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Write a Christmas cinquain poem

Write a Christmas Cinquain Poem | Kids love these easy, pattern-based holiday poems!

Cinquain poems are easy to write and a lot of fun too. The simplicity comes from following a set pattern of words and phrases. The resulting poem—five lines in a special shape—is rich with colorful, concrete vocabulary. Here are two examples:

Decoration
Golden, shiny
Glowing, glittering, sparkling
Twinkles on our tree
Ornament

. . . . .

Worshipers
Amazed, awed
Watching, waiting, listening
Hurrying to the manger
Shepherds

For a simple holiday writing activity, try assigning some Christmas cinquains. Follow the instructions and pattern in my blog post, Writing a Cinquain Poem. Choose from the following ideas, or come up with your own!

  • Baby/Jesus
  • Mother/Mary
  • Visitors/Magi
  • Ornament/Angel
  • Ornament/Star
  • Ornament/Snowman
  • Cookie/Gingerbread man
  • Giftwrap/Bow
  • Decoration/Stocking
  • Decoration/Wreath
  • Tree/Fir
  • Light/Candle
  • Treat/Candy cane
  • Toy/Train
  • Helper/Elf

Share a comment: We’d love to read your children’s Christmas cinquains!

Cinquain poetry

From the archives—one of our most requested blog posts. 

A cinquain is a poem of description. It only has 11 words, so each one must be carefully chosen! To learn how to write a cinquain, visit the original post here:

How to Write a Cinquain Poem

Kids love learning how to write a cinquain. Made up of just 11 words and 5 lines, this compact poem is loaded with description!

Planet
Graceful, ringed
Spinning, whirling, twirling
Dances with neighbor Jupiter
Saturn

Public domain image courtesy of NASA

How to write a cinquain poem

Kids love learning how to write a cinquain. Made up of just 11 words and 5 lines, this compact poem is loaded with description!

cinquain (SIN-cain): an unrhymed poem consisting of five lines arranged in a special way.

Planet
Graceful, ringed
Spinning, whirling, twirling
Dances with neighbor Jupiter
Saturn

A cinquain is an example of shape poetry. Because of the exact number of words required for each line of this poem, a unique, symmetrical shape is created from interesting, descriptive words.

The word cinquain comes from the Latin root for “five.” Notice that the cinquain has five lines that follow this sequence:

Line A: One vague or general one-word subject or topic
Line B: Two vivid adjectives that describe the topic
Line C: Three interesting -ing action verbs that fit the topic
Line D: Four-word phrase that captures feeling about the topic
Line E: A very specific term that explains Line A

Here’s another example: Continue reading →

Rhymes for sale! A rhyming poetry game for kids

A fun game to help kids learn rhyme patterns and build rhyming poems

FROM read-aloud books to television jingles to crazy tongue twisters, rhyming words can instruct or entertain kids of all ages. Let your kids try this rhyming poetry game, and see how much they learn while they’re busy playing with words!

In this game, children become beggar poets who earn their living by creating clever word pairs and short rhyming poems. If one of your youngsters has a hard time finding words, don’t wait until he’s frustrated—let him think for a few minutes, then help him choose from a word list in a rhyming dictionary.

Preparation

You need currency for this game, so pick something you have plenty of on hand. You could use:

  • Pennies and nickels
  • Monopoly money
  • Bright buttons, beads, dried beans, or even paperclips!

Now, prepare a list of words your children must rhyme—at least four words for each child. Take age into consideration when writing your word list:

  • One-syllable words for kindergarteners and first graders (see, cry, bug, light)
  • Two-syllable words for second and third graders (raccoon, singing, couches, cuddle)
  • Three-syllable words for fourth, fifth, and sixth graders (lemonade, telescope, underground, evergreen)

A Penny, Please: Rhyming Words

The game begins with a lively conversation. Feel free to catch up on washing dishes or folding laundry while you recite your pairt:

Children: Rhymes for sale! Rhymes for sale!

Mom: Little beggars, what do you want today?

Children: We’re selling rhymes! Haven’t you heard? Do you need a rhyme for your favorite word?

Mom: Let me see…. I do need a rhyme for “bug.”

Children: Rug! Snug! Plug! Pug!

