Category: Lessons

How to Write an Alphabet Poem

How to Write an Alphabet Poem by Kenn Nesbitt

Today, we’re embarking on a journey into the world of “alphabet poems.” If you’ve enjoyed creating acrostic poems, where the first letters of each line spell out a word or phrase, you’re going to love alphabet poems!

In alphabet poems, each line starts with a different letter of the alphabet, following the order from A to Z. It’s like weaving a magical tapestry with words, where every letter is a new stroke of your imagination. Imagine combining the fun of acrostics with the thrill of exploring the entire alphabet! So, let’s get our pencils ready and explore every letter in a new and exciting way with alphabet poems!

What is an Alphabet Poem?

An alphabet poem is a playful and creative way to use the ABCs in poetry. Just like in acrostic poems, where the first letters of each line spell out a word, in alphabet poems, each line starts with the letters of the alphabet, in order.

Starting with A and ending with Z, each line of the poem begins with the next letter in the alphabet. This creates a fun challenge: you get to think of a word or idea that starts with each letter. It’s like a puzzle where each piece is a letter that helps to build a beautiful picture with your words.

For example, if you’re writing about nature, your poem might start with A for ‘Autumn leaves,’ then B for ‘Breezes blowing,’ and so on. The challenge is to connect each line in a way that tells a story or paints a picture, making your way from A to Z.

Alphabet poems are not just fun; they’re a great way to learn new words and think about how to fit ideas together in creative ways. Ready to give it a try? Let’s find out more about why writing alphabet poems is not only enjoyable but also a great exercise for your brain!

How to Write Your Own Alphabet Poem

Writing an alphabet poem is like going on a treasure hunt with letters! Here’s how you can create your very own:

1. Choose a Theme: Start by picking a theme you love – it could be animals, your family, outer space, or even your favorite hobby. This theme will guide your poem from A to Z.

2. Start with A and Continue Through Z: Begin your poem with a word or idea that starts with A. For example, ‘A is for Apples, red and bright.’ Then move on to B, like ‘B is for Berries, sweet and light,’ and keep going through the alphabet.

3. Be Creative with Challenging Letters: Letters like Q, X, and Z can be tricky, but they’re also a chance to be extra creative! For Q, you could write ‘Quiet nights with twinkling stars.’ For X, think outside the box – ‘Xylophone tunes ringing clear’ or use words that start with an X sound, like ‘eXtraordinary day.’ And for ‘Z,’ try something like ‘Zebras racing in my dreams.’

4. Connect Your Lines: Try to make each line connect to the next in some way, either through rhyme, rhythm, or a continuing story or theme. This will make your poem flow nicely.

5. Have Fun and Experiment: The most important part is to have fun and play around with words and ideas. Alphabet poems are a great way to experiment with language and see where your imagination takes you.

Here’s an example of how the beginning of an alphabet poem with an animal theme might look:

A is for Ants, marching so small,
B is for Butterflies, fluttering tall,
C is for Cats, stretching their claws,
D is for Dogs, pointing their paws,

Or you might simply use words that start with each letter. Here’s the beginning of an alphabet poem with a nature theme:

Arctic snows are white and cold.
Beaches’ sands are warm and gold.
Caves are chambers underground.
Deserts have cactus all around.

Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to write an alphabet poem. They don’t even have to rhyme! It’s all about exploring words and having fun with the letters of the alphabet.

Time to Write!

Now that you’ve explored the exciting world of alphabet poems, it’s time to put pencil to paper and create your own. Remember, each letter in the alphabet is like a key, unlocking your imagination and creativity. As you write your alphabet poems, you’re not only having fun with words, but you’re also learning and growing as a writer.

Don’t worry if some letters seem hard at first. Every poet faces challenges, and it’s all part of the adventure. The most important thing is to enjoy the process and see where your creativity takes you.

So, keep playing with words, experimenting with ideas, and most of all, keep enjoying the wonderful journey of poetry. We can’t wait to see the amazing alphabet poems you create. Each one will be as unique and special as you are!

Happy writing, and may your alphabet adventures be filled with fun and discovery!

Kenn Nesbitt
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How to Write Nonsense Verse

How to Write Nonsense Verse by Kenn Nesbitt

Today, we’re going to dive into a super fun and silly type of poetry called “nonsense verse.” Have you ever heard a poem that made you giggle with its silly words and funny sounds? That’s what nonsense verse is all about!

