Teaching Rhyming Poetry in the Classroom April 27 2010

Once in a while, I write a story in rhyme.
I'm here to tell ya, it takes some time.

The last word of each line from close family,
And syllables that must fit perfectly.

Working with verbs that must conjugate
All of it gives me a minor headache!

Sincerely, working in rhyme is not that bad. I just had to start out the post with a few couplets to get us all in the mood! Plus, if you've ever tried writing a story in a rhyming scheme, it's tough. For kids, rhyming in couplets and quatrains will be quite enough - oy, now I can't stop rhyming.

Working On Rhyming

Rhyming is already a part of your literacy curriculum, especially if you work with younger kids. Practice in word families give your kids a heads-up when it comes to choosing words that rhyme. It's also fun to see and change words visually, like in this Word Families and Rhyming Center Pocket Chart, or through Rhyming/Word Family Sort Cards or Rhyming Bingo.

Couplets

Couplets will put your kids' rhyming skills to good use. Couplets are two lines of poetry that rhyme, made up of about the same number of syllables and have a recognizable rhythm. Sets of couplets are joined together to make longer poems.

The verses that start out this post are couplets. Take some time and model writing Couplets with your kids. Give them time to write a Couplet to share with the group, assigning a subject for everyone to work on for a few minutes. Here's one about rain:

Drops on my head tell me there's rain -
Opening my umbrella can be such a pain!

Quatrains

When your kids are ready, take those Couplets and turn them into Quatrains!

Quatrains are four-line poems that follow different rhyme patterns, which include AABB, ABBA, ABAB, or ABCB. These patterns refer to the last word in each line of a Quatrain. Here's a simple breakdown:

AABB - the last words in Lines 1 and 2 rhyme, the last words in Lines 3 and 4 rhyme
ABBA - the last words in Lines 1 and 4 rhyme, the last words in Lines 2 and 3 rhyme.
ABAB - the last words in Lines 1 and 3 rhyme, the last words in Lines 2 and 4 rhyme.
ABCB - only the last words in Lines 2 and 4 rhyme.

Probably the easiest way to form Quatrains are to write two couplets about the same subject. When you put these two couplets together, the pattern will automatically be AABB.

Putting Together the Poetry Book

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.