Poetry 101: Tips and Ideas for Great Poems
April 23, 2012 ~
Kumon is launching the Kumon Poetry Challenge during the month of April in celebration of Earth Day and National Poetry Month. Poetry can be intimidating for a lot of people, but as with any skill, practice in both reading and writing poetry can make it less overwhelming, more enjoyable and open up a new world for all who appreciate the written word.
Kumon’s Reading Program introduces poetry in the early levels and continues exploration of the form through program completion. From Gertrude Stein to T.S. Eliot, poetry is an integral part of the learning process at Kumon. To further encourage your child’s foray into the literary arts, and to help polish his or her skills for the Earth Day poem, we have gathered resources and have a few helpful tips to get things started.
The Basic Forms
For the Kumon Poetry Challenge, we are asking students to write poems in one of the following four forms: haiku, limerick, acrostic or free-form. To help give you and your child a better idea of what these forms are, here is a list of short descriptions and helpful resources from around the Web.
- Haiku — A form of poetry that originated in Japan. Haiku in English usually consists of three lines with 17 syllables total (generally in 5-7-5 structure), a seasonal connection in subject matter and a comparison or juxtaposition of two different ideas or images. For more kid-friendly haiku information, check out http://www.kidzone.ws/poetry/haiku.htm.
- Limerick — A form of poetry popularized in the 19th century that has a distinctive rhyme scheme and often humorous content. Limericks are often a stanza consisting of five lines with the first, second and fifth rhyming and the third and fourth lines rhyming (AABBA). Rhythm is a defining feature of this form, which makes it easy to speak or even sing. For more information on limericks, check out http://www.gigglepoetry.com/poetryclass/limerickcontesthelp.html.
- Acrostic — A form of poetry where the first letter of each line spells out a word. More complicated acrostics can use syllables or words to spell out a message. People often create acrostic poems from names. Although it may seem like a simple form, many famous writers, such as Edgar Allan Poe and Lewis Carroll, have utilized acrostic in their work. For family-friendly information, check out http://www.gigglepoetry.com/poetryclass/acrostic.html.
- Free-form (or free verse) — A form of poetry that does not follow a consistent pattern or form. Free-form poetry can borrow from many other forms of poetry and often follows the poetic line structure. Ultimately, the writer is able to experiment with words and form openly to achieve the desired effect. For more information on teaching free-form poetry to children, check out http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/kidx2019s-poems.
Take some time out of your evening to discuss poetry with your children, find out which form they find most interesting and encourage them to give it a try. Make it a family activity and share your poems with each other. Use a dedicated notebook, a white board or large pieces of paper that can be posted on the walls to make poetry writing a special activity. Consider having a poetry-themed family night when you read poems together, practice writing poems and then offer awards for the funniest, the most beautiful and the cleverest.
Don’t forget to submit your child’s environmentally themed poetry in the Kumon Poetry Challenge in celebration of Earth Day, starting on April 17 at noon ET. The more you support your child’s exploration of poetry, the more he or she might surprise you!