Category: Lessons

Forced Rhymes and How to Avoid Them

What is a “Forced Rhyme?”

Have you ever written a poem, only to be told that the rhymes sound “forced,” but didn’t know exactly what that meant? It can be confusing, because a “forced rhyme” may be any one of a number of different things. All of them, however, can make a poem less enjoyable to read. So, to improve your poetry as much as possible, you’ll want to learn how to avoid each of the various types of forced rhymes.

Rearranging a phrase to put the rhyme at the end of the line

Probably the most common type of forced rhyme is where the poet says something in an unnatural way in order to make the line rhyme. For example, take a look at this couplet:

Whenever we go out and walk,
with you I like to talk.

Now, in normal, everyday English, you would never say “with you I like to talk.” Instead, you would say “I like to talk with you.” And yet, some poets will write this unnatural way in order to force the lines to rhyme with one another; hence the term “forced” rhyme.

Poetry Dictionary for Kids

A Glossary of Poetic Vocabulary Terms for Children

A B C D E F H I L M N O P Q R S T V W

Poetry has a lot of terms with special meanings. This poetry dictionary for kids lists the most common poetic terms that kids might encounter, along with their definitions. If you need a more extensive poetry dictionary, I recommend the Poetry Foundation’s Glossary of Poetic Terms.

A

Accent
The emphasis placed on some syllables in words more than others. For example, the word “apple” has two syllables, and the accent is on the first syllable, so it is pronounced “AP-pull.” “Banana,” on the other hand, has three syllables, with the accent on the second syllable, so it is pronounced “buh-NA-nuh.”

Acrostic
A form of poem in which the first syllables of each line spell out a word, name, or phrase. See How to Write an Acrostic Poem.

Alliteration
Repeating the consonant sounds at the beginnings of nearby words, such as the “p” sound in the words “My puppy makes pizza” in the poem My Puppy Makes Pizza. See Alliteration and Assonance Lesson Plan.

Anagram
A word or phrase created by rearranging the letters of another word or phrase. For example, “notes” is an anagram of “stone.” See the poem Anna Graham for many more examples of anagrams.

Antonym
A word that has the opposite meaning of another word. For example, “dark” is an antonym of “light.” See also Synonym.

Assonance
Repeating the vowel sounds in the stressed, or accented, syllables in nearby words. For example, in the phrase “flying kites” the repeated long “i” sounds are assonant. See Alliteration and Assonance Lesson Plan.

B

Ballad
A form of poetry, usually suitable for singing, that tells a story in stanzas of two or four lines, and often has a refrain.

C

Cinquain
A five-line poetic form in which the lines have 2, 4, 6, 8, and 2 syllables, in that order. See How to Write a Cinquain Poem.

Clerihew
A four-line humorous poetic form comprised of two rhymed couplets, with the first line usually being the someone’s name. See How to Write a Clerihew.

Close Rhyme
A rhyme of two words that are next to one another or close to one another, such as “Humpty Dumpty,” tighty-whitey,” “fat cat,” or “fair and square.” Not to be confused with Near Rhyme. See List of Words and Phrases that Rhyme with Themselves.

Concrete Poem
A poem in which the meaning is conveyed by the placement and design of the words on the page instead of, or in addition to, the usual arrangement of words. Also sometimes called a “shape poem” or “visual poem.” See How to Write a Concrete or “Shape” Poem.

Consonance
The repetition of consonant sounds within nearby words, especially the consonant sounds at the ends of words, as in “a stroke of luck” or “a bite to eat.”

Couplet
Two lines of poetry, one after the other, that rhyme and are of the same length and rhythm. For example, “I do not like green eggs and ham. / I do not like them Sam I Am.”

D

Double Rhyme
A rhyme where the stress is on the second-to-last syllable of the words, and the end sounds are the same, starting with the vowel of the stressed syllables. Some examples are batter / fatter, ocean / lotion, and camping / stamping. Double rhymes and triple rhymes are also called “feminine rhymes.” See How to Rhyme.

E

End Rhyme
Rhyming words at the ends of the lines of a poem. See also Internal Rhyme.

