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Primary School

Writing - Unit 3 Poetry

Poems with Structure

In this unit we will explore a range of poetry with different structures. 

Each day we will read and analyse at least one poem before using the structure of the poem as a model for our own writing.

In this way, we will build up a set of poems to publish at the end of the unit next week.


Monday 22nd February

Lesson One – Couplets

A rhyming couplet is two lines of poetry which go together and rhyme at the end of the lines. 

Here are two examples:

TWO SAD       William Cole

            It’s such a shock, I almost screech

            When I find a worm inside my peach!

            But then what makes me really blue

            Is to find a worm who’s bit in two!


            LULLABY                    Adrian Henri

            Imagine being asleep in the deep

            Counting whales instead of sheep.

These poems can be lots of fun, and quick to write.

Today we will use Stufferation by Adrian Mitchell to create a poem structured using rhyming couplets.

Lesson 1

Tuesday 23rd February

Lesson Two – Lists (metaphor)

List poems are lists that are held together by an idea and a poetic shape, such as a rhyming patterns or a regular rhythm.

Metaphor is a poetic device that describes one thing (often something familiar) as if it is something else.  The best metaphors use imaginative, fresh images.

Look at the following list of ideas to describe the moon.

            THE MOON IS…

            The moon is a silver coin on a black blanket.

            The moon is a ball of cheese where mice have eaten it.

            The moon is the pale face of a child in fright.

            The moon is a half-eaten, boiled potato.

Today we are going to create a list poem using a list of metaphors.

Lesson 2

Wednesday 24th February

Lesson Three – Lists (simile)

This poem uses the same idea of a list, but this time it is a list of similes.

Similes, like metaphors, compare one thing to another.  Similes use the words like, as or than to make the comparison explicit.


            THE WRITER OF THIS POEM           Roger McGough

               The writer of this poem

            Is taller than a tree

            As keen as the North Wind

            As handsome as can be


            As bold as a boxing-glove

            As sharp as a nib

            As strong as scaffolding

            As tricky as a fib


            As smooth as lolly-ice

            As quick as a lick

            As clean as a chemist-shop

            As clever as a ü


            The writer of this poem

            Never ceases to amaze

            He’s one in a million billion

            (or so the poem says!)


The poem is long list of boasts – but with a fun twist at the end where the writer of the poem lets you know that he joking.

Today we are going to create our own simile list poem.

Lesson 3

Thursday 25th February

Lesson Four – Occupations

These three poems describe three different jobs.

Each poem uses exactly the same structure.

The Sailor

I'd like to be a sailor - a sailor bold and bluff -

Calling out, "Ship ahoy!" in manly tones and gruff.

I'd learn to box the compass, and to reef and tack and luff;

I'd sniff and sniff the briny breeze and never get enough.

Perhaps I'd chew tobacco, or an old black pipe I'd puff,

   But I wouldn't be a sailor if ...

      The sea was very rough.

         Would you?

The Porter
I'd like to be a porter, and always on the run,
Calling out, "Stand aside!" and asking leave of none.
Shoving trucks on people's toes, and having splendid fun,
Slamming all the carriage doors and locking every one -
And, when they asked to be let in, I'd say, "It can't be done."
   But I wouldn't be a porter if ...
      The luggage weighed a ton.
         Would you?
The Barber
I'd like to be a barber, and learn to shave and clip,
Calling out, "Next please!” and pocketing my tip.
All day I'd hear my scissors going, "Snip, Snip, Snip;"
I'd lather people's faces, and their noses I would grip
While I shaved most carefully along the upper lip.
   But I wouldn't be a barber if ...
      The razor was to slip.
         Would you?
Choose a profession and write a poem using this structure.

Lesson 4

Friday 26th February

Lesson Five – Synonyms

This poem uses the idea of a list to create a poem – but this is a list of synonyms.

Synonyms are words with similar meanings.

I’m Talking Big                      Colin McNaughton

I’m talking big!           

I’m talking huge!

I’m talking enormous, immense,


I’m talking hulking, towering,

Titanic, mountainous!

I’m talking maximum, massive,

Stupendous, gigantic, monumental!

I’m talking fantastic, fabulous,

Incredible, unbelievable, mammoth,


I’m talking astronomical, mighty,

Monstrous, universal, colossal,

Magnificent, galactical!

I’m talking BIG!


Choose from the following words to write your own synonym list poem:

hot, cold, loud, quiet, fast or slow.

Lesson 5


Monday 1st March

Lesson Six – Onomatopoeia  

Another list poem to start the week, but this one is a list of sounds.

This poem uses the structure of a list, rhyming couplets, and onomatopoeic words.

Onomatopoeia is the use of words whose sound is described by the word itself, for example – sizzle.

            Noise              Jessie Pope

            I like noise.

            The whoop of a boy, the thud of a hoof,

            The rattle of rain on a galvanised roof.

