have it written on a piece of paper in front of you. Memorizing it will help make your recitation as good as possible.

I find that the best way to memorize a poem is to read a printed copy out loud as many times as possible. Depending on the length of the poem, you may have to read it out loud 10 or 20 times, or possibly even more, but each time you read a poem out loud, you will remember a little more of it.

How to memorize a poem:

  1. Get a printed copy of the poem.
  2. Look at the poem and read it out loud.
  3. Turn it over so you can’t see it.
  4. Recite as much of it as you can remember, from the beginning.
  5. Repeat steps 2 through 5 until you can recite the entire poem from memory.

Other Ways to Recite a Poem

While it’s okay to just YELL when you recite a poem, here are several other things you can do that might make it even better:

  • Look for the voice of the poem, and speak in that voice. In other words, if it’s a poem about a cowboy, see if you can put on a cowboy accent. If it’s a poem about a monster, try using the scariest monster voice you can. If it’s a poem about a baby, an old person, or just some crazy character, think of what that person might sound like and try to speak in their voice.
  • Rap the poem. Some poems have a rhythm built into the words. When you’re read a jump-rope rhyme, or any other rhythmical poem, you may find that it’s suitable for rapping. If you want to have even more fun with it, try reciting it to a drum beat or to music. Watch this video for an example how I recite poems to music: https://youtu.be/CkoOSfNjc40
  • Recite it with a friend. Many poems have more than one voice. That is, a poem might have different speaking parts – such as the narrator, a mother or father, a teacher, a child, etc. – making it easy to split up and be read by two or more people. Even if it’s not, perhaps you and a friend could take turns reading every other line.
  • Put on a play. If a poem tells a small story, you can perform it in much the same way that you can perform a play. You can create sets and props, and even wear costumes. Make it a drama! Or a comedy! Or a musical! Visit this link for an example of how a poem can be turned into a play: https://youtu.be/Meyq2pgCG-g
  • Run around, wave your hands, say it like you mean it. Don’t just limit yourself to the ideas I’ve given above. Recite the poem in any way that seems best to you. If that means sitting in a chair, or jumping up and down, or stomping back and forth, or even dancing, that’s okay. Just put some feeling into it and “read it like you mean it” to give the best performance you can.

Have Fun!

However you decide to recite a poem, the most important thing is that you have fun doing it. So pick a poem, memorize it, practice reciting it a few different ways to see what works best, and then have fun sharing it with your audience!

Rhyme Schemes – A Poetry Lesson Plan

This lesson plan uses several poems from Poetry4kids.com to show how to identify the rhyme scheme of a poem. Students will analyze the poems to determine the rhyme schemes of each.

Click here for a printable copy of this lesson plan for use in the classroom.

Rhyming words are words that sound the same at the ends, such as cat / hat, or jumping / bumping.

When a poem has rhyming words at the ends of its lines, these are called “end rhymes.” Here is an example of end rhyme:

My cat is nice.
My cat likes mice.

A “rhyme scheme” is a way of describing the pattern of end rhymes in a poem. Each new sound at the end of a line is given a letter, starting with “A,” then “B,” and so on. If an end sound repeats the end sound of an earlier line, it gets the same letter as the earlier line.

Here are three slightly different cat poems, each with a different rhyme scheme. The first is AABB, the second is ABAB, and the third is ABCB):

My cat is nice.
My cat likes mice.
My cat is fat.
I like my cat.
A
A
B
B

 

My cat is nice.
My cat is fat.
My cat likes mice.
I like my cat.
A
B
A
B

 

My cat is gray.
My cat is fat.
My cat is cute.
I like my cat.
A
B
C
B

 

Exercise:

  1. Read the following poems by Kenn Nesbitt.
  2. For each poem, identify the rhyme scheme and write it below the poem.

Mr. Brown the Circus Clown

Mr. Brown, the circus clown
puts his clothes on upside down.
He wears his hat upon his toes
and socks and shoes upon his nose.

Rhyme scheme: _____________

 

My Penmanship is Pretty Bad

My penmanship is pretty bad.
My printing’s plainly awful.
In truth, my writing looks so sad
it ought to be unlawful.

Rhyme scheme: _____________

 

All My Great Excuses

I started on my homework
but my pen ran out of ink.
My hamster ate my homework.
My computer’s on the blink.

Rhyme scheme: _____________

 

Today I Had a Rotten Day

Today I had a rotten day.
As I was coming in from play
I accidentally stubbed my toes
and tripped and fell and whackedwhack Strike forcefully with a sharp blow. my nose.