Epitaph
A short poem written about someone who has died, often inscribed on the headstone of their grave. Epitaphs usually praise the person, and are sometimes humorous. See How to Write a Funny Epitaph Poem.

Exaggeration
To overstate something; to claim that it is bigger, better, faster, smellier, etc. than is actually true. When Larry Made Lasagna is an example of a exaggeration poem. See How to Write an Exaggeration Poem. See also Hyperbole.

F

Feminine Rhyme
A double rhyme or triple rhyme. See also Masculine Rhyme.

Foot
In poetry, a group of two or more syllables, one of which is stressed. Metrical poems are often written in feet with the same number of syllables with the stress in the same place in each foot. For example, the line “My puppy punched me in the eye” is made up of four feet, each with the stress on the second syllable, as in “my PUP | py PUNCHED | me IN | the EYE.” The most common poetic feet are two or three syllables long. See Rhythm in Poetry – The Basics.

Forced Rhyme
Most commonly, an end rhyme where the lines are written in an unnatural manner in order to “force” the words to rhyme. A forced rhyme may also be a near rhyme, wrenched rhyme, or a line where irrelevant or unnecessary information is added to the poem for the sake of making lines rhyme. See Forced Rhymes and How to Avoid Them.

Form
A “type” of poem, written by following a set of rules such as the number of lines or syllables, the placement of rhymes, etc.. Common poetic forms include acrostic, cinquain, free verse, haiku, etc. See Poetry Lessons for Kids to learn how to write many different poetic forms.

Free Verse
A poetic form that avoids using fixed patterns of meter. Free verse often also avoids rhymes, but still may make use of other poetic techniques such as imagery and metaphor, as well as sound devices such as assonance and alliteration. See How to Write a Free Verse Poem.

H

Haiku
A short, unrhymed Japanese poetic form with three lines of five syllables, seven syllables, and five syllables. See How to Write a Haiku.

Homonym
A word that has the same spelling and sound as another word, but a different meaning. For example “fine” (an adjective meaning nice) and “fine” (a noun meaning money you have to pay as a punishment) are homonyms.

Homophone
A word that has the same sound as another word, but a different spelling and meaning. For example, “there,” “their,” and “they’re” are homphones.

Hyperbole
Pronounced “hi-PER-buh-lee.” A extreme and obvious exaggeration, not meant to be believed or taken literally. For example, “he has a million-dollar smile” or “this test is taking forever.” See How to Write an Exaggeration Poem.

I

Imagery
Language and poetic techniques used to appeal to the reader’s senses (sight, sound, smell, etc.) to create mental pictures and cause emotions in the reader. See also Onomatopoeia.

Internal Rhyme
Rhymes within a line of poetry. For example, the poem My Pet Germs contains an internal rhyme on the third line of each stanza.

L

Light Verse
Poetry that is intended to be humorous, amusing, or entertaining. While there is some light verse written in free verse, most light verse is written in rhyme and meter. There are also many light-verse poetic forms, such as limericks, clerihews, double-dactyls, etc.

Limerick
A humorous 5-line poetic form with an AABBA rhyme scheme. See How to Write a Limerick.

Line
A single row of words in a poem. For example, a limerick has five lines, while a haiku has three lines. Lines are one of the main things that distinguish poetry from prose.

List Poem
A poem that contains a list of things, people, places, etc. See How to Write a Funny List Poem.

M

Masculine Rhyme
A single rhyme.

Metaphor
A figure of speech, where a thing is described as being something else in order to suggest a similarity between the two. For example, “The cat was a rag doll in my arms” or “Nature wore its winter robe.”

Meter
Rhythmical patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables in poetry. See also Rhythm.

N

Narrative Poem
A poem that tells a story. Narrative poems usually have a plot and one or more characters.

Near Rhyme
Also called a “slant rhyme” or a “half rhyme,” “near rhyme” is a general term describing words that sound similar, but aren’t a perfect rhyme. Assonance, consonance and sight rhymes are common types of near rhymes. See also Assonance and Alliteration Lesson Plan and Forced Rhymes and How to Avoid Them.