Mom: Thank you, that’s just what I needed today. Here are pennies for everyone.

A Dollar Earned: Rhyming Poems

Now, ask each child to write a short rhyming poem with the word pairs they just created. Suggest one of these simple rhyme patterns:

AABB CCDD

Example:

I open my eyes and suddenly see (A)

A creature staring back at me. (A)

Six tiny legs make others cry (B)

But I am brave–my eyes are dry. (B)

Before I catch this tiny bug, (C)

It starts to run across the rug. (C)

Then I flip on the amber light (D)

And, oh! That gives my bug a fright! (D)

ABAB CDCD

Example:

I dreamed I was a silly raccoon (A)

In moonlit branches singing. (B)

I laughed at lightning, thunder, monsoon, (A)

And in the trees kept swinging. (B)

My raccoon house had comfy couches (C)

Where little raccoons could cuddle. (D)

Our blankets were in sturdy pouches, (C)

Until I dropped them in a puddle. (D)

AAB CCB DDB

Example:

I bought a pint of lemonade– (A)

Just before the big parade– (A)

And hid it underground. (B)

You looked into your telescope (C)

And watched for deals on cantaloupe (C)

But fruit was nowhere to be found. (B)

We climbed a sturdy evergreen (D)

And shared the milk from my canteen (D)

With chocolate to go around. (B)

A Poet’s Reward

When a child completes his rhyming poem, pay a “dollar” in return. It doesn’t matter if the poems are silly or fanciful. The goal of this poetry game is to teach a love for words and a better grasp of syllables and meter.

Finally, your beggar poets have earned their day’s wages. Let them buy lunch, snacks, or desserts from your kitchen. And, while they’re busy munching away, encourage them to think of words for Mom to rhyme tomorrow!

Discover Other Poetry Lessons

How to Write a Cinquain Poem

How to Write a Diamante Poem

How to Write Haiku

How to Write a Cento (Patchwork) Poem

WriteShop Blog--In Our Write Minds

Daniella Dautrich is a WriteShop alumna and a graduate of Hillsdale College. She and her husband fill their home with books on writing, literature, and computer science. Daniella also blogs at www.waterlilywriter.com.

Photo: Oliver Quinlan, courtesy of Creative Commons

Mother’s Day writing activities

Mothers Day Writing Activities - Gift-giving from the heart!

MOTHER’S DAY is right around the corner. Time for breakfast in bed, roses, homemade cards, and extra snuggles!

There’s just one teeny-weeny problem: unless your children are self-motivated (or Dad’s on the ball), you may find yourself pouring your own orange juice, quietly weeping into the pancake batter, and emailing yourself a sappy e-card to mark the occasion!

Instead, be proactive and ask your children to write or create something special for you for Mother’s Day. Whether it’s a letter, essay, card, poem, or simple crafty gift, it will bring you joy to bask in your children’s sentiments on your special day!

Mother’s Day Writing Prompts

Journaling about Mother’s Day can help your kids focus on the important role of motherhood. Whether they write about special times you’ve shared together or ways you show love to your family, your kids may gain a better appreciation of what it means to be a mom.

Type up, print, and cut out the following prompts. Tell your children how much you love getting special notes and letters from them, and invite them to choose the prompt(s) they want to write about. Make craft supplies and fancy paper available in case they also want to create a card.

Prompt Ideas

  • Tell why you love your mom.
  • Explain how you know your mom loves you.
  • Tell how you know your mother loves being a mom.
  • Write about some important things you have learned from your mom.
  • What are some things you can do to make your mom’s life easier?
  • What do you think is the hardest part about being a mom?
  • If you could give your mom anything in the world for Mother’s Day, what would it be?
  • Describe something that made your mom really happy.
  • Write about five things a good mom must do.
  • How can you tell when your mom is proud of you?
  • Write a list of 10 things you appreciate about your mom.
  • What are three of your favorite things about your mom? Write about them.
  • Why is it important to celebrate your mom with her own special day?
  • Write a prayer thanking God for the things that make your mother special.

Mother’s Day Poems

  • Write a cinquain or haiku poem about mothers (or about your mom).
  • Write an acrostic poem about your mom using the letters in the word “MOTHER.” Older kids might enjoy the challenge of using all the letters in “HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY,” while younger ones can write a simpler acrostic using “MOM” or “LOVE.”
  • Ask a young child to think of words that describe you (soft, huggable, kind, loving, beautiful, warm, friendly). Then have her compare some of those traits to familiar things. For example, she might say, “Mommy is as soft as a marshmallow.” Help her create a simile poem like this one:

Mommy is as sweet as _______.
Mommy is as gentle as _______.
Mommy is as huggable as _______.
My mommy is ________.

Mother’s Day Cards and Crafts

Mother's Day Card [front]I realize it may be hard to actually ask your kids to make you a Mother’s Day card or gift, but maybe you can hint to your husband or teen to organize younger children to make one of these fun crafts!

No matter how your family celebrates you, I pray each of my mom friends enjoys a special Mother’s Day surrounded by those you love the most.

. . . . .

Your Turn

What was your most memorable Mother’s Day? OR, what is the most special Mother’s Day gift you’ve received?

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy.

In Our Write Minds: 2010 in review

Do you ever wonder if your writing makes a difference?

As I blog about teaching writing, the thought crosses my mind from time to time: Do I offer anything of substance to weary homeschooling moms of reluctant writers? Do my tips and ideas bring encouragement and fresh insight? Am I making a difference at all?

This morning, I learned about Musings of a Housewife Jo-Lynne’s 2010 Blog Recap Carnival and decided to take up the challenge. As I copied and pasted the first line from each post, I came away confident that my words do matter, and In Our Write Minds does have an impact within my little sphere of influence.

So . . . on this first Monday of 2011, let’s recap the first blog post of each month during 2010 (or the second post, if the first one was a contest or promotion). I’m hoping you’ll find a nugget of encouragement along the way.

~Kim

January

Sometimes, your teen’s opposition to writing has nothing at all to do with laziness, procrastination, perfectionism, or confidence—and everything to do with relevance.

February

No matter the curriculum, whether math, penmanship, or writing, picking the best starting level for your child can challenge the most seasoned homeschooler—especially when said child doesn’t exactly fit a grade-specific mold.

March

Every single day, almost without fail, the poetry lessons draw more folks to this blog than any other article (with the two most frequently accessed posts being Writing a Diamante Poem and Cinquain Poetry). 

April

Concreteness transports us into a story like nothing else.

May

I love the deliciousness of certain words—the way something as ordinary as chocolate can take on an entire new personality when dressed up with adjectives like warm, rich, thick, gooey, chilled, creamy, or frothy.

June

“Summertime … and the livin’ is easy.”

July

The 4th of July is right around the corner, and if you’re looking for some writing activities to occupy your children in preparation for celebrating Independence Day, this jam-packed, colorful, patriotic word list is sure to inspire some great stories.

August

When assigning writing to your children, you don’t always have to reinvent the wheel with a brand-new lesson.

September

In generaral, I hope his concrete work is better than his spelling.

October

I hear it all the time: We’re having self-editing issues.

November

Do your older children have a hard time thinking of what to give a younger sibling for a birthday or Christmas gift?

December

Your on? Wow. I’m struck dumb every time I see a sign or ad like this.

 

Spring writing activities

 

Spring is in the air—and it’s a great time to look for some fresh writing opportunities for your children. Considering my wacky schedule this week, I thought I’d visit the archives and find some creative writing ideas that will help you dispel spring fever. Give them a try!

Poetry

New birth, fresh growth: springtime fairly explodes with life! Poetry is a perfect way to capture the fragrance, blossoms, showers, sunshine, and birdsong of the season. Visit these mini poetry lessons for some inspiration.

Creative Writing

Brighten up your schooling: let your children dabble in these simple, creative, colorful writing exercises. You’ll love the results!

Writing haiku poetry

Writing Haiku Poetry with Kids

Words Matter Week: Day 1

Every single day, almost without fail, the poetry lessons draw more folks to this blog than any other article (with the two most frequently accessed posts being Writing a Diamante Poem and Cinquain Poetry).

This inspired me to launch right into Words Matter Week by introducing a brand-new lesson: how to write haiku (and offer a fun contest too)!