Poets like Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll were masters of this playful poetry. They created poems that twist and turn language in the most delightful ways. Nonsense verse is like a playful dance of words, where anything is possible and everything is amusing. So, let’s jump into this wacky world and discover how to create our own nonsense verse!

What is Nonsense Verse?

Nonsense verse is a type of poetry that’s all about having fun with words and sounds. It doesn’t have to make sense in the way that other poems or stories do. In fact, the more playful and silly it is, the better!

In nonsense verse, poets use made-up words, silly phrases, and funny rhymes to create a world where the imagination can run wild. These poems often sound musical and have a rhythm that makes them fun to say out loud. They can include fantastical creatures, absurd situations, and lots of humor.

Nonsense verse has been brought to life by some incredibly imaginative poets. Here are a few snippets to tickle your funny bone:

Edward Lear, known for his quirky limericks, wrote poems like this:

On the top of the Crumpetty Tree
The Quangle Wangle sat,
But his face you could not see,
On account of his Beaver Hat.
For his Hat was a hundred and two feet wide,
With ribbons and bibbons on every side
And bells, and buttons, and loops, and lace,
So that nobody ever could see the face
Of the Quangle Wangle Quee.

It’s silly, it’s whimsical, and it makes you wonder about such a crazy creature!

Lewis Carroll gave us the famous “Jabberwocky” and many other nonsense poems in his book Through the Looking-Glass. Here’s a part of it:

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Notice how these lines are filled with made-up words that sound fun and create a fantastical image in your mind? Nonsense verse allows poets to play with language in the most creative ways. It’s like opening a door to a world where anything can happen, and usually does!

How to Write Your Own Nonsense Verse

Now it’s your turn to write some silly, whimsical nonsense verse! Here are some tips to help you get started:

1. Invent Fun Words: Don’t worry if the words don’t exist; make them up! Think of sounds you like and play around with them. How about ‘flibberflabber’, ‘whizzlewomp’, or ‘gloopityglop’? Then just string them together in a poem, like this:

The flibberflabber from Whizzlewomp
was glooppityglopping along.
He dumbledrummed on his bizzlebomp
while singitysanging a song.

If you need help making up new nonsense words, I’ve got a whole lesson right here on how, when, and why to make up words!

2. Create Silly Characters or Situations: Maybe there’s a cat who loves to tap dance, or a moon that likes to eat cheese. The crazier, the better!

3. Use Rhyme and Rhythm: Try to make your lines rhyme in a funny way, and give your poem a bouncy rhythm. It makes your nonsense verse even more enjoyable to read aloud.

4. Let Your Imagination Run Wild: There are no rules. If you want a purple sky or a talking shoe, go for it! Nonsense verse is all about breaking the boundaries of the ordinary.

5. Have Fun with It: Remember, the goal is to have fun and be creative. Don’t worry about making sense. The more nonsensical, the better! That’s why it’s called nonsense verse.

Here’s a little example to inspire you:

In the town of Giggleswick,
Lived a jolly bumbleflick,
With ears of seven different hues,
And eighteen pairs of talking shoes.

Hop to It!

Now, grab your pen and let those wacky, wonderful ideas flow. Who knows what fantastic nonsense verse you’ll create! Remember, the most important part of this creative journey is to let your imagination soar and to have loads of fun.

Whether your poem is about a flying pancake or a whispering tree, every line you write is a celebration of your creativity. Nonsense verse isn’t just about writing; it’s about enjoying the wild and wonderful side of language and life.

So, keep inventing those zany words and wacky worlds. Share your poems with friends and family, and see how your laughter and joy spread. Every nonsense verse you write is a masterpiece of imagination, and the world is eager to hear your unique and silly voice.

Here’s to your fantastic adventures in the land of nonsense verse! Happy writing!

Kenn Nesbitt
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How to Write a Kenning Poem

What is a Kenning?

wave traveler

Imagine you are a secret agent, and instead of saying the name of something directly, you say it in a secret code; you describe it in a clever new way. That’s what a “kenning” does! A kenning is like a little riddle made of two words that describe something without using its name. For example, instead of “ocean,” you might say “whale-road.” Instead of “boat” you might say “wave-traveler.”  Sounds fun, right?

Origins of Kenning Poems


Kenning poems come from long ago, used by the Vikings and people in Northern Europe. Yes, even Vikings wrote poetry! These poems didn’t just tell a story; they made it exciting with these special word puzzles.

Creating Kennings

To create your own kennings, think about the attributes (qualities or features) and actions (things it does) of your chosen subject. Look for clues to describe your subject in a fun way.

