30 Days of Poetry Assignments to Get Creative Juices Flowing

Anna is really into poetry lately and Toria has been having fun writing some poetry too.

I used to be quite a prolific poet, with over a hundred poems published in my angsty younger days (mostly in small journals).  I minored in creative writing in college and did poetry readings in coffee houses in slightly scandalous clothes.

I also used to have fun doing poetry assignments with friends, challenging each other to write in different voices or with strange requirements.

I thought it would be fun to make up a list of a month’s worth of poetry assignments for my kids, and post it here in case anybody else wants to play along — parents too!

If you or your kids do take part and you want to share any of the resulting poems, please do!

Remind the kids that the only rule of poetry is that there are no rules. Poems don’t have to rhyme.  You don’t have to use proper capitalization or punctuation.  You can break sentences in the middle of the line (and it’s often a good thing!).

In the spirit of no rules, let the kids know that they’re free to substitute their own assignments or change them up on any day, too!

30 Days of Poetry Assignments

  1. Write a poem where every line starts with the same letter.
  2. Write a poem from the point of view of a plant.
  3. Write a poem that uses a great deal of alliteration (here’s a refresher what alliteration means).
  4. Write a poem to yourself.
  5. Write a poem that starts with the first three words of a song lyric that you like.  End it with three more words from the lyrics.
  6. Create a found poem.  Here’s a refresher of what found poetry is.  Experiment a lot with where you break the lines and end the poem in order to make the biggest impact.
  7. Write a poem with lines that all have odd numbers of words, and no repeat of numbers (for instance, lines could be 7, 5, 9, 13 and 1 word long).
  8. Write a poem about a historic figure.
  9. Write a poem that retells a fairy tale theme in a new way (for instance, from the perspective of the wicked witch, or with Snow White choosing a different ending).
  10. Write a twitter poem — it must be 140 characters or less.
  11. Take an old poem of your own and replace at least 50% of the words with new words (they can be synonyms, antonyms or any words at all).  See which version you prefer.  Then write the poem again with whichever words you prefer.
  12. Do the same exercise with a classic nursery rhyme.
  13. Write a poem that is exactly 16 lines long and starts with the word sometimes.
  14. Write a haiku about winter.  (Remember, a haiku is generally 5-7-5 syllables long.)
  15. Open up a book and put your finger on a random word.  Do it 9 more times.  Write down those 10 words and use them in a poem.
  16. Write a poem that includes the words other, mother, smother and/or cover at least 10 times (any of the words or all).  Feel free to add other words and phrases that sound similar (such as brother and of her).
  17. Write a poem as an elderly version of yourself looking back on these years.
  18. Write a poem that starts with the word and.
  19. Find a photograph that you like (that you took or found) and write a poem to accompany it.
  20. Write FOREVER down a sheet of paper.  Write a poem with each line starting with the corresponding letter.
  21. Pick one of the 24 poets every child should know and read at least 5 poems by her/him, then write a poem about a subject in one of the poems while the poet’s voice is still fresh in your mind.
  22. Write a gravestone poem — a poem about someone who has died (made up, real, historical, anyone) that would fit on a gravestone and sum up that person in just a few short lines.
  23. Write a poem about an aspect of yourself that is made up for the poem (for instance, what it’s like to be an immigrant or the time you saved the world).
  24. Write a dice poem.  Get out one or two dice and roll to see how many words each line should be.  If you like, roll to find out how many lines long it should be, too.
  25. Think of a popular ad slogan and work that into a poem.  Try to use the phrase in a totally different way (for instance, making “good to the last drop” be about tears).
  26. Write a poem about a childhood memory.
  27. Set a timer for 3 minutes and write a random poem about anything that comes to mind nonstop with your non-dominant hand (for instance, your left hand if you are right handed).  When the timer goes off, recopy it with your dominant hand and add three lines anywhere in the poem.
  28. Write a poem about a dream you’ve had.
  29. Write a poem that incorporates at least three senses (for instance, what you can hear, see or taste).
  30. Write a poem about yourself in the third person (as if you were writing about someone else).

If you want to do more with poetry, I have my 10 week poetry for kids course (free) online here.

I’ll share some of the poems we come up with here.  :)

 

 

 

A little poem by Anna

Anna (13) wrote this poem and I thought I’d post it in honor of the season.  She’s quite a prolific poet these days and I love watching her poetry evolve.

When We Were Young

When we were young
the simplest of Christmas lights
were a thousand stars in our eyes.

The mechanical reindeer
were unimaginable,
how did they move
if they weren’t alive?

The snow on the ground
was like the fine sand on Florida beaches,
and we made angels
for the sun to melt
like the tide washed our castles away.

When we were young,
Santa brought all our presents
and we were in bed by nine
waiting to see if we would hear
the bells on Santa’s sleigh.

When we were young,
candy canes were the highlight of the season,
along with our stockings
stuffed with bobbles and toy cars.

When we were young,
the world was a million times as large as it seemed,
and the full December moon
fit in a nutshell.

(Rhiannon Bayer)

A Poem by Anna

Our family lost two of our cats within the last week, of completely unrelated causes.  It was hard on us all.

My kids have had a lot of experience with death in their lives, not only from losing far too many pets and adults they’ve known, but also the loss of Victoria’s and Anna’s dearly loved friend Hannah when they were younger. The loss of Hannah had a profound impact on both girls that continues on for all of us.

Anna wrote songs about Hannah nearly every day for months after her death.  It helped her grieve.  Writing is still a huge part of how she processes things, and she recently joined an online poetry forum where she’s had fun taking part in challenges and posting her poems.

She wrote this poem about me and losses last night and she gave me permission to share it here.