Rhyme scheme: _____________

Alliteration and Assonance – A Poetry Lesson Plan

This lesson plan uses the poem “My Puppy Punched Me in the Eye” by Kenn Nesbitt, from the book My Hippo Has the Hiccups to demonstrate alliteration and assonance, two common poetic devices that involve repetition of sounds. Students will analyze the poem to find as many examples of alliteration and assonance as they can.

Click here for a printable copy of this lesson plan for use in the classroom.

Alliteration is when a writer repeats the consonant sounds at the beginnings of words. For example, in “My puppy punched me in the eye,” the words “puppy punched” are alliterative because they both begin with “p.”

Assonance is when a writer repeats the vowel sounds in the stressed syllables of words. For example, in the line ”My rabbit whackedwhack Strike forcefully with a sharp blow. my ear,” the words “rabbit whacked” are an example of assonance because they both contain a “short a” sound on the stressed syllable.

Alliteration and assonance do not have to have the same letters; just the same sounds. So for example, “falling phone” is  alliterative and “flying high” is assonant, because they repeat the same sounds even though they don’t repeat the same letters.

Exercise:

  1. Read the following poem.
  2. Underline the alliterative words in each line.
  3. Circle the assonant words in each line.

Hint: Sometimes words can be both alliterative and assonant.

My Puppy Punched Me In the Eye

My puppy punched me in the eye.
My rabbit whacked my ear.
My ferret gave a frightful cry
and roundhouse kickedroundhouse kick A spinning kick, rotating the body with a wide sweep of the leg. my rear.

My lizard flipped me upside down.
My kitten kicked my head.
My hamster slammed me to the ground
and left me nearly dead.

So my advice? Avoidavoid to keep away from; keep clear of; shun. regretsregret to feel sorrow or remorse for (an act, fault, disappointment, etc.).;
no matter what you do,
don’t ever let your family pets
take lessons in kung fu.

–Kenn Nesbitt

 

How to Write a Funny List Poem

Shopping List

What is a list poem?

A “list poem” gets its name from the fact that most of the poem is made up of a long list of things.

Two famous list poems are “Bleezer’s Ice Cream” by Jack Prelutsky and “Sick” by Shel Silverstein. You will even find some of my list poems on poetry4kids.com, such as “My Lunch” and “That Explains It!

These are not the only list poems, though. Many children’s poets have written fun list poems, and you can even write your own. This lesson will show you how.

The structure of a list poem

List poems usually have a list in the middle, plus a few lines at the beginning and a few lines at the end. You can think of the beginning and end of a list poem like the top and bottom slices of bread in a sandwich. The list is like the meat or peanut butter or whatever else is between the bread. Picture it like this:

Beginning
List
List
List
List
Ending

List poems often rhyme, and they are usually funny. If you look at poems like Shel Silverstein’s “Sick” or Jack Prelutsky’s “Bleezer’s Ice Cream” you will notice that the lists also include very unusual items. Putting strange, unexpected, or exaggerated things on your list is a good way to make your poem funny.

Getting started

Here are two easy ways to start writing a list poem:

  1. Start with someone else’s beginning and end, but make your own list in the middle.
  2. Start by writing a list of your own, and then write your own beginning and end to go with the list.

You can decide for yourself whether it will be easier to write your own list poem from scratch, or to use someone else’s poem as a starting point.

Starting with someone else’s poem

It’s okay to use someone else’s list poem as the starting point for your own poem. (Just be sure to say your creation was “Based on…” the poem you used.) For example, here is my poem “That Explains It!”:

That Explains It!

I went to the doctor. He x-rayed my head.
He stared for a moment and here’s what he said.
“It looks like you’ve got a banana in there,
an apple, an orange, a peach, and a pear.

I also see something that looks like a shoe,
a plate of spaghetti, some fake doggy doo,
an airplane, an arrow, a barrel, a chair,
a salmon, a camera, some old underwear,
a penny, a pickle, a pencil, a pen,
a hairy canary, a hammer, a hen,
a whistle, a thistle, a missile, a duck,
an icicle, bicycle, tricycle, truck.

with all of the junk that you have in your head
it’s kind of amazing you got out of bed.
The good news, at least, is you shouldn’t feel pain.
From what I can see here you don’t have a brain.”

Notice that this poem begins with the four lines that set up the story, and ends with four lines that make it even funnier. You can use the same beginning and end, if you like, while putting your own list in the middle.
For example, what would the doctor find in your head? Since this list has rhymes at the end of each line, you can start with a few rhymes, like this:

house
mouse
cat
hat

Once you’ve got a few rhymes, you can add as many items as you want, like this:

“I also see something that looks like a house,
a monkey, a meerkat, a mink, and a mouse,
a laptop computer, a boat, and a cat,
an old pair of glasses, a coat, and a hat,

Of course, you don’t have to use my poem; you can use any list poem you like to create your own new list poem, or you can even create one from scratch.