            The hubbub of traffic, the roar of a train,

            The throb of machinery numbing the brain.

            The switching of wires in an overhead tram,

            The rush of the wind, a door on the slam,

            The boom of the thunder, the crash of the waves

            The din of a river that races and raves,

            The crack of a rifle, the clank of a pail,

            The strident tattoo of a swift-slapping sail –


            From any old sound that the silence destroys

            Arises a gamut of soul-stirring joys.

            I like noise.


Use onomatopoeic words to create your own I Like Noise poem.

Lesson 6

Tuesday 2nd March

Lesson Seven – Clerihew

Clerihew is a short, humorous, rhyming poem.  They were invented by Sir Edmund Clerihew Bentley.  They follow a strict structure:

The poem is made of two rhyming couplets.

The first line is the name of a person.


Here are two written by the poem’s inventor:

Sir Christopher Wren

Said, “I am going to dine with some men.

If anybody calls,

Say I’m designing St. Paul’s”


The Art of Biography

Is different from Geography.

Geography is about Maps

Biography is about Chaps.


Here is another by Roger McGough

            Jane Austen

            Got lost in


            Moral: she shouldn’t have went.


And finally – a little guidance from Paul Higgins (in Clerihew style)


            Aren’t too difficult to use.

            Choose a name and a rhyme

            And don’t worry about rhythm and time.


Choose a famous person (real or fictional), and write a humorous Clerihew of your own.

Lesson 7

Wednesday 3rd March

Lesson Eight – Nonsense Poems

It can be fun to write a nonsense poem as the rhymes can be as silly as you like.

Here is a poem about a pizza that I would definitely not like to eat!


            An Everything Pizza             Linda J Knaus

I ordered aneverything’ pizza,

Which probably was a mistake.

For it came with a bagful of doughnuts;

It came with a shovel and rake.

It came with a woman named Ida.

It came with a man from Peru.

It came with a half jar of peanuts.

It came with somebody’s left shoe.

It came with a clown from the circus.

It came with a butterfly net.

It came with a small piece of Kleenex

That was used by Marie Antoinette.

It came with an open umbrella.

It came with some old smelly socks.

It came with a picture of Lassie

And two lovely grandfather clocks.

It came with a nice set of dishes

It came with a stale loaf of bread.

It came with a sack of potatoes.

It came with a four-poster bed.

It came with a dining room table

It came with a washer and dryer

It came with a broken guitar string.

It came with a radial tyre.

It came with a golden retriever.

It came with a basket of fruit.

It came with a bottle of mustard.

It came with a red rubber boot.

It came with a college professor.

It came with a hive full of bees.

And then – this is simply amazing –

They forgot to put on any cheese!


Use this structured to write a very silly poem about school dinner on Wednesday!

Lesson 8

Thursday 4th March

Lesson Nine – Using all Senses

Poets take every-day experiences and describe them in fresh, surprising ways.

Using all the senses helps to describe the world around us in new and surprising ways.


The Magic of the Brain                     Jenny Joseph

            Such a sight I saw:

An eight-sided kite surging up into a cloud

Its eight tails streaming out as if they were one.

It lifted my heart as starlight lifts the head

Such a sight I saw.


And such a sound I heard.

One bird through the dim winter light as the day was closing

Poured out a song suddenly from an empty tree.

It cleared my head as water refreshes the skin

Such a sound I heard.


Such a smell I smelled:

A mixture of roses and coffee, of green leaf and warmth.

It took me to gardens and summer and cities abroad,

Memories of meetings as if my past friends were here

Such a smell I smelled.


Such soft fur I felt.

It wrapped me around, smoothing my winter-cracked skin,

Not gritty or stringy or sweaty but silkily warm

As my animal slept on my lap, and we both breathed content

Such soft fur I felt.


Such food I tasted:

Smooth-on-tongue soup, and juicy crackling of meat,

Greens like fresh fields, sweet-on-your-palate peas,

Jellies and puddings and fragrance of fruit they are made from

Such good food I tasted.


Such a world comes in:

Far world of the sky to breath in through your nose

Near world you feel under foot as you walk the land.

Through your eyes and your ears and your mouth and your brilliant brain

Such a world comes in.


Use this verse structure to write a senses poem of your own.

Lesson 9

Friday 4th March

Lesson Ten – Creating an Anthology

Now you have body of poetry, it is time to publish your work.

Collect all your poems together and decide on an order for your collection.

You can publish your poetry as a paper book, as a PowerPoint presentation, or by using the publishing tools in Purple Mash – it is your choice.

Create a front and back cover. 

On the front cover, include the name of the poet (that’s you) and a name for the anthology (collection of poems). 

On the back cover, include a short description of the poet and the poems.

Include a contents page.

Decide what illustrations (if any) will accompany your poems.


Here is a poem by Brian Patten that I have illustrated using photographic images. 

The images help the reader visualise the imagery of the poem.

Not Only - Brian Patten

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