Nonsense Poem
A form of light verse, usually rhymed and metrical, often with strange characters, fantastic or impossible situations, and made-up words. Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky and Edward Lear’s The Owl and the Pussycat are famous examples of nonsense poetry.

Nursery Rhyme
A short, rhyming poem for young children, often telling a short story or describing an interesting character. The most well-known nursery rhymes in the English language are those attributed to Mother Goose. See How to Write a Traditional Nursery Rhyme and How to Write a Fractured Nursery Rhyme.

O

Occasional Poem
A poem written to commemorate a specific occasion or event, such as a birthday, wedding, funeral, anniversary, graduation, military victory, etc.

Onomatopoeia
A word whose sound is similar to the thing or action it refers to, such as “buzz” or “hiss.” See How to Write an Onomatopoeia Poem, List of Rhyming Onomatopoetic Words and Onomatopoeia Poetry Lesson Plan.

P

Palindrome
A word or phrase that is spelled the same backward as it is forward, ignoring spaces, capitalization, and punctuation, such as “Bob,” “mom,” “radar,” “race car,” “madam, I’m Adam,” etc.

Parody
A poem written in the style of another poem, usually humorous. Parodies usually assume the reader is familiar with the original work. For example, the poem “Let Me Out of the Classroom” by Kenn Nesbitt is a parody of the song “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”

Perfect Rhyme
Two words that have exactly the same vowel and consonant sounds at the ends, starting with the first vowel of the last stressed syllable. For example, green/bean, dummy/tummy, and cavity/gravity are all perfect rhymes. Note that the first consonant sound of the last stressed syllable must be different. For example leaf/belief is not a perfect rhyme because the final stressed syllable of each word begins with the same consonant “l” sound. See also: Near Rhyme, Assonance, and Consonance.

Personification
Giving human characteristics to non-human things, such as animals, inanimate objects, or ideas. For example, “The sun smiled down on the beach” or, “The trees waved at the birds flying by.”

Poem
A written composition, often using rhythm, rhyme, metaphor, and other such artistic techniques to express an idea, feelings, or a story.

Poet
A person who writes poems.

Poetry
Literature written in verse, as opposed to prose, often written in metrical lines.

Prose
Ordinary writing or spoken language, usually written in sentences and paragraphs, as opposed to rhythmical lines.

Pun
A “play on words,” usually using homophones or homonyms, where a word or phrase has multiple meanings. For example, “Six was afraid of Seven because Seven ate Nine.” This is a pun because the word “ate” sounds like “eight.”

Q

Quatrain
A four-line poem or stanza.

R

Refrain
A phrase, line, or stanza that is repeated throughout a poem, often after each stanza.

Repetition
Using the same word, phrase, line, or stanza two or more times in a poem. See How to Write a Repetition Poem to learn how to use repetition in your own poetry.

Rhyme
Having the same sound at the end of two or more words such as pine / fine, nickel / pickle, and ability / fragility. See also Perfect Rhyme, Near Rhyme, Wrenched Rhyme, and How to Rhyme Video Lesson Plan.

Rhyme Scheme
The pattern of end rhymes in a poem, written out as letters, such as AABB or ABAB. See Rhyme Schemes Lesson Plan to learn how to write the rhyme scheme of a poem.

Rhythm
The sound and feel created by the pattern of accented and unaccented syllables, usually repeated, in a poem. See also Meter.

S

Sight Rhyme
Words that end with the same letters, but not the same sound, such as rough / cough / plough or prove / love / grove.

Simile
A comparison between to unlike things, usually using “like,” “as,” or “than.” For example, “his imagination was like a bird in flight.”

Single Rhyme
A rhyme in which the stress is on the final syllable of the words, such as cat / hat, and play / away. Also called a “masculine rhyme.” See How to Rhyme.

Stanza
A group of lines in a poem, separated by space from other stanzas, much like a paragraph in prose.

Stress
Same as accent.

Subject
The main idea of a poem, or what the poem is about. For example, Basketball Is Lots of Fun is a poem about basketball, so basketball is the subject.