  • Attributes: These are things that describe what your subject is like. If your subject is a tree, its attributes include branches, leaves, a trunk, it’s height, etc. So, you could create kennings like “branch-tower” or “leaf-waver.”
  • Actions: These are things that your subject does. If your subject is a dog, it might “bark,” “run,” or “wag its tail.” From these actions, you could think of kennings like “bark-maker” or “tail-wagger.”

By focusing on both what your subject is like and what it does, you can come up with a whole world of creative kennings. This makes your poem not just a bunch of words, but a lively picture painted with your imagination!

How to Write Your Kenning Poem

1. Choose a Topic: Pick something you like or find interesting. It could be an animal (a cat, a fish, a dinosaur, etc.) a place (your school, the beach, the moon, and so on), or even a person (an artist, a football player, a character from a book or movie, you get the idea).

2. Brainstorm Kennings: Think of descriptive and fun ways to talk about your topic without saying its name. If your topic is a “book,” you might think of “story-haven” or “page-palace.”

3. Put Your Kennings Together: Start putting these kennings into short lines to form a poem. Remember, there’s no need for it to rhyme, and your poem can have as many or as few kennings as you like!

4. Be Creative: The best part about kenning poems is how creative you can be. Mix and match words and see what interesting kennings you can come up with!

Example Kenning Poem

If I choose a cat as my topic, my kenning poem might look like this:


Or, if I were writing about the ocean, I might create something like this:


This poem uses kennings to describe various aspects of the ocean, from its interaction with the moon and tides to its role as a habitat for marine life and a path for ships. It paints a picture of the ocean’s vast and dynamic nature.

Give it a Title

Once you are done writing your kenning poem, give it a title. If you want people to know ahead of time what your poem is about, try using the subject as the title. For example, you might simply call your poem “Cat” or “Ocean.”

On the other hand, if you want your poem to be more of a puzzle for readers to figure out, give it a title such as “What Am I?” or “Who Am I?” Then the kennings in your poem are clues to the mystery in the title’s question. Here’s an example. It’s up to you to figure out what this kenning poem is about.

What Am I?


Your Turn!

Now it’s your turn to become a kenning poet. Pick a topic, brainstorm your kennings, and put them into a poem. Have fun, and remember, there’s no wrong way to create your kenning poem! It’s all about using your imagination and having fun with words. Happy writing!

Kenn Nesbitt
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How to Write Lyric and Dramatic Poetry

What Is Lyric Poetry?

You’ve probably heard the word “lyric” before, meaning the words of a song. Today we’re going to be talking about another meaning of the same word. We’re going to talk about lyric poetry.

Because “lyric poetry” and “song lyrics” sound similar, it’s easy to mix them up, but they’re really two different things. Lyrics in a song are just the words that go with the music, whether they describe the singer’s feelings or not. But a “lyric poem” is a special kind of poetry where you express your feelings and thoughts, no music needed.

While some kinds of poems tell stories, or describe things, In a lyric poem, you share your emotions, moods, and feelings. Whether you’re super excited, kind of sad, maybe a bit angry, or even if you’re just marveling at the beauty of a sunset, lyric poems capture these moments and put them into words.

Because lyric poems express the poet’s emotions, they are usually written from the poet’s point, using words like “I” and “my” rather than talking about something or someone else. In other words, you might say, “I am feeling happy” rather than “Hannah’s feeling happy.” Got it?


And, lastly, lyric poems are usually short and often rhyme because, in ancient times, they were meant to be sung and accompanied by a musical instrument, such as a lyre, a small instrument like a tiny harp. In fact, the word lyric comes from “lyre.” Pretty cool, right?

What About “Dramatic” Poetry?

Some lyric poems are also “dramatic poems.” A dramatic poem is a lyric poem that describes emotions about a situation in a way that’s very expressive, almost like you’re acting on a stage. They’re not just about your feelings; they’re meant to be read aloud, maybe even acted out before an audience.

In other words, all dramatic poems are lyric poems, but not all lyric poems are dramatic poems. Make sense?

A Few Fun Examples

In each of these lyric poems, the poet is expressing their emotions about something:

  • In the shape poem “Pizza, Pizza, I Love You” the poet shares their feelings of love with their favorite food.
  • In the poem “Zoom Gloom” the poet complains about how bored they are with remote learning.
  • And in “Whenever It’s December” the poet describes the joy of remembering the year past and looking forward to the new one.

Now, let’s get you writing your own lyric poem! Here are several ways to start…

Choose a Feeling

Think of a feeling you want to write about. It could be happiness, sadness, excitement, or even wonder. Write it down, and maybe add a detail or two, like this:

I’m angry! I’m angry! I just want to scream!


I’ve never been as happy as the way I’m feeling now.

Then continue your poem, telling the world what it is that you are angry or happy or excited about.

Pick a Moment

Or pick a moment that was filled with emotion, like the first time you played in the snow, or a particularly disgusting food you had to eat, and get started. But rather than describe it in the past, place yourself in the moment, as if it’s happening to you now. Maybe your poem begins like this:

I can’t believe I didn’t know,
I love, I love, I love the snow!

or maybe this:

This Brussels sprout that’s on my plate
is something that I truly hate.

Write About Something You Like or Don’t Like

If you can’t think of a moment or a feeling, maybe just think of something you like or don’t like. Love your Xbox? Write about that. Can’t wait for the end of the school year? Tell the world about it! Wish that your cat would stop attacking you? There’s even a lyric poem in that.

One of my favorite lyric poem that describes something the poet doesn’t like is “Homework! Oh, Homework!” by Jack Prelutsky, which begins like this:

Homework! Oh, Homework!
I hate you! You stink!
I wish I could wash you away in the sink,
if only a bomb
would explode you to bits.
Homework! Oh, homework!
You’re giving me fits.

Useful Tips for Writing Lyric Poetry

Now that you know how to get started writing a lyric poem, here are a few more tips to help you as you write:

Use Descriptive Words: To make your poem vivid, use descriptive words. For example, if you’re writing about you feel when you visit the beach, you can talk about the ‘sparkling blue waves’ or the ‘soaring white seagulls.’ These descriptions help your readers picture and feel what you’re saying.

Create Short Lines: Lyric poems usually have short lines and often rhyme, though they don’t have to. Instead of writing long sentences or paragraphs, try writing short lines with just a few words, and maybe rhyming just a bit. Look at the examples above to see what I mean.

Read Lyric Poems Written by Other Poets: The more lyric poems you read that were written by others, the more ideas and inspiration you will get. Reading lots of poems will show you many different ways to go about expressing your own emotions in poetry. (Just remember not to copy other poets’ words, but to use your own instead.)

Share Your Feelings: Don’t be shy about putting your feelings into words. After all, that is the whole point of lyric poems. If a walk in the woods made you feel peaceful, write about that peaceful feeling. If it excited you, let that excitement show in your words.

Read it Aloud: Once you’ve written your poem, read it out loud. Lyric poetry is about expressing emotion, and hearing the words can help you feel if the emotion is coming through.

And remember…

There’s No Right or Wrong: In poetry, your feelings and how you express them are always right.

Practice Makes Perfect: The more you write, the better you’ll get at expressing yourself.

Have Fun: Writing poetry is like painting with words. So enjoy the process of creating something new and expressive!

Kenn Nesbitt
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How to Write a Triolet

How to Write a Triolet

Have you ever wanted to try your hand at a type of poem with a unique pattern? Let’s dive into the magical world of the triolet (pronounced “tree-oh-lay”). The triolet is a short and fun poem that comes with its very own set of rules. Let’s explore how to write one!

What is a Triolet?

A triolet is an 8-line poem that has a specific rhyme scheme and repeats some of its lines.

It is a cool type of poem was invented in France a long, long time ago (way back in the 13th century!). Its name sort of sounds like “triple,” which makes sense because the poem repeats its first line three times.

People in France loved using the triolet for songs and short poems. Later on, this style of poem traveled to England, where famous poets like Robert Bridges and Thomas Hardy played with its fun pattern. They liked how it was short, but still had a special rhythm and repeating lines.

So, the triolet is a poem that’s been loved by many for hundreds of years, all because of its neat style!

The Rules

Like all poetic forms, triolets have their own set of rules. The most important rules

  • Rhyme Scheme: The triolet follows this rhyme pattern: ABaAabAB. The capital letters mean those lines are repeated. The lower case letters mean those lines rhyme with the upper case ones, but aren’t repeated lines. If you aren’t familiar with rhyme schemes, this lesson plan explains them.
  • Repetition: Lines 1, 4, and 7 are the same. Lines 2 and 8 are the same too!
  • Line Length: While there’s no strict rule for how long each line should be, it’s good to keep them similar in length. You can count the number of syllables or the number of feet to make sure your lines are the same length.
  • Rhythm: Just like the line length, triolets don’t have to have a certain rhythm. However, it’s best if all your lines have the same rhythm as one another.