Starting with your own list

If you prefer to write your own list poem from scratch, one easy way is to figure out what you’re going to make a list of. For example, you could make a grocery list, a list of things in your backpack, a list of your favorite sweets, a list of things you want for Christmas, and so on.
Let’s try it with a list of sweets. First let’s try to think of candies and sweets that rhyme.

Nestle’s Crunch
Hawaiian Punch
Dots
Zotz
Tootsie Pops
Lemon drops
Whoppers
Gobstoppers

Now that you’ve got some rhymes, put them into a list, adding a few more items to make the lines each about the same length:

A half a dozen Nestle’s Crunch.
A gallon of Hawaiian Punch.
Some Cracker Jacks. A box of Dots.
Some Pop Rocks and a jar of Zotz.
Reese’s Pieces. Tootsie Pops.
Hershey Kisses. Lemon drops.
Candy Corn, Milk Duds, and Whoppers.
Skittles, Snickers, and Gobstoppers.

Once your rhyming list is done, give it a beginning, an end, and a title and you’re all done.

My Shopping List

My mother said, “Go buy some bread,”
but this is what I got instead.

A half a dozen Nestle’s Crunch.
A gallon of Hawaiian Punch.
Some Cracker Jacks. A box of Dots.
Some Pop Rocks and a jar of Zotz.
Reese’s Pieces. Tootsie Pops.
Hershey Kisses. Lemon drops.
Candy Corn, Milk Duds, and Whoppers.
Skittles, Snickers, and Gobstoppers.
When mother needs things from the store
She never sends me anymore.

And that’s all there is to it. Now it’s your turn. Make a list of animals, friends, monsters, games, foods, places you’d like to go on vacation, or anything else you like, and see if you can turn it into a funny list poem of your own!

How to Write a Silly Song Parody

One of the easiest ways to write a funny poem of your own is to take any song you know – preferably a song that other people know too – and change the words to make your song. When you do this it’s called a “parody” or a “song parody” because it is a humorous imitation of the original song.

The first thing you will need to do to create your own parody is to pick a song. I recommend you choose a well-known children’s song such as “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” or “I’m a Little Teapot,” or a famous holiday song like “Jingle Bells,” rather than, say, a modern pop song. The reason is that more people will know the original tune, especially adults who may not be familiar with the latest songs on the radio.

Here is a list of songs to choose from (though there are many more than just these that will work well):

  • Oh My Darling, Clementine
  • The Itsy-Bitsy Spider
  • On Top of Old Smokey
  • Row, Row, Row Your Boat
  • Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
  • Miss Susie
  • My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean
  • Yankee Doodle

Rewriting My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean

Once you’ve picked a song, you’ll want to take a look at the original lyrics. For example, let’s look at the song “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean.” The original goes like this:

My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean

My Bonnie lies over the ocean,
My Bonnie lies over the sea.
My Bonnie lies over the ocean,
Please bring back my Bonnie to me.

Bring back, bring back,
Oh, bring back my Bonnie to me, to me.
Bring back, bring back,
Oh, bring back my Bonnie to me.

To change this into a new song, we will want to keep the same rhythm and the same rhyme pattern.  That is, we’ll want to have the second line rhyme with the fourth line, just as in the original. We’ll probably also want to have something or someone lying on top of something or someone else. Let’s just change “Bonnie” and the thing that “Bonnie” is on.

For example, let’s say instead of “My Bonnie” I decide to have “My bunny” lie on top of something. What might that be? Perhaps, my bunny could lie on top of one of my other pets, like this:

My bunny lies over doggy.

Next, I could have my bunny lie on top of something else. Or maybe I could have the dog lie on top of something else, and make a stack of animals, like this:

My bunny lies over my doggy.
My doggie lies over my cat.
My cat is on top of my froggy,
and that’s why my froggy is flat.

Okay, I think that’s pretty funny so I’ll keep it. But now I need to write a chorus to replace “Bring back, bring back.” I’m thinking about how my froggy just got squished by my other pets, and that sounds like a “green splat” to me, so here’s the chorus:

Green splat, green splat,
oh, that’s why my froggy is flat, like that.
Green splat, green splat,
oh, that’s why my froggy is flat.

And, just like that, we’ve got a brand new song parody.

Rewriting Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Let’s try another example. The song “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” is well known, and was even parodied by Alan Katz in his books Take Me Out of the Bathtub and I’m Still Here in the Bathtub. Let’s see if we can’t make our own version.

