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Learn All Year Long

Learn All Year Long

Learn All Year Long

Kids and teens should read and write even when they are out of school. Why is this so important?

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Parent & Afterschool Resources

ReadWriteThink has a variety of resources for out-of-school use. Visit our Parent & Afterschool Resources section to learn more.

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Activity

Write Theme Poems

 

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Write Theme Poems

Grades 3 – 5
Activity Time 30 minutes
Publisher International Reading Association
 

What You Need

Here’s What To Do

More Ideas To Try

Glossary

 

What You Need

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Here’s What To Do

Before beginning this activity, you may want to read some shape poems (also known as concrete poems) together. To find examples, look for the books on the Shape Poems Booklist at your local library. Talk about the kinds of words and shapes the authors use and the topics they write about.

1. Talk a little bit about shape poems. Explain that these are poems that look like the things they are about. A shape poem can describe an object or tell a short story about it.

2. Go to the online Theme Poems tool and have the child enter his or her name. You will see an sample poem. Notice the words in the sample poem, for example, juicy, red, and sweet. Ask the child what these words make him or her think of. What sense does the child use to know that something is juicy or sweet? Talk about the fact that in this poem sweet rhymes with treat—theme poems can rhyme, but they do not have to.

3. Click the Select a Theme link to access five categories: Nature, School, Sports, Celebrations, and Shapes. Explore the shape choices that are in each category, and have the child select one to write a poem about.

4.

Once the child has chosen a shape, you will see a screen in which to enter eight words or phrases to describe the shape. Ask the child to come up with a list of words or phrases. Depending on the child’s skill with the keyboard, you can type the words or have him or her type them. Remember that

  • You can use the child’s senses to help come up with words. What does the object look like? What does it feel like? How does it sound? How does it smell?

  • It can be helpful to type in phrases if the child has come up with words that rhyme or start with the same letter to see how the words look on the same line.

  • You can type only 20 characters in each of the fields, so do not use words like a or the. You can use these words later in the poem itself if you choose.

  • If you run out of space but not ideas, use a piece of paper to write down extra words.
5. Have the child look at the list of words and think about which words might belong together. For example, Which words have to do with the sense of sight? Which words have to do with something the child has done? Are there words that begin with the same letter? Do some of the words rhyme? Move the words around so that similar words are on the same line or are next to each other.

6. Click Continue and ask the child what the main idea of the poem will be. What is the most important idea that he or she wants to share? For example: Will the poem describe how a balloon floats? Will it talk about how it felt to play soccer at camp? Write the main idea on a piece of paper for the child to use as a reminder.

7.

Direct the child to choose words or phrases from the word list that connect to the main idea of the poem and start putting them inside the outline of the shape. While you are working together, remember

  • The poem does not have to use full sentences or punctuation.

  • The child can use words or ideas that are not on the list.

  • If the child is having trouble choosing which words to use, refer back to the main idea of the poem.

  • Think about the space of the shape; try using fewer words on a line where the space is narrow and more words on a line where the shape is wider.
8. When the poem is complete, ask the child to read it to you from the screen. Ask if there are any changes he or she would like to make. Once he or she is done revising the poem, print it. The child can cut it out and decorate it using art supplies to proudly display at home.

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More Ideas To Try

  • On a sheet of paper to use for writing additional theme poems, sketch other shapes that do not appear in the online Themee Poems tool. These shapes can tie to topics the child is learning about in school or because of personal interest. Follow the same process as the tool by thinking of words to describe the shape before beginning to write the shape poem.

  • Encourage the child to get extra creative by playing around with the words of the poem to fit inside the shape. As Paul Janeczko says in his delightful book with Chris Raschka A Poke in the I: A Collection of Concrete Poems (Candlewick, 2005), “concrete poetry is the yoga of words.” The words “wiggle about, curve around or hurtle down the page.”

Visit the Theme Poems page for more information about this tool.

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Glossary

Revising

 

A step in the process of writing something when the person who is writing makes changes to words and ideas. Revising can include adding, changing, or removing words and responding to comments from other readers.

Rhyme

 

Identical or very similar sounds in words (for example, cat and hat or book and look).

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