Often when they’re asked to write a poem, children can get stuck at the first hurdle: What to write about. By using a familiar starting point, you can kick-start your class’s creativity by giving an easy way in—and a great place to begin is with the fairy tales they’ve grown up with!
Many fairy tales are even older than the printing press. Originally, they were passed on from person to person and generation to generation only orally. (Once books became commonplace, people such as the Brothers Grimm were able to collect the stories from people and commit them to paper.) A great way for people to remember stories in those days was to turn them into rhyming poems or songs—often called ballads—so they could pass them on from one person to the next. This meant that each person could also change the story when they told it, to keep it interesting and relevant (or if they had forgotten a bit!).
Once the stories were written down, they weren’t as easy to change, because the printed word was there for everyone to see. This activity is all about creating a rhyming version of a well-known fairy tale story, and memorizing it at the same time.
This lesson plan uses excerpts from famous poems to demonstrate how onomatopoeia can be used in a poem. Students will closely read the poem excerpts to identify the onomatopoeia words. They will then choose three onomatopoeia words from a suggested list to use in a poem of their own.
Onomatopoeia refers to words that sound exactly or almost exactly like the thing that they represent. Many words that we use for animal or machine noises are onomatopoeia words, such as “moo” for the sound a cow makes and “beep-beep” for the noise of a car horn. Words like “slurp,” “bang,” and “crash” are also onomatopoeia words. Even some ordinary words like “whisper” and “jingling” are considered onomatopoeia because when we speak them out loud, they make a sound that is similar to the noise that they describe.
Poetry often uses onomatopoeia words because they are so descriptive. This type of word helps us to imagine the story or scene that is happening in the poem.
Here are two examples that show how famous poets have used onomatopoeia in their poems. In these poem excerpts, the onomatopoeia words are underlined.
Live in the UK? Love horses and ponies? Creative? Want to get your writing published in a magazine? PONY magazine is offering the fantastic chance for you to become a published poet! Whether you have been writing for years or are a total beginner – they would love to read your horsey poetry!
To enter the competition all you need to do is get creative and write a poem about anything to do with horses. Have a favourite riding moment? A beautiful pony you love? Tell them about it!
There’s nothing so exciting as a secret! That’s why private messages written on folded paper, passed to friends who you know will keep your secret, are so thrilling… There’s a chance the note might get intercepted, and the information will get leaked!
The following poem is about a poem that nobody is supposed to read. It’s a secret, but not a very good one, because everyone keeps reading it, even when the author asks them to stop!
Presidents Day is celebrated on the 3rd Monday of the month every February in the USA. It marks the birthday of the first American President George Washington (which was actually on February 22nd, but we like to have our holidays on a Monday!)
In fact, that’s Great Idea Number One:
Write a poem called ‘I’d like to have a holiday on a Monday!’ Think about the annoying things about Mondays, and the awesome things about holidays. What do you normally do on a Monday? What could you do differently if it were a holiday?
Kids love to get up and get moving, which is great because movement can help reinforce learning. Most children also love games. Put movement and games together, and you have a high energy activity that can be done quietly in any classroom: Charades!
The following game of charades uses the twenty-seven activities found in the poem “I Don’t Know What to Do Today.” It’s simple to prepare, exciting, and teaches children that poetry is fun while helping them reinforce important skills like memorization, cooperation, and word association.
When people hear the word ‘ballad’ today they often think of mushy love songs, but ballads have a much greater history. While most poetry is concerned with evoking emotions and feelings, the ballad is a vehicle for story-telling, and has been with us since medieval times.
The words are set to music to become a song, and follow a simple rhyming pattern and a set meter (or rhythm).
Each verse has four lines, and the poem can have as many verses as necessary to tell the story. Some famous examples are ‘Beowulf’, ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ and ‘The House of The Rising Sun.’*
Because a ballad can tell any story, they are a great way of fitting creative writing tasks into your curriculum. Here are some exercises you can use to explore the form:
Evoking the Senses: How to Capture an Atmosphere in Your Poem
The best poems draw in their audience, and spark the imagination. If you want to conjure up a complete world for the reader when writing about a particular place or time, you can call upon each of the five senses to create the correct atmosphere.
This short lesson will give you an example of how you can use this technique in your own poetry!
Valentine’s Day is a perfect opportunity to tell the people we care about how much they mean to us. The tradition of sharing our feelings by giving cards dates back to the 15th Century in Europe, and the messages were all originally written as poems!
The oldest surviving example of a Valentine’s poems is written in French, but the most famous Valentine’s poem of all is in English:
Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
Sugar is sweet,
And so are you!
The best thing about this poem is that it is so simple to adapt by changing just a few words.
Writing Your Own “Roses are Red” Poem
Some people buy pre-printed cards, but homemade cards always mean a bit more, especially when you’ve written your own personalized poetry inside!