Syllable
A part of a word, usually a vowel and it’s surrounding consonants, that makes a single sound when spoken. All words have at least one syllable. For example, cat, I, and would are all one syllable long because they are spoken with a single movement of the mouth. Cattle, eyeball, and wouldn’t are all two syllables because they require two separate sounds to be spoken.

Synonym
A word that has the same, or nearly the same, meaning as another word. See also Antonym.

T

Tanka
A 5-line, 31-syllable unrhymed traditional Japanese poetic form, with five syllables on the first and third lines, and seven syllables on the second, fourth, and fifth lines. See also How to Write a Tanka Poem.

Tercet
A group of three lines that rhyme with one another, or are connected to another tercet by their rhyme scheme.

Theme
The main idea or point of a poem. The theme is different than the subject or topic of the poem. The subject is what the poem is about, while the theme is what the poem means. For example, in the poem “We Ate all the Cheetos,” the subject of the poem is eating tasty foods, but the theme of the poem is that it can be hard to eat healthy foods.

Topic
Same a subject.

Triple Rhyme
A rhyme in which the third-to-last syllable in the words final stressed syllable. For example, cavity / gravity, hammering / stammering, and nobility / agility are all triple rhymes. Double rhymes and triple rhymes are also called “feminine rhymes.” See How to Rhyme.

V

Verse
Verse has several meanings, including:

W

Wrenched Rhyme
Rhyming the final syllables of two words, where one is stressed and the other is not. For example the words “sing” and “morning” are a wrenched rhyme because “sing” is stressed on the final (and only) syllable, but “morning” is stressed on the second-to-last syllable. Other examples include tin/imagine, frog/catalog, etc. See also Perfect Rhyme and Forced Rhymes and How to Avoid Them.

Kenn Nesbitt
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How to Host an Open Mic Poetry Party

Having an open mic poetry party is a great way for kids to showcase their talent while encouraging them to keep writing.  Whether the children are budding poets, stand-up comedians, or just need some practice with public speaking, in a few simple steps you can provide everyone with a fun way to enjoy live poetry!

Step One: Decide on a Venue

Think about the type of party you’d like to host.  Will it be a small gathering of friends, perhaps for a birthday or special occasion?  Is it for your class, scout troop, or youth group?  The size of the group, as well as the purpose of the party, will help you determine your venue.

There are many different places that would be great for an open mic night/party.  Libraries have meeting rooms or sometimes stages that can be reserved for free or very low cost.  Book stores and coffee shops often host open mic nights and poetry readings.  Rooms in schools and churches can also provide a nice space.  Even just your own living room can work well for small groups.

Once you decide on a space, you’ll have to call ahead and book it, as sometimes locations require reservations weeks or even months in advance.

How to Make a “Found Poem”

Visual artists sometimes talk about using “found objects” in their artwork. In other words, they collect interesting things during the course of a normal day (such as bus tickets, objects from nature, or a toy found on the street) and then find a way to incorporate those objects into their artwork.

Did you know that you can do the same thing with language? A “found poem” is created by collecting interesting text from the world around us and then using those words to make a poem. When you create poetry this way, you are acting like a documentary filmmaker—using scenes from real life to tell an interesting story.

Here are three simple and fun ways to create “found poetry” from the language that is all around you.

How to Start a Poetry Journal

A journal is a place to express yourself, to record your thoughts, feelings and observations, and to cultivate your poetic style. The cool thing about your journal is that it’s yours. You can keep it secret or share it with your friends and family. You might even read some of your poetry out loud at a talent show or poetry jam. Whatever you decide to do with it, a daily poetry journal will keep you writing. And the more you write, the better writer you become!

Step One: Choose a journal that fits your style

Do you like to draw pictures and doodle around your poetry? If so, you might want a book with blank pages. Do you need help keeping your words in order? Then try a journal with lines, such as a spiral-bound notebook. If you write all day long whenever inspiration strikes, use a smaller book with a hard cover that you can tuck into your backpack, purse, or pocket.

Step Two: Organize your journal

While this is an important step, it will be different for everyone. You can divide your journal in several different ways:

  • Emotions: Joy, Anger, Sorrow, Humility, Pride
  • Seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall (add the different holidays within each season.)
  • Chronological: Just write the date at the top of the page.
  • Poetic Form: Acrostic, Cinquain, Clerihew, Diamante, Haiku, Limerick, Free Verse, etc.
  • Subject: Sports, Humor, Dance, Friends, Nature, School

Once you’ve decided how to organize your journal, use a paper clip, divider, sticky note, or colored tape to divide your sections. (You do not need to do this for a chronological journal.)

Step Three: Write!

Poetry Journal

Jot down interesting words, phrases, sentences, or feelings on the page before starting your poem. This provides a jumping-off point for your thoughts.

For example, today I heard someone say, “I can’t be late for the bus!” So, I wrote that sentence on the top of a page in my “School” section.

Next, write down words that have to do with your phrase. For mine, I chose: Run, shout, nervous, hurry, stop, fast, heartbeat, homework, driver, windows, ice, puddles, clock, time, and wheels.

Then, decide what type of poem you want to write. For this one, I selected free verse.

Finally, use some of the words on your page to write your poem.

Bus Stop
My heart beats
so fast.

The puddles are lakes,
my homework… wet.

The clock ticks
faster than my feet
can run.

I shout to the driver,
“Stop!”

Wheels slow.
Take a breath.

I can’t be late for the bus.

Step Four: Keep it up!

It’s important to write in your journal on a regular basis. Finding a routine can help with that. Maybe you have quiet time at night before bed, when you’re riding on the bus, or at lunch break. Make it a part of your day, and soon you’ll have an entire journal full of incredible poetry!

How to Write a Backward Poem

Backward poems are one of the most fun types of poems to write. A “backward poem” is a poem in which everything is done in reverse of what you would usually expect. Often they are written about a “backward” person. For example, Shel Silverstein has a very famous poem called “Backward Bill” from his book A Light in the Attic, and Douglas Florian wrote a well-known poem called “Mr. Backward” in his book Bing, Bang, Boing. My poem “Mr. Brown the Circus Clown” from The Armpit of Doom is also an example of a backward poem.

Create a Backward Character

To write a backward poem, start by giving your backward person a name, such as “Backward Bill” or “Mr. Backward,” and maybe deciding where they are from. Then try rhyming the next line, like this:

Backward Bob from Backwardtown
is backward, flipped, and upside down.

Make a List of Backward Things

Now make a list of things that a backward person might do or say or have. For example, a backward person might wear his hat on his feet. Or he might have a cat that barks and a dog that meows. See if you can come up with several ideas like this and make a rhyming list, like this:

He wears his hat upon his feet
and wanders backward down the street.
His dog meows. His kitten barks.
His baby goldfish chases sharks.

You can add as many couplets (a “couplet” is two lines that rhyme) as you like to your list to make it as long as you want. For example, I thought of a few more things that Backward Bob might do:

His ears are blue. His nose is green.
He drives a purple submarine.
He eats his lunch when he’s asleep
and washes in a garbage heap.

Give Your Poem a Simple Ending

When you are writing a simple, descriptive poem – that is, a poem that describes someone or something, rather than telling a story – it’s okay to end your poem more or less the same way you started it. So you might write a couple of lines to end the poem like this:

And when he laughs he wears a frown.
He’s Backward Bob from Backward town.

Put it All Together

Once you’ve got your list and your beginning and end, just put it all together and, voila, you’ve got a shiny new backward poem, just like that.

Backward Bob

Backward Bob from Backwardtown
is backward, flipped, and upside down.
He wears his hat upon his feet
and wanders backward down the street.
His dog meows. His kitten barks.
His baby goldfish chases sharks.
His ears are blue. His nose is green.
He drives a purple submarine.
He eats his lunch when he’s asleep
and washes in a garbage heap.
And when he laughs he wears a frown.
He’s Backward Bob from Backwardtown.

Kenn Nesbitt
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How to Recite a Poem Like an Expert

If you would like to recite a poem for an audience – whether you are reciting a poem that you wrote yourself, or a poem by someone else – there are many different ways to go about it. Here are some of the things that will help you learn to recite poetry like an expert.