First, let’s look at the lyrics to the original song:

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Take me out to the ball game
Take me out to the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack
I don’t care if I ever get back,
‘Cause it’s root, root, root for the home team.
If they don’t win it’s a shame.
For it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out
At the old ball game.

To make a parody of this, let’s start by changing the “ball game” to something else. Can you think of some place you’d rather go than to a ball game? In order to keep the original rhythm, it will need to be some place that is still two syllables. What if we went to the movies instead? Then our first two lines might go like this:

Take me out to the movies.
Take me out to a show.

Now I need to say something, maybe about what kind of movies I like. Also, notice that “Cracker Jack” rhymes with “back,” so my next two lines need to rhyme as well.

I like explosions in every scene,
robots and aliens up on the screen.

Hey, I’m liking the way this is sounding… But to finish it off and make it funny, I want to say something about what kind of movies I don’t like. I don’t want to see any mushy love stories, so I’m going to end my song like this:

I like ninjas, pirates, and cowboys,
and giant man-eating plants
There’s just one thing I will not see;
I want no romance!

Notice that I rhymed the words “plants” and “romance” in the same spots where the original song had the words “shame” and “game.” This is because I want to keep the rhyme scheme the same as in the original song.

Your Turn

Now it’s your turn to make up your own silly song parody. Here’s all you have to do:

  1. Pick a song
  2. Change the first line just enough to make it different but still recognizable
  3. Keep the original rhythm and the original rhyme scheme
  4. Keep on writing and see where it leads you

Want to Read More?

If you would like to read some silly song parodies, there are many kids’ books full of them. Perhaps the most well-known is Alan Katz’ book Take Me Out of the Bathtub: A Silly-Dilly Songbook. Others include Bruce Lansky’s books I’ve Been Burping in the Classroom and Oh My Darling, Porcupine. My books The Tighty-Whitey Spider and Revenge of the Lunch Ladies also include a number of song parodies. Be sure to check a few of these books out of your library and get ready to have lots of fun.

How to Write a Haiku

It is easy to learn to write a haiku, but it can take a lot of practice to learn how to do it well. This lesson will give you the basics for writing your own haiku. It’s up to you to practice by writing a lot of them so you will get very good at it.

What is a Haiku?

A haiku is an unrhymed three-line poem. It is based on a traditional Japanese poetic form. Though there are different ways to write haiku, the traditional pattern in English is to write the first and last lines with five syllables each, and the middle line with seven syllables. In other words, the pattern of syllables looks like this:

Line 1: 5 syllables
Line 2: 7 syllables
Line 3: 5 syllables

Here’s another way to visualize the same thing:

1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
1 2 3 4 5

Most often, haiku poems are about seasons or nature, though you can write your own haiku about anything you like. If you don’t want to write about nature, and would prefer to write haiku about candy or sports, that is perfectly okay.

One more thing to keep in mind is that the last line of a haiku usually makes an observation. That is, the third line points out something about the subject you are writing about.

Let’s see how we can put these few rules together get your started writing your own haiku poems.

Haiku About Seasons

Let’s say that you decide to write your haiku about a season. First you will want to select a season: spring, summer, fall, or winter. I’ve decided to write a haiku about winter, and I know that in the last line I will want to make an observation. I want to say that winter is almost here, but we aren’t quite ready for the snow. Maybe it’s that we haven’t raked the leaves off the front lawn and we need to do it soon before it snows.

I want to say all of this, but I want to do it in a pattern of 5, 7, 5. So I might say something like this:

Winter is coming.
Snow will be arriving soon.
We should rake the leaves.

 If you count the syllables on your fingers as you read this poem, you will see that the lines have five syllables, seven syllables, and five syllables, just as they should.

Haiku About Nature

If you decide to write a haiku about nature, you will have many more subjects to choose from. You could write about animals, plants, the sky, the ocean, streams, the wind, and so on. Start by selecting a topic, and then decide what you want to say; what observation you want to make about it.

For example, I have decided to write a haiku about my cat. One thing I notice about my cat is that he sleeps a lot. In fact, I’m pretty sure he sleeps almost all night and all day. I’m not sure how he can be so tired. In any case, here is my haiku:

Tired cat sleeps all night.
He needs lots of rest for a
Long day of napping.

 Funny Haiku

Just because most haiku poems are about seasons or nature doesn’t mean that’s all they can be about. If you want, you can even write funny haiku poems. One way to make a haiku funny is to have an unexpected last line. For example, if the last line says the opposite of what the reader expects, it becomes like the punchline of a joke. It also helps to write about a funny subject.