Here’s an example triolet by the poet Laura Purdie Salas:

Bees of Winter

Winter bees beat wings of snow (A)
to form a storm—a blizzard swarm— (B)
when frosty Arctic breezes blow. (a)
Winter bees beat wings of snow, (A)
dancing high and diving low. (a)
The wind’s the stage where they perform. (b)
Winter bees beat wings of snow (A)
to form a storm–a blizzard swarm. (B)

—Copyright © Laura Purdie Salas. All Rights Reserved

See? Lines 1, 4, and 7 are identical, as are lines 2 and 8! In other words, the (A) and (B) lines are repeated. You’ll also notice that the (a) lines rhyme with the (A) lines, and the (b) line rhyme with the (B) lines. And, if you count them, you’ll see that all the lines in this poem are about the same length, each having seven or eight syllables.

Tips for Ideas

  • Nature: Just like our sample poem about bees in winter, nature can inspire countless poems. Think about the sun, rain, trees, or animals.
  • Emotions: How do you feel today? Happy, sad, excited, or maybe curious? Write about it!
  • Everyday Life: Something as simple as your breakfast, a game you played, or a chat with a friend can become a great poem.
  • Dreams & Fantasies: Dragons, mermaids, spaceships – let your imagination run wild!

Everyone, even the greatest poets, started with their first poem. Don’t worry if your triolet isn’t perfect on the first try. What’s important is to have fun and express yourself. Remember, poetry is a way to play with words, and there’s no right or wrong. So, grab a pen and paper, and let your creative spirit shine!


Kenn Nesbitt
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Can You Make Up Words?

Made-Up Words

Hey there young poets and word wizards! Today, I want to talk to you about a super fun part of writing: making up words! Have you ever wondered if it’s okay to create your own words? The answer is a big, booming YES! But there’s a little secret to it. Let’s dive in.

Why Make Up Words?

Imagine a world where there are no boundaries to your imagination, a place where you can create anything you like. This is what happens when you make up words! It’s like painting with colors that no one else has ever seen.

The Rules

Here’s the thing: just like with any kind of magic, there are some guidelines. If you decide to make up words, they should have a purpose. That means we don’t just throw letters together like spaghetti on a wall. Instead, we craft them like a sculptor, making sure every new word has a reason to exist in our story or poem.

Dr. Seuss: The Word Magician

Let’s talk about one of the most famous word inventors—Dr. Seuss. Have you ever heard of a “Zizzer-Zazzer-Zuzz” or “Truffula trees” or even a “nerd?” Dr. Seuss loved to create words that were fun to say and added sparkle to his stories. But if you notice, every made-up word in his books fits perfectly with the world he’s creating. They have a rhyme, a rhythm, and a reason.

Roald Dahl and His Whimsical Words

Then there’s Roald Dahl—the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory—another wizard of words! Words like “whizzpopping” and “snozzcumber” make his stories come alive in a zany, unique way. What’s super cool about Dahl is that some of his fanciful words weren’t entirely made up! He borrowed playful words like “hornswoggle” and “whangdoodle.” These words sound silly to us, but they were actually old-timey talk in America. So, while they sound new and fantastical in Dahl’s British stories, they were a wink to older, playful language from across the pond!

In fact, there’s even a Roald Dahl Dictionary that lists all of his invented words and even tells you what they mean. So if you need to know the difference between a “trogglehumper” and a “gobstopper,” or what it means to be “biffsquiggled,” (or if you just love reading about made-up words like I do!) this might be just the book for you.

The Power of a Single Word 

Speaking of inventing words, have you ever heard of the book “Frindle” by Andrew Clements? In this captivating story, a boy named Nick Allen comes up with a new word for a pen: “frindle.” What starts as a simple act of creativity becomes a sensation when he convinces his friends to use it. The magic of this tale? The word catches on so much that it eventually finds its way into the dictionary! It just goes to show that with imagination, persistence, and a little bit of fun, a single made-up word can leave a lasting mark on the world.