Choose a Poem that “Speaks to You”

When choosing a poem to recite, be sure to pick a poem that you really like. The more you like the poem, the more fun you will have learning and reciting it. Whether it’s a funny poem, a serious poem, a sad poem, a sports poem, a spooky poem, a jump-rope rhyme, or even a love poem, if it’s a poem that “speaks to you” – a poem that makes you feel something – you are going to enjoy sharing it with your audience.

It’s Okay to YELL!

There are lots of “right ways” to recite a poem, but in my opinion there is only one “wrong way.” The wrong way to recite a poem is to use your normal, everyday, “inside voice.” When you use your “inside voice,” you only speak loud enough for those closest to you to hear what you are saying. When you recite a poem, you need to speak loudly enough for everyone in the room to hear you.

Of course, if you really want to mess it up, you can also hold the poem in front of your face so no one can see your lips moving, making it that much harder for people to hear you. Oh, and look down at your shoes. When you speak, your voice travels in whatever direction you are facing. If you are looking at your shoes, your shoes can hear you really well, but other people might not.

So the first and most important thing to know when you want to recite a poem is that you really need to face your audience and use your “outside voice,” even if you are inside. In other words, it’s okay to YELL when reciting a poem. If anyone ever asks you why you were yelling when you recited a poem, please tell them Kenn Nesbitt said it was okay.

Memorize the Poem You Plan to Recite

To recite a poem well, it’s important to have it firmly committed to memory. If you don’t have the poem memorized, you are more likely to make mistakes when reciting it, even if you have it written on a piece of paper in front of you. Memorizing it will help make your recitation as good as possible.

I find that the best way to memorize a poem is to read a printed copy out loud as many times as possible. Depending on the length of the poem, you may have to read it out loud 10 or 20 times, or possibly even more, but each time you read a poem out loud, you will remember a little more of it.

How to memorize a poem:

  1. Get a printed copy of the poem.
  2. Look at the poem and read it out loud.
  3. Turn it over so you can’t see it.
  4. Recite as much of it as you can remember, from the beginning.
  5. Repeat steps 2 through 5 until you can recite the entire poem from memory.

Other Ways to Recite a Poem

While it’s okay to just YELL when you recite a poem, here are several other things you can do that might make it even better:

  • Look for the voice of the poem, and speak in that voice. In other words, if it’s a poem about a cowboy, see if you can put on a cowboy accent. If it’s a poem about a monster, try using the scariest monster voice you can. If it’s a poem about a baby, an old person, or just some crazy character, think of what that person might sound like and try to speak in their voice.
  • Rap the poem. Some poems have a rhythm built into the words. When you’re read a jump-rope rhyme, or any other rhythmical poem, you may find that it’s suitable for rapping. If you want to have even more fun with it, try reciting it to a drum beat or to music. Watch this video for an example how I recite poems to music: https://youtu.be/CkoOSfNjc40
  • Recite it with a friend. Many poems have more than one voice. That is, a poem might have different speaking parts – such as the narrator, a mother or father, a teacher, a child, etc. – making it easy to split up and be read by two or more people. Even if it’s not, perhaps you and a friend could take turns reading every other line.
  • Put on a play. If a poem tells a small story, you can perform it in much the same way that you can perform a play. You can create sets and props, and even wear costumes. Make it a drama! Or a comedy! Or a musical! Visit this link for an example of how a poem can be turned into a play: https://youtu.be/Meyq2pgCG-g
  • Run around, wave your hands, say it like you mean it. Don’t just limit yourself to the ideas I’ve given above. Recite the poem in any way that seems best to you. If that means sitting in a chair, or jumping up and down, or stomping back and forth, or even dancing, that’s okay. Just put some feeling into it and “read it like you mean it” to give the best performance you can.

Have Fun!

However you decide to recite a poem, the most important thing is that you have fun doing it. So pick a poem, memorize it, practice reciting it a few different ways to see what works best, and then have fun sharing it with your audience!

Rhyme Schemes – A Poetry Lesson Plan

This lesson plan uses several poems from Poetry4kids.com to show how to identify the rhyme scheme of a poem. Students will analyze the poems to determine the rhyme schemes of each.

Click here for a printable copy of this lesson plan for use in the classroom.

