Does it have to rhyme? How many times do we hear children ask this question? Young writers can become a bit obsessed with making their poems rhyme and can sometimes, if left to their own devices produce pieces that are nonsensical and a tad boring. Children love to use rhythm and rhyme, so is there a way to make it easier for them to produce better quality and more meaningful poems? The following piece by Charles Thomson provides an excellent scaffold:
I’ve Never Seen
I’ve never seen a fridge climb a tree.
I’ve never seen a dog as small as a bee.
I’ve never seen a lamp-post shake my hand.
I’ve never seen a tiger play in a band.
I’ve never seen a pigeon smoke a pipe.
I’ve never seen an elephant learn to type.
I’ve never seen a television dance a jig.
I’ve never seen a pillar-box swallow a pig.
I’ve never seen a feather that weighed a ton.
I’ve never seen an igloo built on the sun.
I’ve never seen a mountain wear a hat.
I’ve never seen a caterpillar catapult a cat.
I have used this poem on several occasions as a template for children in KS2. I usually begin by reciting the poem together as a class including actions. I then go on to talk about what techniques Charles Thomson used.
The rhyme is a simple AABB structure. When I explore the rhythm I bring everyone’s attention to the beats in the line so we can give it a rough measurement. In this case I ask the children to try and keep roughly to 10 beats per line so that rhythm remains standardised.
I love the fact that because the subjects of the poem have ‘never been seen’ they don’t actually have to make sense in themselves and this gives us licence to be as adventurous and anarchic as we like.
I’ve just challenged my 8 year old twins to have a go at this one. This is what they have come up with:
I’ve never seen a beetle light a fire.
I’ve never seen a panda change a tyre.
I’ve never seen a postman deliver some bread.
I’ve never seen a monkey in my bed.
I’ve never seen a vampire drinking juice.
I’ve never seen my brother chase a goose.
I’ve never seen an alien go to school.
I’ve never seen a lion ride a mule.
Once you have started your children off with this idea you’ll find them difficult to stop! Great for writing in a group or with a partner there is literally no end to the crazy ideas they can bring together while using effective rhythm and rhyme as they go. As you can imagine after adding illustrations these poems would make a magnificent display and would be great for performing in a class assembly.
And remember, if, after starting this poem with your class someone should come up to you and say ‘Does it have to rhyme?’ you can answer with a resounding YES!!!
Help me spread the word about using poetry as a powerful learning tool in the new curriculum by liking me on Facebook here: