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Writing a Rhyming Poem


Aims: By the end of the class all the students should have written an 8 line rhyming poem. Although the outcome is a piece of writing, the emphasis here is really on pronunciation and rhyming words.

Level: B1 +


1.Write on the board some pairs of words that rhyme, muddle them all up. Here are some examples: cat – fat (æt), though – grow (əʊ), bird – word (ɜ:d), should – good (ʊd), cry – lie (aɪ), proud – allowed (aʊd), pay – grey (eɪ), though – go (əʊ), food – argued (ʊ:d) (These are just suggestions, the words will need to be adapted depending on the level of the class)

2. Put the class into two teams and ask them to take it in turns to come up to the board and draw a line to connect the correct pair. Award one point for a correct answer, and take a point away if they are incorrect.

3. Write the phonetic symbols up if the students are familiar with them. Drill the pairs of words. Then rub all the words out (leave the phonetic symbols if you have used them). Give them one of the words from the pair and encourage them to shout out the rhyming word (eg. Teacher: ‘Cat’, Students: ‘Fat!’).

4. If you have used the phonetic symbols now point to one of them on the board and choose a student to give you one of the words with that sound, and then get them to choose another student to give the pair (eg. Teacher (pointing to the symbol /æt/): ‘Maria?’ Maria: ‘Cat. Abdul?’ Abdul: ‘Fat’).

5. Now choose one of the words, for example ‘cat’ and put the students into small groups and give them 2 minutes to come up with as many rhyming words as they can. Put all the words on the board when you have finished, for example: cat, mat, rat, bat, fat, sat, that, etc.

6. Elicit when we might see rhymes, hopefully someone will say in poems! Tell them the class are going to write a four line poem about a cat. Ask if anyone has an idea for the first line, etc. (you can do this as a whole class or in groups). You will probably end up with something like this:

There was a cat,

who sat on a mat,

He was so very fat,

He couldn’t even catch a rat.

7. Put up an example of an 8 line rhyming poem on the board, like this (terrible) poem I wrote for this purpose (feel free to use it but, really, I won’t be offended if you don’t!)

I sat down in the park

and gazed upon the flowers,

I thought of places past,

and wished away the hours.

The day was clear and sunny,

the sky was as blue as your eyes,

the wind rippled through the air,

like the sound of your lies.

(nb. this poem uses a simile (‘the sky was as blue as your eyes’). If you haven’t looked at this structure with the class either change it or go through it quickly. There is a post on similes here though and it can be a good lead in to this lesson.)

Ask the students what they think the poem is about, how does the writer feel, what do they think has happened to them, etc. Then ask them to identify which words rhyme and highlight them on the board. I like to write up the pattern ABCB DEFE.

8. Tell the students they are going to write a poem that rhymes like the one on the board. Ask them to think of a topic or assign them one (love, nature, winter, learning English, homesickness, etc). Tell them to spend 3 minutes brainstorming some words they associate with the topic.

9. When they have brainstormed, ask them to look at their words and try to think of some words that might rhyme with them. Then ask them to try to write a poem.

10. When they have finished, put them in pairs and ask them to practice reading their poems to each other. Monitor and help with pronunciation.

11. Ask for volunteers to read their poems to the class. If they have chosen their own topics get the other students to ask if they can guess what they are about.

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