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Poetry Activities

Bag of Beans draws upon lots of different types of storytelling.  The number challenges are in rhyming couplets? Perhaps you could lay a poetry treasure hunt around the school with the children writing clues for other classes to follow?

The following exercises may help in creating poetry with your class.

Writing a collaborative poem
Word Burst:

To generate ideas, subjects, images and stories, work individually as a whole group or small groups. Write a key word at the centre of a large piece of paper and write as many words as you can think of that are connected to it. Consider these new words? What other words do these suggest write them down also, perhaps in a different colour? What words do these suggest? Perhaps paper could be passed on at each new stage, like the party game consequences. When you have had a three of four rounds look at the sheets and talk about them what themes, images or ideas recur? Are there any unexpected things that warrant further discussion?

The words below might be good as a starting point:

Home – warm, friendly, bed, food
Morning – brightness, light, warmth, breakfast

Here are some more words to consider:

Green            Giant
Mother Castle
Clouds Hen
Grow Land

  • Encourage the children to think about all of the senses. Stress that everyone might have a very different idea about what each word means to them; it is a very personal thing.
  • Now ask the children to write a poem using one word as a stimulus. The poem can be as imaginative and fragmentary as they wish, and it doesn’t have to rhyme.  The pupils could work in groups and take what each pupils has written alongside each word as a starting point for each line.
  • Share the poems as a class, or in smaller groups. Some children might even want to bring the poems to life using their bodies, and dramatise their readings.


Poems for the senses

Writing independently, choose a key word, or a word from a word burst (see above) and apply a different sense with each new stanza so:

If I could see the clouds they would look like cotton wool
If I could touch the clouds it would feel like…..
If I could smell the clouds….
If I could hear ….
If I could taste …
If I could speak to the clouds ……. I would say…..

Each stanza could stand as a poem in its own right and be combined with others from the class to complete the range of senses.

Writing to a structure

Some stories, such as Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes, use strong rhyming or rhythmic patterns:

Jack led the old brown cow away,
And came back later in the day,
And said, ‘Oh mumsie dear, guess what
‘Your clever little boy has got.
‘I got, I really don’t know how,
‘A super trade-in for our cow.’
The mother said, ‘You little creep,
‘I’ll bet you sold her much too cheap.’

What does this do for the story?

Creating poems that are inspired by Jack and the Beanstalk

A rhyme or chant is central to the traditional telling of Jack and the Beanstalk:

Fe fi fo fum
I smell the blood of an Englishman
Be he alive
Or be he dead
I’ll grind his bones to make my bread

This little verse uses a pattern of set syllables.  4 syllables, 9 syllables, 4 syllables, 4 syllables, 9 syllables for each line respectively.

The version that the storytellers use has uses roughly 10 syllables per line of alternate weak strong stresses (iambic pentameter, Shakespeare wrote using this pattern)

Can you experiment with rhyme structures and write some verse of you own?  Try clapping the rhythm of different words first to find out how many syllables they are made of.

Perhaps you could write rhymes to encourage the hen to lay or the beanstalk to grow using different rhyming or rhythmic patterns

Examples of Rhyme Schemes

Rhyming verse – every line rhymes

A/B rhymes schemes – the first line rhymes with the third line and the second line rhymes with the fourth etc.

Rhyming couplets – the first two lines rhyme with each other and the second two lines rhyme with each other etc

A Limerick – the first two lines rhyme, the second two lines rhyme, and have 8 syllables each. The  third and fourth lines are shorter (with 5 or 6 syllables) and rhyme with each other.  The fifth line is the final one and rhymes with the first two. For example:

There was an old lady from Leeds
Who swallowed a packet of seeds
In less than an hour
Her head was in flower
And her chin was all covered with weeds

Haiku – a very short poem of only three lines.  It does not rhyme but has five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second and five in the third. Here is an example:

I am first with five
Then seven in the middle —
Five again to end.


Rhyming Dictionary

In small groups construct a rhyming dictionary.  Use three starter words at the head of a column.  Think of as many words as you can that rhyme with your heading words. You could choose different words appropriate to your topic or the abilities of your children.

Chop – drop, shop, plop, stop, cop
Leaf – beef, thief, grief, teeth
Cow – now, how, plough, bough (as in tree), bow


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