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Everyone's a Poet

What kind of poems appeal to kids? Writer and teacher Matt Sharpe says students of all ages like this exercise. Give it a try with your kids!

1. Think of anyone you know who is older than your parents.

2. Close your eyes, and picture this person. Picture their hair, their skin. Do they have facial hair? Glasses? Makeup? What kind of skirt are they wearing? Shirt? Shoes?

3. Does this person smell like anything? Tobacco? Garlic?

4. Do you have any taste associations with this person? Did your grandpa make you oatmeal every morning?

5. Think of something you remember that person saying. Take one more step, and imagine in that moment what that person might be thinking.

6. Open your eyes. Draw a "word map." In the middle of a blank page, write the name of the person. Then draw a circle around the name. Then draw roads extending radially from the circle. At the end of each road, write down a characteristic of that person. Draw a cartoon bubble for speaking, and write in what you imagine that person would say. Then draw a second bubble for thought. There, write what that person might be thinking.

7. Think of a simile about the person. (Matt Sharpe gives you an example: His grandfather had a trim mustache. It was like a caterpillar crawling under his nose.)

8. Now, write a poem about the person. You don't have to make it rhyme.

This exercise is adapted from A Story in History: Writing Your Way into the American Experience by Margot Fortunato Galt.

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