Rhyming words are words that sound the same at the ends, such as cat / hat, or jumping / bumping.

When a poem has rhyming words at the ends of its lines, these are called “end rhymes.” Here is an example of end rhyme:

My cat is nice.
My cat likes mice.

A “rhyme scheme” is a way of describing the pattern of end rhymes in a poem. Each new sound at the end of a line is given a letter, starting with “A,” then “B,” and so on. If an end sound repeats the end sound of an earlier line, it gets the same letter as the earlier line.

Here are three slightly different cat poems, each with a different rhyme scheme. The first is AABB, the second is ABAB, and the third is ABCB):

My cat is nice.
My cat likes mice.
My cat is fat.
I like my cat.
A
A
B
B

 

My cat is nice.
My cat is fat.
My cat likes mice.
I like my cat.
A
B
A
B

 

My cat is gray.
My cat is fat.
My cat is cute.
I like my cat.
A
B
C
B

 

Exercise:

  1. Read the following poems by Kenn Nesbitt.
  2. For each poem, identify the rhyme scheme and write it below the poem.

Mr. Brown the Circus Clown

Mr. Brown, the circus clown
puts his clothes on upside down.
He wears his hat upon his toes
and socks and shoes upon his nose.

Rhyme scheme: _____________

 

My Penmanship is Pretty Bad

My penmanship is pretty bad.
My printing’s plainly awful.
In truth, my writing looks so sad
it ought to be unlawful.

Rhyme scheme: _____________

 

All My Great Excuses

I started on my homework
but my pen ran out of ink.
My hamster ate my homework.
My computer’s on the blink.

Rhyme scheme: _____________

 

Today I Had a Rotten Day

Today I had a rotten day.
As I was coming in from play
I accidentally stubbed my toes
and tripped and fell and whacked my nose.

Rhyme scheme: _____________

Alliteration and Assonance – A Poetry Lesson Plan

This lesson plan uses the poem “My Puppy Punched Me in the Eye” by Kenn Nesbitt, from the book My Hippo Has the Hiccups to demonstrate alliteration and assonance, two common poetic devices that involve repetition of sounds. Students will analyze the poem to find as many examples of alliteration and assonance as they can.

Click here for a printable copy of this lesson plan for use in the classroom.

Alliteration is when a writer repeats the consonant sounds at the beginnings of words. For example, in “My puppy punched me in the eye,” the words “puppy punched” are alliterative because they both begin with “p.”

Assonance is when a writer repeats the vowel sounds in the stressed syllables of words. For example, in the line ”My rabbit whacked my ear,” the words “rabbit whacked” are an example of assonance because they both contain a “short a” sound on the stressed syllable.

Alliteration and assonance do not have to have the same letters; just the same sounds. So for example, “falling phone” is  alliterative and “flying high” is assonant, because they repeat the same sounds even though they don’t repeat the same letters.

Exercise:

  1. Read the following poem.
  2. Underline the alliterative words in each line.
  3. Circle the assonant words in each line.

Hint: Sometimes words can be both alliterative and assonant.

My Puppy Punched Me In the Eye

My puppy punched me in the eye.
My rabbit whacked my ear.
My ferret gave a frightful cry
and roundhouse kicked my rear.

My lizard flipped me upside down.
My kitten kicked my head.
My hamster slammed me to the ground
and left me nearly dead.

So my advice? Avoid regrets;
no matter what you do,
don’t ever let your family pets
take lessons in kung fu.

–Kenn Nesbitt

 

How to Write a Funny List Poem

Shopping List

What is a list poem?

A “list poem” gets its name from the fact that most of the poem is made up of a long list of things.

Two famous list poems are “Bleezer’s Ice Cream” by Jack Prelutsky and “Sick” by Shel Silverstein. You will even find some of my list poems on poetry4kids.com, such as “My Lunch” and “That Explains It!

These are not the only list poems, though. Many children’s poets have written fun list poems, and you can even write your own. This lesson will show you how.

