Playing with parts of speech is fun, especially if you’ve ever done any MadLib exercises with your students. Playing with parts of speech extends to poetry. The specific structure provides freedom and reviews important elements of our language, including nouns, verbs, adjectives and articles.
Before getting started on the following poems, it would be a good idea to review the parts of speech that your students will be required to use for them. This Simple Parts of Speech Process Grid is a good tool to use in your classroom, going over the purpose of each, then putting together silly sentences and sharing them with the class. After this review, they should be ready to go!
The Parts of Speech Poem focuses on using different parts of speech to describe an object. Here’s the structure:
Line 1 – one article (a, and, the) + one noun
Line 2 – one adjective + one conjunction + one adjective
Line 3 – one verb + one conjunction + one verb
Line 4 – one adverb
Line 5 – one noun that relates to the noun in the first line
When reviewing the structure, spend some time going over different conjunctions – if you have younger kids, keep it to these three: and, or, but. I wrote the following example, and I chose “Mother” as the subject because of the Poetry Book project mentioned below.
Strict but funny
Loves and serves
The Diamonte poem is written in a diamond shape. It is a poem about contraries or dichotomies, which is one of my favorite philosophical realities of life; however, for kids, “Opposites” will be good enough.
Before getting started, review the definition of participles. These are words, usually verbs, with an -ing ending.
When you teach your kids about the structure of the poem, it may be easiest to write from the outside in. Model writing a Diamonte with your whole group. Start with Lines 1 and 7, choosing two opposite nouns like “Dog” and “Cat,” or take suggestions from your students. Then write lines 2 and 3 in relation to the subject in line 1, and lines 5 and 6 that relate to the subject in line 7. After that, tackle line 4, which is a transition, with four nouns split between the two subjects. Here’s a simple breakdown of the structure:
Line 1 – One noun, the first subject of the poem
Line 2 – two adjectives describing the subject in line 1
Line 3 – three participles (words ending in -ing, also about subject in line 1)
Line 4 – four nouns, the first two related to subject #1, the second related to subject #2
Line 5 – three participles (about subject in line 7)
Line 6 – two adjectives describe the subject in line 7
Line 7 – one noun, the second subject of the poem, often opposite from the subject in Line 1
I wrote the following poem, using the opposites “Day” and “Night.”
playing, moving, working
sun, trees, moon, bed
sleeping, dreaming, breathing
Synonym poems are probably most appropriate for older students. There are a few steps to follow when creating a Synonym poem, and it’s a little complicated because Lines 2 and 3 should rhyme. Below I’ve outlined the structure of this poem and provided an example:
Line 1 – Any word, written in capital letters
Line 2 – three to five synonyms for the word in Line 1
Line 3 – A descriptive phrase about the word in Line 1, Lines 2 and 3 should rhyme
Dream, Expect, Look Forward To
Faith in all that you can do.
You might want to provide a list of words for your students to start with, such as Fear, Light, Song, Desire, Friendship, Fun, Dream, Noise, Sun, Rain, Thought, Feelings, Trouble, Happiness, Memory and History among others. Your students can then practice using the Thesaurus to find synonyms for their chosen word, working to rhyme the second and third lines.
Mother’s Day is coming up, and I like to work in a project that kids can create for the mothers in their lives – the Poetry Book. Fill this Poetry Book with a collection of poems your students have learned and practiced. Since this is potentially a Mother’s Day project, instruct your students to write some of the poetry forms about their mothers or another special person that they’d like to give the Poetry Book to.
However, Mother’s Day can be a little tricky for some of your students who might not have a mom at home. I approach this each year head on. First, I explain to the whole class that a Mother’s Day project might not be appropriate since some people don’t have a mom at home. I explain that I grew up without a dad, so I understand. Then I say that if this is your situation, change the poetry book from a Mother’s Day gift into a gift for someone special who takes care of them. I make sure to follow up with certain kids to see how their poetry books are coming along, and talk about who they’ll give their poetry books to when finished.
The Poetry Book is easy to construct from basic materials. I like to use a number of 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheets of white paper and fold them in half horizontally. Staple two or three times down the middle and you have an instant Poetry Book.
Some students worry about neat handwriting in their books. This is a good opportunity to have students type their poems, cut them out and paste them into their books or use the old-school notebook paper way. Use a black marker to trace over the lines on a piece of notebook paper and place it underneath a page of the poetry book. Students can then write straight and neatly without having to use a ruler.
No matter who they’re for, creating Poetry Books is a great project to celebrate an important person in the lives of your students as the year draws to a close.