As an example, I decided it would be funny to write a haiku excuse for why I can’t turn in my homework. Here it is:

My homework is late.
My dog ate it this morning.
I sure like my dog.

 Notice that this ending is unexpected. Most readers would expect the poem to end with something like “can I turn it in tomorrow?” or “I’m mad at dog” or something like that. By saying “I sure like my dog,” I am telling the reader something they don’t expect, which will hopefully make them smile.

Getting Started Writing Haiku

To begin writing haiku poems, just follow these steps:

  1. Select a type of haiku. Decide if you are going to write a seasonal, nature, or other type of haiku.
  2. Pick a topic. Select one specific season, item in nature, or something else you are going to write about.
  3. Think about what is different about your last line. What observation do you want to make?
  4. Start writing.
  5. Don’t forget to count the syllables as you read to make sure you’ve got the right pattern.
  6. Finally, “center” your poem on the page like the poems in this lesson.
When you are all done writing your first haiku, see if you can write another one. And, most importantly, have fun!

Worksheet

Haiku writing worksheet for kids

Click here to download a haiku writing worksheet

How to Write a Fractured Nursery Rhyme

Mother Goose

Messing with Mother Goose

If you want to write a poem, but you’re not sure where to start, try taking a poem you already know and changing it. While you can do this with any kind of poem, Mother Goose nursery rhymes are one of the easiest. It’s always fun to take a nursery rhyme and change a few words to make it funny.

First, you’ll need to choose a nursery rhyme or a well-known song such as “Row Your Boat.” There are hundreds to choose from, but here are some of the most popular ones to choose from:

  • Yankee Doodle
  • Humpty Dumpty
  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
  • Mary Had a Little Lamb
  • Hickory Dickory Dock
  • There Was an Old Woman
  • Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater

How to Fracturefracture to break or crack. a Nursery Rhyme

After you’ve selected a poem, you’ll need to find the words that rhyme. They should be easy to find because the rhyming words are usually at the end of each line, or the end of every other line. For example, you may have heard the Mother Goose nursery rhyme about the old woman who lived in a shoe. If not, here it is:

There was an old woman,
Who lived in a shoe;
She had so many children,
She didn’t know what to do.

She gave them some brothbroth 1. thin soup of concentrated meat or fish stock. 2. water that has been boiled with meat, fish, vegetables, or barley.,
Without any bread;
She whipped them all soundly,
And sent them to bed.

Notice that this poem rhymes on every other line. The word shoe rhymes with do and bread rhymes with bed.

Let’s change this poem starting with the first rhyme. Where else could this woman live? Should we put her in a hat? Perhaps on a boat? Maybe in a drawer? You see, if she could live in a shoe, she could live just about anywhere, so I’ve decided that for my poem, she will live in a box.

There was an old woman
who lived in a box,

Now we need to find some words that rhyme with box. I like socks, fox, rocks, and locks, but I think locks will work best because houses usually have locks. So I’ll write two more lines, like this:

There was an old woman
who lived in a box.
It didn’t have windows
or doorknobs or locks.

Now I’d also like to make this poem funny. I think the idea of a person living in a box is pretty funny by itself, but I wonder what a person might do if they lived in a box. How many things can you think of to do if your house was a box? Would you gift wrap your house for Christmas? Maybe you would be happy that you no longer lived in a shoe? Or how about something like this:

There was an old woman
who lived in a box.
It didn’t have windows
or doorknobs or locks.

She wanted to travel
the world and so
she mailed her house
where she wanted to go.

Getting Started

Remember, once you’ve selected a poem, you want to change the word that rhymes. Here are some examples

  • Put Humpty Dumpty on something besides a wall
  • Change the color of Mary’s lamb
  • Feed “Peter, Peter” something besides pumpkin

And don’t forget about nursery songs. Here are a few you can choose from:

  • Row, Row, Row Your Boat – How about “Ride, Ride, Ride Your Bike,” or “Pet, Pet, Pet Your Cat?”
  • Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star – What else twinkles besides stars? A diamond ring? A traffic light?
  • Yankee Doodle – What could he ride besides a pony? Maybe a rhino? Or a monkey?
  • Baa, Baa, Black Sheep – What would you ask her for besides wool? How about cash?

Now it’s your turn to put your own ideas on paper and see what kinds of fracturedfracture to break or crack. nursery rhymes you can come up. Remember to follow these three steps:

  1. Pick a poem or song
  2. Find the words that rhyme
  3. Choose new rhyming words to make a new poem or song

And, most importantly, have fun!

By the way, if you’d like to learn how to write a traditional Mother Goose-style nursery rhyme, check out this fun poetry-writing lesson: