Ideas for poems are everywhere! Think of yourself as a hunter of poems, and carry a notebook so you never let an idea get away.
It can be very useful to find a poem for your class and model an exercise on it – this is what is on the page – A Poem a Week – which has lots of poems and associated poetry exercises.
Some other things I recommend are:
* Keep a folder of ideas – cut out pictures and stories from newspapers and magazines.
* Make up a list of great titles and write a poem about each one. Some good titles to get you started:
In My Street
Please Pass Me the …..
A Brush with Death
The Cow on the Moon
If Books Weren’t Made of Paper
A (xxx) Lives in my Garden (you insert the animal or object)
Who Cut Your Hair?
* Find an old photo of people or a place you don’t know anything about, and write a poem about it, using what you see in the photo.
* Ask your mum or dad (or grandparent) to tell you about something they remember from their childhood, and write a poem where you change some of the details.
* Turn on the TV and write down the first sentence you hear – write a poem starting with that sentence.
* Imagine you are a machine of some kind and write a poem.
* Close your eyes, open the dictionary randomly and point at the page. Write down the word your finger is resting on. Do this twice more. Write a poem using those three words.
* Make yourself a Poetry Deck of Cards – start with ten words you really like, then ten nouns, ten good adjectives, ten emotions, three colours, six words picked randomly from the dictionary, three words that are a sound, three words that describe a taste or smell. Put each word on a separate card. You can add to this if you want more. Whenever you feel like writing a poem, choose three, four or five cards (without looking first) and use them in a poem. This will stretch your imagination!
More advanced poem writing
These are a little more challenging, and probably require your students to have written a few poems (and read lots too) and understand a little more about how to make their material into a poem, rather than a chopped-up story!
Write a Note – write a poem that is a note to someone or something. Maybe you could write a note to your cat or dog, or someone you have had a fight with (and want to make up). Or you could write about a good time you shared with them.
Look at this poem by William Carlos Williams, This is just to say.
A Victory Poem – write a poem about the moment when you either won something, achieved something you always wanted to do, or learned how to do something new. How did it feel? Give us details of what it was like, what you actually did, and show us your emotions. Rather than say I felt wonderful, try to use physical descriptions such as My brain buzzed like a cicada or All my muscles jumped up and down.
I Remember – write a poem about something that happened to you that you remember very clearly. This could be your first memory way back in kinder, or more recently. Show us word pictures of where you were and what happened, and what the ending of it was. It’s like telling a small story, in a poem.
Great Places – what place is special to you? Where have you had a great time, or an awful time? Write a poem in which you show us this place through details and description. Try to use five different details, and include smells and sounds as well.
A Worry Poem – write a poem about something that worries or bothers you. This can be a good way of ‘getting it off your chest’, but also remember that you would like others to read your poem and understand how you feel, so put in plenty of details and show how you feel about it.
Character Poem – is there somebody you really like or admire? Write a poem about them, why you like or admire them and, if it is someone famous, you can imagine what it might be like to meet them! What would you do? What would you say?
Dreams of Tomorrow – what are some of your dreams for the future? What do you think you might be when you grow up? Maybe you don’t know yet, but there are possibilities you have thought of. Maybe you dream of travelling to Mt Everest, or trekking through the jungle. Let your imagination go and write a poem about your future.
Your Bedroom – write a poem about your bedroom. Show us what it looks like, what are your favourite things, what you’d like to change, how you feel in your room. You could start this poem In my room …
Desert Island poem – write a poem about you and your desert island. What is on it? What would you take if you had a choice? Have you been shipwrecked? How are you surviving? Is there anyone else there? Imagine your own island and tell us about it.
Diary Poem – write a poem that starts with a date. It could be today, it could be your birthday, it could be a special day you remember. Write the poem like a diary, with your thoughts and what happened. Or you could imagine a perfect day and describe it as if it really happened.
If I Wasn’t Me – write a poem in which you imagine you are the other gender, i.e. if you are a boy, imagine you are a girl, and vice versa.
Write about what your day would be like, what you might do, how you would feel. What kinds of things would the ‘other you’ do that you don’t do now?
Villain Poem – who is your favourite story or movie villain/bad guy? What do you like about them? Invent your own villain and write a poem about him/her. Don’t forget those details so we can imagine your villain too.
Why I Didn’t Do My Homework – not because the dog ate it or the computer blew up! Write a poem that comes up with three amazing reasons why you haven’t done your homework.
Don’t forget to check out the page – A Poem a Week – which has lots of poems and associated poetry exercises.