Help Kids Celebrate and Appreciate Poetry

5 min to read
A high school student reading a poetry book

Poetry is a great way to get students to play with language, structure, and punctuation. Poetry doesn’t have to be intimidating; rather, it can be a way for students to have fun! 

Here are some ways you can encourage your student to explore poetry and some guidelines for how to write poetry for kids. But first, what makes something a poem?

What’s the Difference Between Poetry and Prose?

In general, poetry is a combination of words and punctuation (or a purposeful lack of punctuation) that conveys a feeling, image, or moment. 

Poetry is different than other kinds of writing, because a large part of poetry is defined by the rhythm of the words. Poets may structure their poems in stanzas and with a specific meter and rhyming scheme or may use free verse. Still, one of the key elements of poetry is the sound of the words. Poetry can be considered the music of the language arts. In contrast, narrative prose focuses on plot and characters, although form can certainly be part of prose.

Benefits of Poetry for Kids

Creating, reading, studying, and listening to poetry can help students strengthen their verbal-linguistic intelligence, which refers to the ability to use and understand written and spoken language.

Poetry also helps students explore the different possibilities of various word combinations, punctuation uses, connotations, syllables, meters, structures, and more. Words can be fun, and kids can use their creativity and imagination to write their own poems and play with the possibilities of language.

How to Help Kids Write Poetry

Poetry can come in many various types and genres. Here are some different types of poetry for kids and some poetry examples for kids.

Poetry Activities for Levels K-2

At these ages, kids are just starting to learn about words, so creating an acrostic poem can be a fun entry into the world of poetry for young children. 

To write an acrostic poem, write a word vertically. Each letter of that vertical word starts a horizontal line of the poem about the vertical word. 

Here is an example:

Cuddly and fluffy

Always ready to play

The best friend to have

Poetry Activities for Grades 3-5 

Students in third to fifth grades understand numerous words and are ready to play with the sounds, rhythms, and feelings that words can create.  

To start writing a rhyming poem, instruct your student to have the last word of each line rhyme and contain the same number of syllables. 

An easy introduction to poetry is to write a limerick. 

Limericks are structured poems, five lines long, that follow a simple to follow rhyming and syllable pattern and often tells an amusing story. 

The first, second, and fifth lines are eight syllables and the final words of each line rhyme with each other. The third and fourth lines are five syllables and uniquely rhyme with each other in what is called a couplet. 

Here’s an example:

There once was a funny old bird

Who'd nearly repeat any word.

Though he'd sing quite strong,

the lyrics were wrong,

because every song he misheard.

To keep track of the syllables, try clapping along to each sound as you and your student say the words aloud. 

Poetry Activities for Grades 6-8

Song lyrics are a type of poetry that kids can try creating themselves. Encourage your student to rewrite the lyrics to the tune of their favorite song. How would they change the theme of the lyrics? Would they make the lyrics happier than the current lyrics? Or sadder? How could they make the lyrics rhyme in different ways? How could they write the lyrics to reflect something in their lives?

Encourage them to take note of the song’s current rhyme scheme. Are there any imperfect or slant rhymes? How do they affect the song?

 An online school student studies poetry for kids.

Poetry Activities for Grades 9-12

Students at these ages are ready to dive deeply into the connotations, symbolism, and imagery in poems. This type of poetry analysis can help them practice critical thinking skills

Help your student pick out a poem that interests them, perhaps one that connects with the student’s hobbies or academic interests. Then, have them analyze the poem by using the following of poetry analysis.

  1. Read the poem silently all the way through.
  2. Read the poem out loud.
  3. Look for any rhyming pattern. If there is a pattern, then write (or “map”) it out.
  4. Look for any meter in the poem by searching for stressed and unstressed syllables.
  5. Identify the poem’s structure (such as stanzas, number of lines in each stanza, line breaks, etc.).
  6. Identify the poem’s form, meaning what type of poem it is.
  7. Look at the poem’s words and identify any connotations, imagery, symbolism, etc.
  8. Identify the poem’s theme(s).
  9. Describe what kind of person the speaker seems to be.
  10. In their own words, explain what they think each line of the poem means. Why did the author choose the words they did?

Poetry can be a freeing and creative outlet for kids. Also, poems can encourage students to experiment and play with language while practicing their critical thinking skills. Whatever age your child is, it’s always a good time to encourage them to explore, read, listen to, and write their own poetry.

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