The Magic of ‘Jabberwocky’ and Lewis Carroll’s Wordplay

Lewis Carroll, the mastermind behind Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, even gifted us with the nonsense poem “Jabberwocky.” This poem, found in the sequel Through the Looking-Glass, is filled with playful and puzzling words like “slithy,” “mimsy,” “toves,” and “borogoves.” These invented words might seem confusing at first, but they paint a vivid picture in our minds, even if we don’t know their exact meanings. Carroll’s genius lay in his ability to craft words that sounded just right for the creatures and scenes they described. In fact, some of the words he invented for this poem, including “chortle” and “galumph,” can now be found in any English-language dictionary. Carroll invented them, and they became “real” words, just like Nick Allen’s “frindle.”

The Art of Crafting Words in Poetry

When writing poetry, you can make up words just like Dr. Seuss and Lewis Carroll did, but you have be careful. Poetry is like music, and every word has to hit the right note. Sometimes, poets might feel the urge to invent a word just because they can’t find the perfect rhyme. This is a pitfall we call a “forced rhyme,” and it can make your poem feel, well, forced! It’s like putting a square peg in a round hole; it just doesn’t fit. Dr. Seuss, for instance, didn’t make up words just to rhyme. He did it with intention, crafting each word to fit perfectly into his poetic landscape.

And guess what? I’ve done it, and you can do it too. In my poem “Today I Decided to Make up a Word” I invented dozens of new words. I didn’t create them because I was stuck; I did it purposefully to add magic to the poem. When making up words in poems, always ask: is this word here for a genuine reason or just as a quick fix? If it’s there for a reason, rhyme on with pride! If it’s just because you can’t think of a real word, maybe try a little harder.

New Words Around Us

And guess what? Many words we use every day are pretty new to our language! Every year, people come up with cool new words for things or ideas that didn’t have names before. Just like how you might invent games or secret codes with your friends, grown-ups have been creating words like “selfie,” “emoji,” and “meme” in recent years. It’s like a never-ending word party, and everyone’s invited!

One of my personal favorites is the word “blog.” “Blog” came from the words “web log.” The word “weblog” was coined by Jorn Barger on December 17, 1997 to mean an internet diary or journal. Later, in 1999, Peter Merholz jokingly broke the word “weblog” into the phrase “we blog” on his own site, From there, “blog” emerged as a term for both the action (“to blog” meaning “to update one’s weblog”) and for the online journals themselves.

You Can Do It Too!

So, here’s your challenge. The next time you’re writing, try making up a word. But remember:

1. Purpose: Think about why this word exists in your story. Does it describe something new? Does it set a mood?
2. Sound: Say it out loud. Does it sound fun? Does it fit the feeling of your poem or story?
3. Meaning: Even if it’s a made-up word, readers should get a hint about what it means from the way you use it.

To all the budding poets and writers out there, remember that words are your tools and toys. Play with them, reshape them, and invent some of your own! After all, today’s made-up word might just become tomorrow’s newest addition to the dictionary.

Kenn Nesbitt
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How to Write an Opposite Day Poem

Opposite Day poem writing lesson for kids

If you’re ever bored and feel like you need a change of pace, it’s time to declare that it’s “Opposite Day,” a day to do things the opposite of the way you normally would.

Put your clothes on backward, walk in reverse, or claim that candy tastes awful. Try walking on your hands or writing with your feet. Have a staring contest with your eyes closed. You get the idea.

You can also try writing an Opposite Day poem. Start by stating that today is Opposite Day with a few lines, like this:

It’s Opposite Day!
It’s Opposite Day!
The day to do things
in the opposite way.

An Opposite Day poem is a kind of list poem. In other words, the middle of the poem is a list of everything you do differently from normal days. So, think of as many backward, reverse, and opposite things as possible and write them down. You don’t have to rhyme them, but it’s fun to try. Here are a few examples I thought of:

I write with my foot and
I kick with my hand.
I stare with my eyes closed.
I sit down to stand.

I drink from a plate and
I eat from a cup.
I climb into bed when
it’s time to wake up.

What other kinds of things can you do in the opposite way? Could you frown when you’re happy and smile when you’re sad? Wear your shoes on your head and your hat on your feet? Sit still on the swings and go up the slide instead of down?

Think of as many opposite things as possible and soon you’ll have a nice long list for your poem. Then all you need is an ending. I recommend something funny, like this:

I stand still for dancing.
When running, I crawl.
So please understand:
I don’t like you at all.

Or how about an ending like this one?

It’s Opposite Day!
Oh, wait, that’s not right.
I think we should change it
to Opposite Night!

If you like, feel free to use the beginning and one of the endings that I wrote, and then make your own list in the middle.

