January and February: the nemesis months of homeschooling families. Parents and kids alike suffer from after-holiday blues, burn-out, cabin fever, and general malaise. It’s time to shake things up a little bit—to add a bit more flavor to your daily regime.
Creating something beautiful is a great way to shake off the winter “blahs.” How about combining words with artwork? Kids of all ages love to write poetry, even if they don’t know it yet, and simple art can provide a satisfying addition to a poem.
Form poetry—poetry that follows a particular pattern— is a perfect way to introduce writers of all ages to the magic of words. There are dozens of different types of form poetry, from acrostics to tongue twisters. Try picking a few of these types and working together to write several poems about a single subject.
Please don’t worry about spelling or grammar. Let your kids have fun with poetry writing. You may wish to brainstorm all kinds of words that go with your theme before you begin and leave the list somewhere visable.
For example, January is a great time to have a theme of “winter.” Spend about 10 minutes or so brainstorming with your kids until you just can’t think of any more words. If you have a whiteboard or chalkboard, leave this list up until you are done with this theme. So you may have a list of 50 words or more that have something to do with winter.
Next, work together to come up a set of poems about winter. You can all work together on each poem, or everyone can do his or her own project. With younger children, I often write while the child dictates a poem.
You might start with an acrostic poem, like this:
W ind blowing
I cy sidewalks
N estled in bed
T eapot whistling
E mbers in the fireplace
R osy cheeks
How about adding an ode (a poem in honor of someone or something very important to you):
How I longed for you!
How I wished to see you pile up outside my window,
To sled on your slick whiteness,
To taste you on my tongue!
I wish only for your departure.
And of course you’ll need a haiku, with its pattern of five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables:
Stretch on endlessly
Trapping us inside.
And finish up with a cinquain, which follows this pattern:
- Line 1: One word (noun or name)
- Line 2: Two adjectives describing Line 1
- Line 3: Three verbs telling what Line 1 does
- Line 4: Four words telling more about Line 1
- Line 5: Word that means the same as Line 1
Sitting, smiling, melting
On the snowy hillside
Once you have your poems finished, put them all together into artwork! Kids love to make poetry/art collages.
The photo above shows a collage on the theme “candy” that was made by my third grader. If your child wrote a haiku about a snowflake, for example, have her cut out a paper snowflake and then write the haiku on it. A cinquain about a snowman could be written on a simple snowman made out of white paper. Write the acrostic out in bright colors. Now glue everything on a poster board or sheet of construction paper, and you’ll have a collage of beautiful creations to brighten your winter.
Don’t stop with just one theme or a few forms of poetry. These sites all have definitions and examples of many types of form poetry.
Now get started with your own creations!
Sarah Small has been writing poetry most of her life and homeschooling for 11 years. She has her master’s degree in creative writing. She writes about homeschooling, family, and life in general at SmallWorld at Home. She also offers SmallWorld’s WordSmithery, an ongoing series of free creative writing lessons. Top photograph by tillis4.