Inside: Use poetic devices to teach poetry writing lessons that will get your elementary students writing poetry in no time.
There’s a little-known secret about teaching poetry writing that will blow your mind.
I’m sure you’ve got a few kids in your class that would rather drop their pencil on the floor forty times in a row than write anything. Between letter formation, recalling spelling, and generating ideas, writing asks a lot of kids.
So here’s the secret: Poetry is a struggling writer’s best friend!
You might be in total disbelief but let me explain why.
Poetry DOESN’T need:
- complete sentences
- capital letters
- long length
- or rhyme (that’s right… poetry doesn’t HAVE to rhyme)
You might be thinking, So what IS important in poetry writing?
Throwing out so many of the conventional writing rules frees up kids focus on
- the sounds of words, including rhythm and repetition
- describing things in a new way
- expressing feelings and observations
That’s deep stuff, and you can absolutely make it happen in your classroom! The key is to teach your students about poetry tools (“poetic devices” if you want to be fancy). The chart below shows lots of great ones, but we’ll focus on four that are both simple and powerful.
Start teaching poetry writing right away with a free poetic devices chart. Click HERE
Poetry Skill 1: Using Line Breaks
-Splitting a line of text into two or more shorter lines. This makes the reader slow down or draws their attention to words at the ends of the lines.
Write a few sentences about a favorite place. Experiment with adding line breaks to get the reader to slow down over the best parts. Get rid of extra or unnecessary words.
One of my favorite places is the path on the side of my house. In the spring it is shaded by tall lilac bushes. When the wind blows, tiny purple flowers will fall down on you as you walk through. It smells sweet and fresh.
Version 2, Add line breaks, take out unneeded words-
The Path on the Side of My House
In the spring,
By tall lilac bushes.
When the wind blows,
Tiny purple flowers,
As you walk through.
It smells sweet,
Voila! A poem!
See? You could totally show your students how to do that!
Poetry Skill 2: Similes
–Using “like” or “as” to describe something by comparing it to something else. This helps students to see things in new ways like poets do.
Describe someone you know using similes.
As fast as a rabbit,
Loud like a blasting stereo,
As silly as a clown,
My friend Max.
Poetry Skill 3: Personification
-describing something that is not human by giving it human traits
Describe a tool or machine using personification.
It dances and twirls,
In a puddle of eggs.
Powers through flour,
Sugar, and butter,
Its muscles never tiring,
Like mine would.
Poetry Skill 4: Alliteration
-Using the same beginning sound for two or more words that are near each other. This is one way to make poems sound interesting.
Choose a type of weather to describe using alliteration.
Drops drench the sidewalk,
I stomp and splash
Sending sprays of mud everywhere!
The dry grass drinks up
Every drop it can get.
Did you notice some personification in that last one? Eventually, kids start piecing together more than one device in their poems (especially if you also do this in your demonstrations) and that’s when things get exciting!
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