When you’re done writing your Opposite Day poem, be sure not to share it with me. I would hate to read it. ;-)

Kenn Nesbitt
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How to Write a Sonnet

A Poetry-Writing Lesson for Kids

William Shakespeare

The sonnet is one of the most common traditional poetic forms. They have been written for hundreds of years with some of the most well-known sonnets written by William Shakespeare.

Though the sonnet was originally created in Italy, with the earliest sonnets written in Italian, they have been written in English, French, Dutch, German, and many other languages as well.

In the English language, there are two main kinds of sonnets: the “English” (or “Shakespearean”) sonnet and the “Spenserian” sonnet, named after the poet Edmund Spenser.

In this lesson, you will learn how to write an English sonnet because this is the most common type of sonnet.

The Rules of the Sonnet

In poetry, a “form” is a set of rules describing how to write that kind of poem. English sonnets have these rules:

  • They are fourteen lines long.
  • The fourteen lines are divided into three groups, or “stanzas,” of four lines each, followed by a final two-line “couplet.” (A four-line stanza is also known as a “quatrain.” A couplet is two lines together that rhyme.)
  • Each of the fourteen lines is ten syllables long.

In addition to the number of lines, and the number of syllables per line, sonnets also have a special rhyme scheme:

  • Each of the three stanzas has an ABAB rhyme scheme. This means that the first and third lines of each stanza rhyme with each other, and the second and fourth lines rhyme with each other.
  • The final couplet has an AA rhyme scheme, meaning that those two lines rhyme with one another.

Lastly, the first line of a sonnet should state the “theme.” In other words, it should say what the sonnet is about. And the final couplet should give the reader a “conclusion” or ending to the poem.

Because of all these rules, sonnets can be more challenging to write than shorter, simpler poetic forms such as haiku, diamantes, or cinquains. But it can also be more rewarding to know that you can write a poem like Shakespeare did.

Getting Started

The first thing you need to do to write a sonnet is figure out what you want to write about. You can write a sonnet about anything, but it’s easiest to write about something you know. Since you now know all the rules for writing a sonnet, why not write a sonnet about that? Here’s an example:

My Teacher Said to Write a Sonnet Now

My teacher said to write a sonnet now.
She told me, “It should be a work of art.”
I’d like to but I’m really not sure how.
I wish someone would show me where to start.

I heard the rhymes should be ABAB,
which means I can’t rhyme every single word.
The second and the fourth lines rhyme, you see.
And you should rhyme the first line with the third.

The first three stanzas all have four lines each.
The final couplet? That has only two.
A sonnet’s not an easy thing to teach.
I guess that’s what this poem aims to do.

It seems that starting was the hardest part.
I hope the teacher likes my work of art.

Another good thing to write a sonnet about is something you like. For example, I like my dog, so I thought I’d write a sonnet about him. However, since I also like funny poems, I decided to make up a funny – not true – story about him. Here it is:

My Dog Is Not the Smartest Dog Alive

My dog is not the smartest dog alive.
He says that submarines know how to dance.
He seems to think that two plus two is five.
He’s sure Japan’s the capital of France.

My dog declares that tigers grow on trees.
He tells me that he’s twenty-nine feet tall.
He argues only antelopes eat cheese,
then adds that ants are good at basketball.

He swears the sun is made of candy bars.
It seems to me my dog is pretty dense.
He says he’s seen bananas play guitars.
He talks a lot but doesn’t make much sense.

Although I love my dog with all my heart,
I have to say, he isn’t very smart.

Your Turn

Now that you know how to write a sonnet, why not give it a try yourself? Write one about your favorite game or pet or food, about your friends or family, or even about how hard it is to write a sonnet. And, most importantly, have fun!


Kenn Nesbitt
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List of Rhyming Interjections

Rhyming Interjections

An interjection is a word or phrase that is most often used as an exclamation, such as wow, hey, or ugh, or sometimes used just to stall for time, such as uh, and er. The following list of interjections that rhyme with one another may come in handy for your own poems.

