A poem doesn't have to be long - the smallest poems can create very successful word pictures. A poem also doesn't have to rhyme - it is very difficult to rhyme well and keep the rhythm smooth and flowing. Children think that a poem has to rhyme - I actively discourage rhymes in the beginning in order to free up their ideas and use of great language to express what they "see".
Suggestions for small poems
If I could be any animal, I'd be... (the child should name the animal and say why, or use a description). This was listed in the class poems, but can be taken further - encourage your students to think up at least three descriptions and/or reasons for choosing their animal.
I'd like to be a big brown bear
with a big brown growl
and four huge paws and claws
to hook fish right out of the river.
In winter, I'd curl up
in my deep, dark cave
and snore and dream
Five Things I Like About ...
You can provide a list of possible subjects (my house, my friends, my school) for those who might be stuck, but you should also open this up to any subject the student chooses. This is a good poem to follow the earlier, simple class poem as it allows them to write in short bursts, one idea at a time. Again, encourage them to be descriptive, to provide reasons and embellishments.
A colour poem can work in two ways - either the student can choose one colour and write about how it makes them feel, what it reminds them of, what significant things are the chosen colour; or they can choose a number of colours and describe a feeling and/or description for each one.
Example: Blue makes me feel like I am floating in the sky,
Red makes me think of blood,
Gold makes me feel bold,
Green makes me feel like jumping through the grass,
Yellow makes me think of the early morning,
Black makes me think of smoke and fire.
Make up a monster! Not like any monster you've ever seen before. Put in all the scariest things you can think of - write your poem so everyone else can imagine your monster too. (This is a poem that helps students move away from TV and movies, into their own vast imagination - encourage them to come up with new possibilities.)
Example: The Stringaling
The Stringaling hides in the wardrobe
and eats coathangers,
he's made of thick brown string
with long skinny arms
and long skinny legs.
He sneaks out at night
and ties you up
then winds his string around and around
and around you until
you're dead like a mummy.
Students can draw pictures to go with their poems if you want them to, but not until the poem is completed - let them use the words to create the poems, and then read them out so that you share the word pictures first.