How To Teach Poetry In Year Six

Written by Dan

Introducing poetry in Year Six presents a unique opportunity for teachers to spark creativity in their students while helping them build language and critical thinking skills.

More than just an escape into the world of verse, teaching poetry at this stage can help students express their ideas, emotions, and understanding of various topics. Teachers need to approach poetry in a way that engages and inspires students while also providing supportive guidance.

Before diving into poetry lessons, it’s essential to establish a solid foundation for students. This begins with understanding different forms of poetry and their structures, such as rhyming, rhythm, and symbolism.

Speaking the language of poetry fluently allows teachers to effectively convey the elements that make it so special.

Instructional strategies for teaching poetry in Year Six should go beyond merely sharing famous literary works with students. The focus should be on making poetry accessible and relatable by encouraging students to experiment with various formats and style.

Through interactive activities and workshops, students can learn to draft, revise and eventually present their poetry pieces to the classroom, fostering a sense of accomplishment and pride in their work.

Key Takeaways

  • Establish a solid foundation by understanding different forms and structures of poetry
  • Make poetry accessible and relatable through interactive activities and workshops
  • Encourage experimentation and presentation to foster a sense of accomplishment in students

Understanding Poetry

To effectively teach poetry in Year Six, students must grasp the foundation and elements of a poem. By comprehending these aspects, students can better analyse and appreciate the beauty of poetry.

In order to understand poetry, students must first identify the theme and subject of the poem.

The theme represents the main idea or message conveyed in the poem, while the subject refers to the topic or situation being discussed. Encourage students to look for patterns, recurring words, and imagery to identify the theme and subject of a poem.

Another critical aspect of understanding poetry is recognising the story being told. Some poems narrate events, while others describe emotions or abstract concepts.

Provide examples of different poem structures, such as ballads, sonnets, and free verse, to demonstrate how poetry can convey a story.

Moreover, students should be familiarised with standard poetic devices, such as:

  • Alliteration: the repetition of the same consonant sounds.
  • Assonance: the repetition of vowel sounds.
  • Metaphor: a comparison between two unrelated things without using “like” or “as”.
  • Simile: a comparison between two things using “like” or “as”.
  • Imagery: the use of vivid, descriptive language to evoke sensory experiences.
  • Rhyme scheme: the pattern of rhyming sounds in a poem.

Expose students to a variety of classic and contemporary poems to help them understand these devices and their usage in poetry. Encourage students to analyse the poems and discuss how the poetic devices contribute to the overall meaning and effect of the poem.

In conclusion, understanding poetry is a crucial skill for Year Six students to develop. By guiding students through identifying themes, subjects, stories, and poetic devices, teachers can foster a deeper appreciation for poetry, inspiring students to create and enjoy poems of their own.

Types of Poetry

Exploring Rhymes

Rhymes are an essential element to many forms of poetry. In Year Six, students can begin to understand the different types of rhymes and their importance in conveying the meaning and structure of a poem. To effectively teach rhyme, focus on the following aspects:

  • End Rhymes: Words at the end of lines that share similar sounds, such as cat and hat. This is the most common type of rhyme.
  • Internal Rhymes: Rhyming words found within the same line, like light and night in the verse “In the light of the moonlit night“.
  • Slant Rhymes: Words with close but not exact sounds, such as blue and glue. This creates a subtle, more sophisticated rhyming effect.

Learning Limericks

A limerick is a fun and engaging poetic form that can capture the attention of Year Six students. It typically contains five lines with a specific metre and rhyme scheme, AABBA. Teach students the key features of a limerick:

  1. Lines: Five lines in total, with the first, second, and fifth lines being longer than the third and fourth.
  2. Rhyme Scheme: The first, second, and fifth lines end with words that rhyme with each other (A rhymes), while the third and fourth lines have their distinct rhyme (B rhymes).
  3. Metre: Limericks have a specific rhythm, with lines 1, 2, and 5 containing eight syllables, and lines 3 and 4 consisting of five syllables.

Encourage students to experiment with creating their limericks, choosing playful themes and focusing on the metre and rhyme scheme.

Discovering Onomatopoeias

Onomatopoeia refers to words that imitate the sounds they represent, such as buzz, bang, or sizzle. Introducing onomatopoeias to Year Six students can help them understand the vivid imagery and sensory elements of poetry. To teach onomatopoeia, consider the following methods:

  • Word Bank: Create a list of common onomatopoeic words for students to reference and utilise in their writing.
  • Sound Scavenger Hunt: Encourage students to identify examples of onomatopoeia in various poems or song lyrics.
  • Creative Writing: Have students experiment with incorporating onomatopoeias into their poems to enhance the sensory experience of the reader.

By building a solid foundation in rhymes, limericks, and onomatopoeias, Year Six students will have an arsenal of poetic tools to explore and create their poetry.

Teaching Methods for Poetry in Year 6

Year 6 is an important time for students to build a strong foundation in poetry, and teachers have several effective methods.

This section will discuss two key methods for integrating poetry into the Year 6 curriculum — using National Poetry Day and incorporating spelling into poetry lessons.

Using National Poetry Day

National Poetry Day, annually in the United Kingdom, provides a perfect opportunity for Year 6 teachers to engage their students with poetry.

Teachers can capitalise on the nationwide enthusiasm for poetry and encourage students to read, write, and perform their own poems in celebration of the event.

Some activities for Year 6 students on National Poetry Day include:

  • Reading aloud: Choose a variety of contemporary and classical poems, and encourage students to read them aloud to the class. They can take turns and discuss their feelings about each poem.
  • Poetry workshops: Organise workshops where students work together in small groups to write their own poems. They can then present their work to the rest of the class.
  • Film screenings: Show students short films based on poems or featuring poets discussing their work. This helps students appreciate the many different forms of poetry and better understand the creative process.

Incorporating Spelling into Poetry Lessons

Another effective way to teach poetry to Year 6 students is by incorporating spelling lessons into the process. Poetry lends itself to teaching spelling as many poems contain alliteration, rhyme, and other wordplay that relies on accurate spelling.

Below are a few suggestions for integrating spelling into poetry lessons:

  • Alliteration activities: Encourage students to create alliterative sentences or phrases based on a specific theme or topic. This helps them improve their spelling while also learning about alliteration in poetry. Example activity: Theme Alliterative phrase The beach Sally sold seashells by the seashore
  • Rhyme exercises: Ask students to identify words that rhyme with a given word and practice spelling these rhyming words correctly. This exercise helps them understand rhyme schemes in poetry and the importance of accurate spelling for maintaining the poetic structure.

By utilising National Poetry Day and integrating spelling lessons into the teaching of poetry, Year 6 teachers can create engaging, informative, and enjoyable learning experiences for their students.

These methods help students appreciate the art of poetry while also improving their literacy skills.

Supporting and Guiding Students in Poetry

When teaching poetry to Year Six students, it’s essential to provide support and advice that encourages their creativity and understanding of language.

This section will discuss practical ways to achieve this, utilising various teaching techniques and tools.

One effective method is to introduce students to a wide range of poetic forms and styles.

Please provide them with diverse examples from various time periods and authors. This will help them grasp the flexibility of poetry and inspire their imagination. You can introduce some popular forms such as:

  • Haiku: A three-line poem with a 5-7-5 syllable pattern
  • Sonnet: A 14-line poem, often with a specific rhyme scheme
  • Limerick: A humorous five-line poem with an AABBA rhyme scheme

Remember to discuss the primary components of poetry, such as rhythm, rhyme, and figurative language. Clarify each concept with examples and ensure that students understand their significance.

When encouraging students to write their own poems, provide them with accessible and engaging prompts. These prompts might include:

  1. Choose a photograph and describe it in poetic language.
  2. Write a poem about a memorable event or experience.
  3. Create a poem using words that all begin with the same letter.

Encouraging group work and collaboration can also be beneficial in supporting students’ learning. Divide the class into small groups and assign each a specific poetic form or topic.

Ask them to collaboratively create a poem, discussing each step and sharing ideas. This process fosters a deeper understanding of poetry and promotes a sharing mindset.

Giving constructive feedback is critical in guiding students towards improving their poetry writing. Highlight the effective aspects of their work, while offering suggestions for areas that could be refined or developed. For instance, you could focus on:

Positive RemarksConstructive Criticisms
Effective use of imageryImprove the consistent rhyme scheme
Strong rhythm throughoutIncorporate more varied vocabulary

Finally, incorporating technology and multimedia in your lessons can significantly enhance the learning experience.

Please encourage students to create digital portfolios containing their poems, images, or recordings of them reading aloud. This fosters a sense of ownership and pride in their work, while also offering a platform to share and reflect upon their progress.

Extending Knowledge and Skills in Poetry

To enhance students’ poetry learning experience in Year Six, it’s important to focus on extending their knowledge and skills. This can be achieved by encouraging research and providing opportunities to explore language features more deeply.

Encouraging Research

To foster a deeper understanding of poetry, students must explore poets and their works outside of the classroom.

Please encourage them to research different poets, their unique styles, and the historical context of their work. This can be done through a variety of means, such as:

  • Visiting local libraries
  • Utilising online resources such as Poetry Foundation or Poetry Archive
  • Participating in poetry events or workshops

Introduce students to various poets from various time periods and cultural backgrounds. This can be achieved through a table format:

PoetTime PeriodNotable Works
William BlakeLate 18th centurySongs of Innocence and Experience
Maya Angelou20th centuryI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
John AgardContemporaryHalf-Caste, Checking Out Me History

Moreover, students should be encouraged to seek inspiration from various literary movements, such as Romanticism, Modernism, or Postmodernism, to broaden their understanding of poetry’s evolution.

Language Exploration

Developing a strong grasp of language features is crucial for students’ skills in poetry.

Please encourage them to experiment with figurative language, exploring different forms such as metaphor, simile, hyperbole, and personification. They can also delve into sound devices like alliteration, onomatopoeia, and assonance to enhance their creative writing.

Additionally, provide opportunities for students to analyse poetic form and structure, including elements such as:

  1. Rhyme schemes (e.g., ABAB, AABB, ABCB)
  2. Types of stanzas (e.g., couplets, tercets, quatrains)
  3. Literary forms (e.g., sonnet, haiku, limerick)

In conclusion, extending knowledge and skills in poetry during Year Six involves fostering an environment of research and language exploration. These activities, coupled with a supportive learning atmosphere, will allow students to deepen their understanding of poetry and its many forms.

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






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