The structure of a list poem

List poems usually have a list in the middle, plus a few lines at the beginning and a few lines at the end. You can think of the beginning and end of a list poem like the top and bottom slices of bread in a sandwich. The list is like the meat or peanut butter or whatever else is between the bread. Picture it like this:

Beginning
List
List
List
List
Ending

List poems often rhyme, and they are usually funny. If you look at poems like Shel Silverstein’s “Sick” or Jack Prelutsky’s “Bleezer’s Ice Cream” you will notice that the lists also include very unusual items. Putting strange, unexpected, or exaggerated things on your list is a good way to make your poem funny.

Getting started

Here are two easy ways to start writing a list poem:

  1. Start with someone else’s beginning and end, but make your own list in the middle.
  2. Start by writing a list of your own, and then write your own beginning and end to go with the list.

You can decide for yourself whether it will be easier to write your own list poem from scratch, or to use someone else’s poem as a starting point.

Starting with someone else’s poem

It’s okay to use someone else’s list poem as the starting point for your own poem. (Just be sure to say your creation was “Based on…” the poem you used.) For example, here is my poem “That Explains It!”:

That Explains It!

I went to the doctor. He x-rayed my head.
He stared for a moment and here’s what he said.
“It looks like you’ve got a banana in there,
an apple, an orange, a peach, and a pear.

I also see something that looks like a shoe,
a plate of spaghetti, some fake doggy doo,
an airplane, an arrow, a barrel, a chair,
a salmon, a camera, some old underwear,
a penny, a pickle, a pencil, a pen,
a hairy canary, a hammer, a hen,
a whistle, a thistle, a missile, a duck,
an icicle, bicycle, tricycle, truck.

with all of the junk that you have in your head
it’s kind of amazing you got out of bed.
The good news, at least, is you shouldn’t feel pain.
From what I can see here you don’t have a brain.”

Notice that this poem begins with the four lines that set up the story, and ends with four lines that make it even funnier. You can use the same beginning and end, if you like, while putting your own list in the middle.
For example, what would the doctor find in your head? Since this list has rhymes at the end of each line, you can start with a few rhymes, like this:

house
mouse
cat
hat

Once you’ve got a few rhymes, you can add as many items as you want, like this:

“I also see something that looks like a house,
a monkey, a meerkat, a mink, and a mouse,
a laptop computer, a boat, and a cat,
an old pair of glasses, a coat, and a hat,

Of course, you don’t have to use my poem; you can use any list poem you like to create your own new list poem, or you can even create one from scratch.

Starting with your own list

If you prefer to write your own list poem from scratch, one easy way is to figure out what you’re going to make a list of. For example, you could make a grocery list, a list of things in your backpack, a list of your favorite sweets, a list of things you want for Christmas, and so on.
Let’s try it with a list of sweets. First let’s try to think of candies and sweets that rhyme.

Nestle’s Crunch
Hawaiian Punch
Dots
Zotz
Tootsie Pops
Lemon drops
Whoppers
Gobstoppers

Now that you’ve got some rhymes, put them into a list, adding a few more items to make the lines each about the same length:

A half a dozen Nestle’s Crunch.
A gallon of Hawaiian Punch.
Some Cracker Jacks. A box of Dots.
Some Pop Rocks and a jar of Zotz.
Reese’s Pieces. Tootsie Pops.
Hershey Kisses. Lemon drops.
Candy Corn, Milk Duds, and Whoppers.
Skittles, Snickers, and Gobstoppers.

Once your rhyming list is done, give it a beginning, an end, and a title and you’re all done.

My Shopping List

My mother said, “Go buy some bread,”
but this is what I got instead.

A half a dozen Nestle’s Crunch.
A gallon of Hawaiian Punch.
Some Cracker Jacks. A box of Dots.
Some Pop Rocks and a jar of Zotz.
Reese’s Pieces. Tootsie Pops.
Hershey Kisses. Lemon drops.
Candy Corn, Milk Duds, and Whoppers.
Skittles, Snickers, and Gobstoppers.
When mother needs things from the store
She never sends me anymore.

And that’s all there is to it. Now it’s your turn. Make a list of animals, friends, monsters, games, foods, places you’d like to go on vacation, or anything else you like, and see if you can turn it into a funny list poem of your own!

Kenn Nesbitt
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