Culture Poetry

How to Write a Poem with Kids

Child writing a city poem
Written by Kirstie Pelling

How to Write a Poem With Your Kids

You can’t go on holiday this spring or Easter. The kids are stuck indoors. And it’s your responsibility to keep them engaged and educated. Here’s an idea. How about writing a poem together? A poem about a city. It could be your local city, any city in the world, or a city from another world. How to write a poem with kids? Just read out loud the instructions in my poem at the end of this post…

LPKidsPoetry Where am I

One of a series of “Where am I?” poems I wrote for #LPKidsPoetry

How to get your kids writing poetry

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 resident 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, whether you are a parent or a kid. 

The Beach at Jumeirah Beach Resort Dubai

Some cities are made out of sand like his one in Dubai…will yours be made out of words??

This spring keep their heads in the clouds

Anyone can write a poem. Kids writing poetry often crack it instinctively. In the heads of people who like to make stuff up, daffodils often dance rumbas 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 me dressing up as a cloud and wandering lonely on the hills looking for poetic inspiration…

How to fill time at home with the family   

Right now your 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 and figure out how to write a children’s poem and then help them on their own creative journey. They really can travel the whole world from their bedrooms. A pack of sparkly pens really helps. And you might want to promise them gummy bears at the end. (You may have to test some of those gummy bears while they are gone!)

As the Lonely Planet Kids Poet in Residence a while back,  I wrote a lot of poems about cities. And part of my mission was to encourage children to do the same. I knew from experience that the hardest thing about poetry is getting started. So I’ve wrote my poem on getting started. And I also know that a poem is all about a good idea. So this poem is totally geared around the idea. If you are a kid just follow the steps in my poem. Don’t do what you’ve been taught at school. 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.

If you are a parent try reading the poem below aloud to your child. And then sort out a blank sheet of paper and those nice sparkly pens…

How to write a poem with kids

How to write a poem with children? Read my poem below and do what it says …..

Ready to learn how to write a kids’ poem with kids? 

Just follow the instructions below..

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 ended. 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…

Tokyo at Night Shinjuku District

Capturing the feel of a place is one part of kids writing poetry

Next steps in getting your kids writing poetry

Now you should know exactly how to write a poem with kids. And 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 getting your kids writing poetry:

  1. Tell them to write it down. In lines. On a page.
  2. Share out the gummy bears. (What do you mean there’s none left?)
  3. Share it below in the comments if you fancy. 

Well, what are you waiting for? The kids are looking for something to do! And when they’ve finished their poem, give them a copy of Harry Potter to reread for some Hogwarts philosophy about life, the world and everything.

And when winter comes get them writing a Christmas poem. Check out my Christmas elf poem as inspiration.

About the author

Kirstie Pelling

Kirstie is the Editor of The Family Adventure Project. A professional writer and poet, she's the creative and journalistic force behind many of the stories and features published here. She's a co-founder and co-director of The Family Adventure Project and also works as the #poetinmotion producing and performing poetry for print, video and live performance.

7 Comments

  • Omg.. I don’t think my English is good enough for this. But this idea reminds me a lot of the show ‘Japan Hour’ where guests in some of the episodes write Haikus about places they visit! #CityTripping

  • This is such a great idea – I’m feeling inspired myself! For years, I’ve had this feeling that poetry is complicated, only a handful of talented people (like you!) can do it… my four-year-old, on the other hand, has just discovered the joys of rhyming words and is having huge fun testing that out without worrying about anything else. She might not be quite writing them herself for now, but I’m hanging on to this for the future. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

  • Brilliant idea! I used to love writing poetry as a child and teenager. I feel I should pick up paper and pen (a sparkly one of course) and get creative again. Love your film! Very well shot. I feel I need to visit the lakes now as well. Thanks for linking to #citytripping

  • If only my son were still little he would have loved this. He was quite the wordsmith as a child and his poems were always very silly and occasionally rude. I’ve dabbled with verse msyself: I was always given the job of writing leaving poems and songs when people retired/moved on when I worked at John Lewis!
    I love your poetry and hope this venture inspires lots of children to enjoy the fun of creating their own poems.
    #citytripping

  • This is such a great competition. Tin Box Tot is very much enjoying making squiggles with her multi-colour pen but isn’t quite at the stage of writing poetry herself. I used to jot down poetry and song lyrics when I was a kid. I’m sure my girls will catch the same bug for writing in one form or other. Good luck with the residency! #citytripping

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