5th grade poetry

5th Grade Poetry: Help Please!

April as National Poetry Month has hit our elementary school. Both my kids have been hard at work composing poems at school. My son’s 2nd grade poetry unit did not requiring rhyming and it was modeled after color poems by Mary O’Neill. Poetry gets more challenging in 5th grade as I discovered in our recent Parent Teacher conference.

The 5th grade Parent Teacher conferences have expanded to include the student. PickyKidPix showed me her poem during our Parent/Teacher/Student conference this past week. She did a beautiful job rhyming and illustrating her poem.

5th grade poems have to rhyme! I did not realize that. The first line gave her a bit of trouble so I wanted to see if anyone could help her out.

5th Grade Poetry Unit with Rhyming Challenge

Lucy the llasket is a __________________.

When you see her  you will know why

She had written:

Lucy the llasket is a very distinct animal.


Here’s mine:

Lucy the llasket is hard to picture.

At the zoo, she’s not a fixture.


or here’s another that popped into my head this morning.

Lucy the llasket is a very distinct creature.

Let me tell you about a few crazy features.

Composing a rhyming poem is tough! Can you help her out? I think she did very well as a 5th grade poet of rhymes.


5th Grade Poetry Unit Stretches Vocabulary

Her teacher wants her to work on expanding her vocabulary and pointed out that the only big word in her poem is “distinct” so I wanted to preserve that word. PickyKidPix thinks that big words are harder to rhyme so one strategy was to put them anywhere in the poem but at the end.

Personally, I love her illustration. Reminds me of the picture book Put Me In the Zoo.

I’m impressed how kids, when assigned, can compose poems that rhyme without the use of a rhyming dictionary which I had to prevail upon. I also like their fearlessness towards poetry. I am starting to think that all kids are natural poets. What do you think?

5th grade poetry

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Hmm… I’m not the writer in this neighborhood but I will have Katrina stop by later today with a suggestion – she loves to write poems! I just want to say that I also adore your daughter’s drawing as well as her poem.

    Your son’s poem is fantastic. I adore his sense of humor. He is a smart kid!
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  2. What a funny creature! I recommend that your daughter write lots of pairs of rhyming words and then form the first two lines around the words that make the best sense for the poem. The fact that her teacher wants the poem to rhyme should not encourage her to sacrifice meaning…it just might mean she needs to play around a bit more before finding a meaningful rhyme. I wouldn’t worry about holding onto the word ‘distinct’ as another great word may well present itself when she allows herself to play around with many possibilities. Who knows? She may even move lines 3 and 4 to the 1 and 2 slots… When we allow ourselves to play around with a larger chunk of text, it helps open up ideas we might not otherwise consider. I do this daily, and I find that it frees up new words. (I think I want one of those as a pet…) Best to her! a.
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  3. Barbara Wilkins

    Lucy the llasket is a sight to see.
    If you come across her path, you must let her be.

  4. I hope she keeps at it. I loved to write poetry as a child and gave my future husband a love poem which he has kept all these years. I now incorporate it in some of my craft projects.

    Lucy the llasket’s a joy to behold
    She’s shy and kind and never bold.

  5. Catherine Johnson

    What a fun poem and lovely illustrations. I wish my son would practise his handwriting it is awful! Your daughter is doing great and I agree with Amy to brainstorm lots of ideas first. Definitely think of the end words first.
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  6. I’d like to echo something that Amy said about playing with the words. It’s hard, and not fun, to have to abandon a word that you love for the sake of better content and rhymes.

    Often what I choose to do in these situations is to see if the word fits elsewhere in the line; the beginning or the middle of the same line, perhaps. There are lots of ways to emphasize a word without it being one of the rhyming pairs. Adding assonance or alliteration can bring attention to a bold word choice too.

    I love the illustration to go with the poem!

    • Hi Samuel,
      Your advice is so wonderful in working with the poem, and playing around with it.

      assonance (had to look that up):

      Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds to create internal rhyming within phrases or sentences, and together with alliteration and consonance serves as one of the building block of verse. For example, in the phrase “Do you like blue?”, the /uː/ (“o”/”ou”/”ue” sound) is repeated within the sentence and is assonant.


      Alliteration is the repetition of a particular sound in the prominent lifts (or stressed syllables) of a series of words or phrases. Alliteration has developed largely through poetry, in which it more narrowly refers to the repetition of a consonant in any syllables that, according to the poem’s meter, are stressed[citation needed], as in James Thomson’s verse “Come…dragging the lazy languid Line along”. Another example is Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers.

      Thanks for your great suggestions and for teaching us more about creating great poems. The idea of an internal rhyme within a story is intriguing!
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  7. Vow Darling (Pen Name)

    If the first two letters are two L’s, Llasket, I would recommend use of “basket” and give a fun description of what the basket looks like – with the descriptive words before it. Example: Tiny, flower or funny-looking basket. (I do up customized, comfort baskets for fun and future fund-raising efforts for The REAPs Foundation to be officially registered this year, 2013 as the only research site for, by and with women surrounding maternal health care, prevention and support re: Postpartum Blues Syndrome: Blues, Depression and Psychosis phases underneath this syndrome umbrella. Best regards, D.A.G.

  8. Do you have a rhyming dictionary? They make writing rhyming poems much easier!
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  9. jean

    is a very small fry

  10. Maria Gianferrari

    What a great drawing she did!