What Is Haiku?

Japanese in origin, haiku is not based on rhyme, but on a pattern of syllables. At three lines long, haiku is a poem of economy. Traditionally, only 17 syllables are allowed, so a finished haiku may end up being just 12 or 13 words long.

By its nature, haiku is concrete and concise, capturing a single moment in a mere handful of words. It’s a tall order to write a poem full of rich imagery, paint a picture in the reader’s mind, and leave an impression on a heart or soul—and do so with so few words.

Every word counts, and that’s why—perhaps more than any other poetry genre—haiku is especially fitting for Words Matter Week.

Writing Haiku Poetry: An Experience with Nature

Choosing a Subject for Your Poem

Haiku poems celebrate appreciation for beauty and nature. Plants, animals, water, weather, and seasons are often subjects of haiku. Powerful yet sensitive, these poems communicate a mood or tone without actually using words to describe feelings.

Red and gold poppies
explode with fresh spring colors,
invading my yard.

Writing Haiku Poetry | Red and Gold Poppies

Notice how this haiku expresses a crisp, springy, bright feeling. You can picture a tired winter garden coming to life. The words never actually say, “After a cold, colorless winter, I am so happy and cheered to see flowers again!” Yet this is the message the poem brings.

In the darkest wood
with heads hanging mournfully,
weeping willows cry.

This poem gives a feeling of sadness, even though the words don’t tell you how the poet feels, or how you should feel. Notice how personification helps to communicate this tone. When writing haiku poetry, think about the emotions you want your reader to experience. Paint a picture with your words to express a mood.

Formatting Your Haiku Poem

Some poetry forms require the writer to follow a certain format, or structure. You may remember that cinquains and diamantes, for example, call for you to use an exact number of words within an exact number of lines. Haiku, on the other hand, requires you to carefully count syllables instead of words. This form of poetry always uses 3 lines and 17 syllables.

Line 1: 5 syllables
Line 2: 7 syllables
Line 3: 5 syllables

When counting out syllables, listen to the beat within a word, silently tapping it out on the table. Usually, a syllable is marked by a vowel sound. “Butterfly” has three syllables (but/ter/fly). The word “cocoon” contains two syllables (co/coon). The word “exuberantly” has five (ex/u/ber/ant/ly). “Flight” has only one (flight).

If you still have trouble counting syllables, try Rhyme Desk’s online tool.

Because your entire poem is only 17 syllables, every single word must be carefully chosen to say exactly what you want to communicate. Rely heavily on a good thesaurus for terrific, specific words! Your thesaurus will also be useful when you need to find a synonym of more or fewer syllables that will fit better on a line of your poem.

What to Do if a Line Contains Too Few or Too Many Syllables

> Leave out or add articles (a, an, the) to shorten or lengthen the number of syllables. Example: a six-syllable line must be shortened to five syllables.

A/ small/ frog/ trills/ loudly = 6 syllables
Small/ frog/ trills/ loud/ly = 5 syllables (drop the “a”)

Writing Haiku Poetry | Jungle Frog

> Use your thesaurus to find a similar word that will fit.

Suppose your haiku looks like this:

Thunder clouds follow me (6)
booming from behind (5)
the sky is so mad. (5)

Do you see how each line has too many or too few syllables? Let’s look at them one at a time.

Example: the first line of a haiku poem must be 5 syllables long.

Thun/der/ clouds/ fol/low/ me = 6 syllables (it’s too long – you need 5 syllables)

Now, look up follow in the thesaurus. Can you find a one-syllable word that will fit? (chase)

Thun/der/ clouds/ chase/ me = 5 syllables (this will work)

> Look for a word to drop.

Thun/der/ clouds/ fol/low = 5 syllables (just drop the “me”)

> Find a different way to say a similar thing. Often your thesaurus will help, but sometimes you just need to think! How can you express the same message while adjusting the number of syllables?

