Shape poetry, or concrete poetry, develops the physical form of the words on paper. So, a poem about the stars would take the shape of a star (or stars). While the words, writing style, and literary devices impact the meaning of the poem, the physical shape of the poem is also of significance.
Combining content and form creates a powerful effect in the field of poetry. Let's enjoy a few examples of shape poems for kids. Then, we'll walk through the steps to help your child or student create a shape poem of their own.
In certain shape poems, it's easy to tell why the author chose a specific image to go along with the words adding to the creativity and free spirit behind the movement. In others, the reader must look deeper into the text to reveal the image. This develops a nice level of appreciation for the art that this discipline inspires. Let's enjoy some samples.
This poem is about a child who just found out she's going to have a baby sister. Students can shape this into any image pertaining to babies, from a baby itself, to a pacifier, to a high chair.
I'm about to have a baby sister.
I can't wait to kiss her.
Dad wants to name her Joan.
That only makes mom moan.
If it were me, I'd name her Celeste.
Because, for my little sister, she will only have the best.
The shape poem below opens itself up to an array of beach-themed imagery. The obvious choice would be a seagull, but students can also choose something like the shape of a wave. Broad topics like this leave plenty of room for artistic inspiration.
The seagulls squawk noisily in the breeze.
With such a happy life, what could they possibly be moaning about?
If I were a seagull, I'd never stop singing.
I'd play with the sandpipers and swish through the wind.
And, when night fell, I'd dance under the moonlight and dream of tomorrow.
Like the beach theme, Christmas comes with an array of objects and images. Students might want to fashion their poem into a Christmas tree, an ornament, or a baby in a manger. Options abound, making this a nice seasonal activity.
Christmastime is near.
Soon, we'll wrap the house in lights
and watch it sparkle in delight.
Oh, how I love this time of year!
I mailed my list to Santa.
I just know he's going to grant me my one and only wish,
a pup named Trevor who will stay with me forever.
There's no doubt shape poems help students develop their style and express important ideas. It's fun for little learners to create a simple shape with their words. To gather ideas, you can take them on a walk outside to look for inspiration in nature.
Here's a step-by-step guide to becoming an inspiring shape poem maker:
Encourage students to choose their own object and subject. (Consider that walk around the school or playground for inspiration.)
With a pencil, help students lightly draw the shape of their object on paper.
Ask students to write their poem on a separate sheet of paper. Now's the time to brainstorm the length of their lines in relation to the shape they chose. For example, if they chose a triangle, they might want to write shorter sentences at the top that get progressively longer.
With a pencil, ask students to copy their poem into the shape they've drawn on paper.
See where they may need to make their text larger or smaller.
Then, ask them to erase the outline of their shape (from step 2).
Finally, staple or glue a colorful piece of construction paper behind their easy shape poem and display it proudly in the classroom!
It's important not to force the image. Ask students to jot down some words and play with them. Remember, it might take awhile before those words take shape. Remind students they don't have to feel constricted by others' perceptions of reality.
For example, if you they wanted to write about a box, they could easily add vertical lines throughout the length of the box to represent a prison. Now, they're positioned to write a poem about the constrictions that come with thinking "inside the box."
To help students get started, download the PDF below with poem lines in the shape of a bird. Ask them to write a poem that relates to the shape.
With activities such as this, you stand a chance to instill a lifelong love of poetry in your children and students. Kids (and adults) seem to gravitate toward personification. It brings things like the wind and trees to life. Anyone who loves Beauty and the Beast understands the power of a talking candelabra.
In your next poetry lesson, it might be nice to "up the ante" in shape poetry, or any type of poetry. Ask your students to sprinkle some personification into their prose. We hope these examples of personification for kids will help you ignite the fire.