….
Death of loved ones
hurt and pain
until only you remain
standing strong throughout the crowd
waiting for me to return

During struggles that drag us down
you are the one pulling us back to shore
when we’re so lost,
when we nearly drown
you are the buoy who stays afloat

when we are shaken,
lost,
overcome
you are the one who restrains us
before we lose who we have grown to be
you are the one who shapes us

One more cry of a name
one more loss
one more gain
once more tragedy comes around
once more you keep me safe and sound.

~Rhiannon (Anna) Lee Bayer

10 Fun Ways We’ve Learned and Played Recently

Oh my goodness, we’ve been busy!  Summer is just a blur around here, even with the pageant finally over.  It’s been nice, though, and it was cool and rainy for part of the week and I really liked that.  It makes it nicer for our nightly badminton games.  :)

Here’s a bit of what we’ve been up to….

1.  Went to De Smet, SD, to check out Laura Ingalls Wilder’s home after Walnut Grove.

This is what’s left of the big, beautiful Silver Lake from Laura’s books.  It’s marsh land now, drained for agriculture by area farmers and further dried up by drought.

They are trying to protect/restore it now in order to have a habitat for water birds (hunting is a big part of the tourist industry in South Dakota) and because draining the lakes led to the land being vulnerable to floods and they’ve realized they need wetlands to protect the towns and farms.

2.  Watched another Wilder Pageant, the De Smet version.

The kids got to take a wagon ride before the show and got to meet the cast.  They also liked being in the audience for once!

It was so small compared to ours!

And it was a bit surprising to me that they had Santa in the cast!  :)

We went there and back the same day and got home very late that night.  We didn’t think we could afford the trip if we stayed at a motel and it seemed like a waste if we were only going to be sleeping there anyway!  It was kind of fun having a road trip into the wee hours!

3.  Anna went to the library, the pool and her friend’s house today. Her friend called and said, “You’re finally home!  You’ve been busy for like three years!”.  It does seem like it!

4.  Jack has been having a blast with these giant Tinker Toys. My aunt gave them to me when the girls were tiny and they were buried in the garage.  I’ve been cleaning out the garage this week and I knew the pefect boy to show them to!  Here’s the robot we built together.

5.  The girls have been reading and reciting poetry. They are both on a poetry kick and have been arguing over who gets to read aloud at night before bed!  Yes, my girls will even argue about reading poetry.  :)   It doesn’t hurt that we have some beautiful little poetry books covered in velvet and embossed leather, plus picture books of classic poems that are wonderfully illustrated.  Current favorites– The Highwayman, Annabelle Lee, The Raven, Elizabeth Barrett Browning & Shakespeare.

6.  Anna and I made a million squash blossom dishes. She was such a great sous chef!  She hand washed and cleaned every blossom to remove the bitter stamens and then we stuffed some with a ricotta mixture, battered them and fried them.  You can read our results in the comments of the squash post a few days ago.  We weren’t that impressed.  :)   Next time we’re just going to use them as pretty toppings!

Filling the flowers!

Filled, twisted and ready to be battered…

Topping our pesto veggie crazy-crust pizza…

The pizza was a big hit!  Victoria wants me to make it every night, but she’s easy to please.  Here’s what it looks like when you eat flowers for dinner.

It was still a fun experiment and we learned a lot about plant fertilization, male and female blossoms, etc.!

7.  We played Snail Pace (or Snail Race or something like that!). My grandma sent this game today and the kids liked it a bit but I am really not impressed.  It says that it’s non-competitive and I really do like that sort of game but egads, I just thought it was the dullest game ever.  You line up 6 colored snails and roll colored dice to see which snail you move forward.  Everybody takes turns rolling, moving snails and guessing who’s going to win.  That’s it.  It’s supposed to be for kids ages 3 to 7 but I’m not sure what 7 year old would really get excited about this.  I think we might pass it on to the local Head Start or another family.

8.  We made homemade butter. Jack and Daddy did the first batch after learning how at the Walnut Grove family festival.  Then the girls each made a batch of their own.

Straining the buttermilk out…

Make sure you rinse your finished butter lots under fresh cold water and press it all out.   It will mold if any buttermilk remains!

Yum!

9.  Cooking, cooking, cooking! Yesterday we made a giant batch of the most delicious walnut basil pesto from the farmers’ market basil haul.  We get it from the man we call The Purple Bean Guy because he sells purple beans that we love.  We did a taste test of his purple, green and yellow beans one week.  He’s a really fun guy with a wonderful spirit and he sells enormous bags of gorgeous herbs for 75 cents each.  We also made zucchini muffins, zucchini cake, deviled eggs (from farm fresh eggs from “Those Crazy Goat Ladies” at the FM — and yes, that’s their business name!), refrigerator cukes,…. tons of wonderful foods!

10.  Inviting in some guests! Victoria found a miniscule little monarch caterpillar egg on a milkweed leaf in the yard the other day.  She’s been on the lookout for them!  She brought it in, leaf and all, and put it in a jar with a cloth cover (air can get in, caterpillars can’t get out!).  Today we had an itty bitty caterpillar in there, so tiny you had to squint to see him!  Victoria went out to get him a fresh leaf and accidentally brought in another little egg.  Let the butterfly season begin.  :)

(Looks like I need to dust!)  :)

It is now 11:30 and every single one of my children is awake!  Ack!  Alex took a very late nap and woke up when he ought to be going to bed.  Anna is sick and unfathomably cranky.  Jack is just being trouble, trouble, trouble.  Victoria is halfway in my good graces (she’s helping keep a fussy Alex entertained) and half on my bad side (she keeps taunting her already cranky sister).  It is probably going to be a long night.

It’s all good though.  It may be bedlam, but I still love summer… and this loud, crazy bunch!