Poetry Friday

It’s nearly the end of National Poetry Month. And finally! A Poetry Friday post! (I know you’ve been holding your breath.) Today I’m paying tribute to Barbara Park, whose Junie B. Jones books have been cracking us up all year. I know there’s a divide over Junie B. so I’d like to come out and say I am firmly in the “pro” camp — so much so that I just don’t get why there’s a divide in the first place. (I should probably come out here and say I’m pro Captain Underpants, too.) Junie B. has taught us plenty, like how your own Grandma’s house is best, how lots of things can qualify as pets and how you shouldn’t kick a cow watering can when it’s full. She (and her teacher, Mr. Scary) also taught us how write a five-line poem called a cinquain.

A cinquain is a PWR (poem with rules). Fortunately the rules are easy to follow. And if you break them, your poem still comes out okay. Cinquains are great for kids and for kids working with partners, which is what happens in Junie B. Jones, First Grader: Cheater Pants. That dumb bunny May’s poem is a bomb, but Junie B and her friends come up with a sweet little cinquain about friendship. Their poem (and Barbara Park’s) goes like this:
Chummy, happy.
Joking, gelling, sharing.
Four amigos all together.

Some cinquains use a syllable count, but here’s how write a cinquain Mr. Scary’s way, which is probably easier for younger kids:
First write your title. One word. Make it a noun.
For line two, use two words that describe line one.
For line three? Three action words.
Line four: Four words this time, an expression, phrase or sentence that reflects a feeling about line one.
Line five: One word again. Use that thesaurus in the back of your brain and think of another way to say line one.

Here are a couple we wrote as a family:

Music, strings.
Strumming, playing, humming
Music to my ears.

black pearls
rolling, eating, munching
Grandpa doesn’t like them
salty finger puppets (here we bent the rules and used three words instead of the one. Oh well.)

So that’s your writing prompt for today: write a cinquain. But don’t do it alone! Try it with a friend or with your family while you’re eating dinner. Holler if you come up with one you like.

Thanks to everyone who’s been boosting poetry awareness this month, and a special thanks to Anastasia Suen, today’s Poetry Friday host. You can find her at Picture Book of the Day. To see what else is up in the kidlitosphere for Poetry month, visit this site at kidlitosphere.org.

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8 Responses to Poetry Friday

  1. admin says:

    I wish I could say I made them myself, but it’s like brownie mix. WordPress!!! (You got a good one, I think.)

  2. Shelley says:

    I’m not crazy about Junie B but can’t resist seeing what picture will come up next to my comment! They are funny.

  3. admin says:

    I love it!!! And you know, I was going with an “s” on the end of cinquain but that could be wrong. Will have to google…

  4. Suzanne says:

    Yay for Junie B., and yay for the cinquain!! (What’s the plural? Cinquains? Cinquain? I wonder.) Thanks for the inspiration, Maddie. Here’s my cinquain, which is a salute to one of my absolute favoritest characters of all time, I tell you!!

    Sassy child
    Writing, joking, learning
    Grammar ain’t all THAT


  5. jama says:

    I’m with you — pro Junie B. and Captain Underpants. Love the salty finger puppets!

  6. Anamaria says:

    Okay, I am on the other side of the Junie B. Jones divide (although I would agree that Barbara Park is genius). But I do love cinquain poetry–I used to have my students write it in my elementary Spanish language classes, and they came up with great stuff! Will try this out with the kids tonight. Happy Poetry Friday!

  7. admin says:

    Thanks, that’s a great icebreaker! I’m going to send that link to the folks who run our scout troop!

  8. We often write cinquains in my children’s writing workshops. Here’s a form I found that I use as an ice-breaker at the beginning of a class, pairing off students to write a “Friendship Cinquain” about their new friend:

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