  • achoo, boo, boo-hoo, eww, no can do, ooh, phew, pooh, shoo, wahoo, whew, whoop-de-doo, woo, woo-hoo, yahoo
  • ah, aha, aww, bah, blah, booyah, bwah-hah-hah, ha, ha-ha, hah, hurrah, huzzah, la-de-da, mwah-hah-hah, nah, pshaw, rah, ta-da, ta-ta, voila, yee-haw
  • ahoy, attaboy, boy, enjoy, oh boy, oy
  • alright, gesundheit, quite, right, sleep tight
  • bam, blam, wham
  • bravo, doh, heigh-ho, hello, ho-ho-ho, no, oh, uh-oh, whoa, yo, yo-ho-ho
  • brr, er, grr
  • bye, goodbye, hi, my, sigh, why
  • dear me, gee, hee-hee, omg, tee-hee, whee, whoopee, yippee
  • drats, rats
  • duck, yuck
  • duh, huh, uh, uh-huh, uh-uh
  • eh, gangway, hey, hurray, no way, okay, olé, say, touché, yay
  • encore, fore
  • hmm, mh-hmm, mmm
  • ho-hum, ummm, yum
  • holy cow, kapow, now now, ow, pow, wow, yow
  • meh, yeah
  • oops, whoops
  • swell, well
  • wowie, zowie

Click here for other lists of rhyming words.

How to Write an Onomatopoeia Poem

Onomatopoeia Poem

In this lesson, I’ll show you an easy way to write an “onomatopoeia poem,” or what I like to call an “onomatopoem,” even though that isn’t a real word. And I’ll show you why you want to include onomatopoeia in your poems.

An onomatopoeia (pronounced on-uh-mah-tuh-pee-uh) is a word that sounds like the action it describes. For example, the word “boom” sounds like an explosion, and the word “moo” sounds like the noise a cow makes.

Using onomatopoeia in a poem can engage the reader’s senses with more vivid imagery and heightened sensory impact, without having to use additional words. If your poem contains actions, it’s a good idea to include onomatopoeia in your writing. Let me give you an example. Let’s say you were writing a poem about skiing and you said:

Skiing down the snowy hill

This describes what you are doing, and the reader can certainly visualize it. But what if, instead, you said:

Swooshing down the snowy hill

Do you see how this evokes the sense of sound? If gives the reader not just a visual image of the skier, but also the sound that their skis make on the snow, and perhaps even the side-to-side motion of the skis, all without adding extra words.

Poetry Is Condensed Language

Poetry is often described as “condensed language,” meaning that it tries to convey as much meaning and feeling as possible with few words. If you are writing prose—stories, essays, etc.—you still want to be concise; to avoid using unnecessary words. But it’s also okay to be as descriptive as possible.

In poetry, on the other hand, the more meaning or emotion you can pack into just a few words, the better. With onomatopoeia your words can do double duty, conveying both meaning and sensation. Take a look at this excerpt from my poem “What to Do with a Dinosaur” from my book Revenge of the Lunch Ladies.

This morning a dinosaur tromped into school,
ferocious, atrocious, and dripping with drool.
He had to be practically twenty feet tall,
and banged around looking something to maul.

He stomped and he snorted, he bellowed and roared.
His head hit the ceiling and busted a board.
That beast was undoubtedly ready for lunch.
He snatched up a chair in his teeth with a crunch,

I’ve underlined the onomatopoeia words in these two stanzas to make them easier to spot. As you can see, these words not only describe what the dinosaur is doing, but they evoke the sounds he is making as well. Without the onomatopoeia, it would lose a lot of its impact, as you can see below.

This morning a dinosaur came into school,
ferocious, atrocious, and covered with drool.
He had to be practically twenty feet tall,
and walked around looking something to maul.

In other words, as you write, and as you edit and revise your poems, look for opportunities to replace your verbs with ones that also evoke sounds.

An Easy Onomatopoeia Poem

If you are writing rhyming poetry, sometimes you may even want to rhyme some of your onomatopoeia words. To make this as easy as possible, I have created a list of rhyming onomatopoeia words, such as bash / crash / smash, and growl / howl / yowl.

You could even write an entire poem with almost nothing but onomatopoeia words if you like. Just look at the list of rhyming onomatopoeia words and string a few together, like this:

Grumble, mumble, rumble, crash.
Flutter, mutter, sputter, splash.
Clatter, shatter, splatter, creak.
Crinkle, tinkle, wrinkle, squeak.

You can write as many lines as you want like this. Then all you need is an ending. Here are a couple of ideas:

These are sounds I heard at home.
My house sounds just like a poem.

Or how about this one?

This is not some great idea.
It’s just onomatopoeia.

Now it’s your turn. If you can add a few more lines of onomatopoeia words to this, and maybe even come up with a different ending, you’ll have created your very own “onomatopoem.”

Learning More about Onomatopoeia in Poetry

If you want to learn even more about onomatopoeia in poems, here are some useful lessons:

Kenn Nesbitt
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