    I love Amy’s advice–rhyme should not sacrifice meaning. I also agree, rather than sticking with the word “distinct” have her write specific ways in which the creature’s features are distinct using sensory language: not just visual, but olfactory, touch, taste (if possible), sound. Then try to find rhymes for these words, and then pair them together in a way that it makes a story. If she thinks of Lucy as a character—what she specific things she likes to do; eat; what her favorite color/activities are, that may also help.

    Reading poetry also helps loosen things up. Jack Prelutsky’s verse is fun, light, clever and very playful. Last year my daughter and her friend (then in 4th grade) enjoyed reading the poems in “I’ve Lost My Hippopotamus” aloud for fun, not for school. It was so sweet to hear them laughing and having a great time.

    And by the way, you should also check out Amy’s new book “Forest Has a Song.” We’re nature lovers here, Amy, and my daughter and I both loved your ode to nature’s creatures and the beautiful, watercolor illustrations!

    • Hi Maria,
      I am a big fan of Forest Has a Song too! I will actually be doing a giveaway for Amy’s book soon as part of a Top 10 Poetry for Kids book list that includes Jack Prelutsky.

      Seems like I need you to guest post for me Maria. Your suggestions are wonderful! Amy Ludwig Vanderwater will be guest posting for the last day of National Poetry Month too.

      Thank you for all your excellent suggestions! Please guest post for me! Pretty please?!
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  11. Thank you for the kind words, Maria! Mia shared about my book (so generously) earlier this month. I am so glad that you and your daughter like it. Robbin Gourley is a fantastic and soulful artist. Happy Poetry Month! a.
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  12. Elle Carter Neal

    I don’t tend to write rhyming poetry very often for the reason that others have mentioned – it can be too hard to maintain meaning when trying to force a rhyme. There are already some good options in the other comments. When I look at all the work she’s already done, I want to offer an option that makes the least amount of change to her work, so mine is:

    “Lucy the llasket is very distinct / When I first saw her I looked and I blinked”

    But next time perhaps your daughter could also play around with rhyming schemes (“aabb” is the scheme she’s using, but sometimes “abab” works well because it takes the pressure off having to find a rhyming word in the second line that relates directly to the first line).

    Also, get her to squeeze another “o” in after “to” in the line: “She’s [to] tall to take a shower” (should be “too”) 😉
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    • Hi Elle,
      I love that you found non-obvious rhyming pair. Your two lines are wonderful but I don’t think I would have ever come up with it in a million years. Did you use a rhyming dictionary to find that pair? If not, you are naturally gifted!!!

      Thanks for your wonderful ideas. I think her teacher is letting spelling and grammar for poetry go since no one corrected that “too” in the final draft. I’m sure the rhyming aspect of the assignment was enough for the kids to focus on. But good advice to catch that.

      I like the idea of different rhyming schemes. Does Dr. Seuss use abab a lot? His books flow so easily when you read them aloud.
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  13. Maria Gianferrari

    Mia,I would love to guest post! Thank you for inviting me to do so! What do I have to do?

    You are more than welcome, Amy! It’s such a gem of a book!

    I sometimes use this online rhyming dictionary, if that helps your daughter too:


  14. Lucy the llasket is very distinct.
    To both llamas and birds her appearance is linked.

    Lucy the llasket is very distinct.
    She’s part brown and part spotted, but no parts are pink.

    Lucy the llasket is very distinct.
    She is one of a kind; all the rest are extinct.

    🙂 I like the poem and imaginary animal! While it\’s frustrating that the teacher insisted on a rhyming poem, I do feel that if part of a poem rhymes, it should rhyme all the way through. Your daughter might like the book Anastasia Krupnik by Lois Lowry, about a girl who works really hard writing an interesting poem for school and then finds out that everyone else’s poem rhymes and they all think her poem is weird.

    My family loves making up bagel songs that rhyme. Your blog will not let me post the link, but if you search “bagel” on my site you’ll find instructions.
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  15. Elle Carter Neal

    Oh you’re making me blush now! I just came up with distinct/blinked off the top of my head because I was reading the first line thinking of how to create a rhyme without changing too much of the words already there, plus you’d written that the teacher wanted her to keep “distinct”, so it was the word I focused on. The rhyming scheme for “The Cat in the Hat” is abcb, so the rhyme is not obvious until the fourth line of the verse. But you also need to have a tight metre in order to gain that melodic cadence that makes it so pleasant to read aloud. Here’s a good article on metre: http://www.writing.upenn.edu/~afilreis/88/meter.html
    Elle Carter Neal recently posted…Orb’s Return (Poetry)My Profile

    • Hi Elle,
      It is so helpful to get professional writers advice on writing and rhyming. My daughter is so excited to read your suggestions. Hopefully, she will take the great advice too. (Tweens though, very hard to advise!).
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  16. Jeanette Nyberg

    You MUST keep that forever. The giraffe is beautiful, and ‘her neck is like the Eiffel Tower’ is a pretty priceless line.
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    • Thanks so much Jeanette! PickyKidPix loved all the comments and smiled with appreciation when I read her all the different suggestions. She says thank you to everyone for their help! She could not believe that people (adults!) would take the time to make rhymes for her so thank you for that!!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Teaching Poetry at Home To Your KidsMy Profile

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