Example 1: The second line must be 7 syllables.

boom/ing/ from/ be/hind = 5 syllables (it’s too short – needs 7 syllables)
bel/low/ing/ from/ a/ dis/tance = 7 syllables (use longer words)

Example 2: The third line must be 5 syllables.

the/ sky/ is/ so/ mad = 5 syllables

The number of syllables is correct—so what’s wrong with this line? Remember that you want to avoid “to be” words such as is, and empty words such as so:

the/ an/gry/ sky/ shouts = 5 syllables, OR
the/ black/ sky/ threat/ens = 5 syllables

While still expressing a “mad” feeling, these lines use more specific words that paint a fuller picture. Show, don’t tell.

OK, here’s the finished haiku poem:

Thunder clouds chase me (5)
bellowing from a distance (7)
the angry sky shouts. (5)

Should haiku have a title? Typically not. If you think it needs a title to better explain the poem, do your best to work the title into the poem by removing and replacing words. Use your new syllable skills to help when writing haiku poetry.

Happy Words Matter Week . . . and happy writing!

Kim_signature_short

Copyright © 2010 Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

Photos: Autan, Chad King, and Geoff Gallice courtesy of Creative Commons.

A Haiku Contest for Words Matter Week!

Now it’s time for your children  to write some haiku! Everyone who posts a haiku poem in the comments before March 7, 2010 will be entered in a contest. One winner will be chosen randomly to win your choice of a $10 Barnes and Noble gift card or a $20 WriteShop gift certificate.

The Rules

  1. Only one entry per person is allowed, so pick your best poem.
  2. Your haiku must be formatted properly in order to qualify for a prize.

This contest has ended.

How to write a diamante poem

Teach your kids how to write a diamante poem--a fun, diamond-shaped poems about opposites.

Diamante: A seven-line poem that takes the shape of a diamond.

Lion
Majestic, proud
Roaring, snarling, prowling
Mane, muscle . . . Fleece, fluff
Bleating, leaping, grazing
Meek, gentle
Lamb

A Poem of Opposites

How to Write a Diamante Poem | Poetry for ChildrenRemember that the first and last words of a cinquain are synonyms—the last word of the poem renames the first.

Diamantes, however, are poems about opposites: the first and last words have opposite meanings (or convey opposite ideas).

A diamante has seven lines that follow this sequence:

Line A: Topic A (must be a noun)
Line B: Two vivid adjectives that describe Topic A
Line C: Three interesting “-ing” action verbs that describe Topic A
Line D: Two concrete nouns about Topic A and two about Topic G
Line E: Three interesting “-ing” action verbs that describe Topic G
Line F: Two vivid adjectives that describe Topic G
Line G: Topic G (must be a noun)

Here’s another example:

Light
Clear, brilliant
Glowing, shining, revealing
Mirror, candle . . . Whisper, shadow
Deepening, sleeping, shrouding
Black, quiet
Darkness

Brainstorming 

Use the tips below to brainstorm on blank paper for different ideas. Then follow the directions to write your own descriptive diamante. Because the poem has a limited number of words, choose each word carefully, avoiding vague, blah words.

Opposite Word Pair Ideas

Correct: age/youth (nouns)
Incorrect: old/young (adjectives)

  • cat/dog
  • boy/girl
  • hamburger/Coke
  • pencil/paper
  • sandals/sneakers
  • king/queen
  • fire/ice
  • thunder/lightning
  • earth/sea
  • rose/thorn
  • love/hate
  • victory/defeat
  • peace/turmoil

Line A: Name a topic (see the suggestions above for some ideas).
Line G: Name an opposite topic. (This will be the LAST line of your diamante.) Remember—topics must be nouns.
Line B: Brainstorm 5-6 vivid, concrete adjectives to describe Topic A. Do not choose words that end in “-ing.”
Line C: Brainstorm 5-6 highly descriptive participles (verbs ending in “-ing”) that fit Topic A.
Line D: Brainstorm several nouns that tell something about Topic A and Topic G. Be careful—make sure you choose NOUNS, not ADJECTIVES!
Line E: Brainstorm 5-6 highly descriptive participles (verbs ending in “-ing”) that fit Topic G.
Line F: Brainstorm 5-6 vivid, concrete adjectives to describe Topic G. Do not choose words that end in “-ing.”

