How to Write a Poem With Kids
Do you like being creative? Do your kids like being creative? Do you like being creative with your kids? If the answer is yes, yes and YES! then I’ve got an idea that might grab you. This summer and am the Lonely Planet Kids Poet in Residence. From now until the end of the year I will be writing poems about cities. And part of my mission is to encourage children to do the same. Read on for some ideas on how to write poems with kids…
Anyone can be a poet
I live in the place where Wordsworth wrote his poems. Well, not the actual place Wordsworth wrote his poems – I don’t live in Dove Cottage! As a Lakeland poet I follow in the footsteps of Wordsworth. Well, not actually in his footsteps – my feet aren’t THAT big!
Wordsworth was a great poet. But he wrote about simple pleasures like walks and daffodils and clouds. You don’t have to be a poet to write a great poem. And you don’t have to write about wifty wafty, poetic things.
This summer keep their heads in the clouds
Anyone can write a poem. Kids are especially good at them. And also anyone who likes to make stuff up, like I do. In our world daffodils dance rhumbas and clouds go wandering all over the shop. It’s actually pretty hard to pin a cloud down in my head! Check out this video of when I decided to dress up as a cloud and wander lonely on the hills writing a poem about how to write a poem wandering lonely as a cloud.
This summer keep them busy
At this time of year, kids have a lot of time on their hands. And you don’t have a lot of time on yours. So why not sit down with your children and help or encourage them to write a poem. Or better still send them off to their bedroom or into the outdoors with some gummy bears and a pack of sparkly pens to see what they come up with on their own. Or even better still, send them off to their bedroom or into the outdoors with some sparkly pens and the promise of gummy bears if they come back with a poem. (You may have to test those gummy bears while they are gone to check they haven’t been poisoned by an evil wizard?)
I know from experience that the hardest thing about poetry is getting started. So I’ve written a poem about how a kid can get started. And I also know that a poem is all about a good idea. So this poem is totally geared around the idea. Forget about moody metaphors and silly similes. Don’t spend all your precious time on rhyme. Just create a place that’s unique and exciting and the words will flow and shape themselves. Try reading this poem with the kids then sort them out with that blank sheet of paper and sparkly pens…
How to write a poem with kids
How to write a poem about a city
Start off by imagining yourself in a space.
If you’re stuck maybe choose a familiar place.
Consider the weather, the hour of the day.
Will the colours be golden, or will they be grey?
A landmark, a grand park, a street filled with people?
Squashed in a church pew, or perched on a steeple?
Think big and think teeny, go dreamy or real.
Try figuring out how this space makes you feel.
Now run through your senses. Smell, touch, and hear.
If others are present then are they too near?
Poke one. Is it friendly? Family or stranger?
Are you feeling ok or do you sense danger?
This fantasy creation or city you know
imagine it shrinking and then make it grow.
Shoot it to Jupiter, spin it around,
could it thrive underwater or under the ground?
Turn down the volume, or set it to loud.
Make it deserted, then add a big crowd.
Flush it with colour, pump up the light
until day is endless. Now switch on the night.
Gunk it and junk it, try making it freeze.
This your city so do as you please.
Inflate it. Invade it. Bury or burn it.
If it isn’t your favourite, why not return it?
When you’ve tossed it and turned it inside out
and you know this place and what it’s about,
where it’s been, what it’s seen, well only then,
I invite you to write it. Pick up your pen…
Now your kids should have an idea. Or loads to pick from. Or even a few to mash up. It’s pretty simple from now on. Their work is almost done. Here are three tips for next steps:
- Write it down. In lines. On a page.
- Share out the gummy bears. (What do you mean there’s none left?)
Well, what are you waiting for? Summer is here! The kids are looking for something to do!