Writing Your Diamante

  1. Pick out your most descriptive words from your brainstorming and put your diamante together. Diamantes do not need titles.
  2. When you are satisfied, recopy the poem onto clean notebook paper.
  3. Center your diamante on the paper.
  4. Begin each line with a capital letter, and remember your commas. Do not use ending punctuation.
  5. Include three spaced periods in the middle of Line D.
  6. When finished, double-check for concreteness!

Line A. _______
Line B. _______ , _______
Line C. _______ , _______ , _______
Line D. _______ , _______ . . . _______ , _______
Line E. _______ , _______ , _______
Line F. _______ , _______
Line G. _______

Now that you know how to write a diamante poem, I encourage you to write many more!

Diamante Poetry Contest!

The contest has ended.

Here’s a contest for kids age 8-17! Post your children’s diamante poems in the comment section by September 17. A student may enter up to three diamante poems, but each must be submitted as a separate comment. Include the student’s first name and age with each submission.

  • Submissions will be accepted September 10-17, 2008.
  • Winning poems must adhere strictly to the format rules above. 
  • On September 18, winners will be drawn randomly from eligible submissions.
  • Winning poems will appear here at the In Our Write Minds blog September 18.

Grand Prize is a $10 Barnes & Noble gift card for the student and a $10 WriteShop gift certificate for the parent.

. . . . .

Copyright © 2008 Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

Photos: Kim Alaniz and Dustin Ginetz, courtesy of Creative Commons.

How to write a cento poem: Patchwork poetry

Teach children how to write a cento poem (also called "patchwork poetry" because it's pieced together from lines of other poems).

Cen·to: an original poem made using lines from the works of various poets.

In recent posts I’ve shared ideas on teaching children to write cinquain poems and poems of comparison. Let’s have some fun today with cento poetry!

Cento, sometimes called “patchwork poetry,” is well named because of the way the poem is assembled. (The term cento actually comes from the Latin word for patchwork.) As a quilt is pieced together from assorted patches of fabric, the cento poem is put together with lines from other sources.

To make a patchwork poem, each line must be taken from a different poem. When the lines are put together, they must make sense. The poem doesn’t have to rhyme, but rhyming adds a nice touch.

An Example of Cento Poetry

Here’s a rhyming cento by one of my former students, Rachel:

Round paradise is such a wall, (Monro)

And, hearing fairy voices call, (Webb)

And the streams run golden, (Lee)

Where there is no grass at all. (Stephens)

Sources

Harold Monro, “Real Property
Mary Webb, “Green Rain
Laurie Lee, “Day of These Days
James Stephens, “White Fields

How to Write a Cento

  1. Read some poems. Take time to look through a few poetry books or explore some poetry online. Enjoy the poems. Anthologies, which contain many poems, make the search easier.
  2. Get started. Find a line you especially like, and make that the first line of your patchwork poem. Write the poet’s last name in parentheses at the end of the line, as in Rachel’s example above.
  3. Add more lines. Select lines 2, 3, and 4 in the same way. Choose your lines carefully—your poem must make sense.
  4. Take the challenge!
    • Can you make your poem rhyme? It’s not necessary, but it can be a fun challenge.
    • Try to make the beats sound right.
    • Tenses should agree.
    • Person should agree. In other words, pick lines that have been written either all in first person or all in third person.
  5. Give credit. At the end, list each poet’s full name. Include the name of the poem in quotes.

One More Example

Here’s a cento about spring. This poem doesn’t rhyme.

Speak gently, Spring, and make no sudden sound, (Lew Sarett)

I’d much rather sit there in the sun. (Krauss)

The golden crocus reaches up, (Crane)

And everywhere the great green smell, (Worth)

A coat of clover cloaks the hills. (Prelutsky)

The wind is passing through, (Rossetti)

Stirs the dancing daffodil  (Coleridge)

Deep in their long-stemmed world. (Brown)

Sources

Lew Sarett, “Four Little Foxes
Ruth Krauss, “Song”
Walter Crane, “The Crocus
Kathryn Worth, “Smells
Jack Prelutsky, “The Four Seasons
Christina Rossetti, “Who Has Seen the Wind?”
Sara Coleridge, “The Months
Margaret Wise Brown, “Green Stems”

Are you ready to try writing your own cento poem?

Copyright © 2008 Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.

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Photo: Cindy Funk, courtesy of Creative Commons
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