Write a City Poem Activity

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Updated on Sep 9, 2011

By middle school, most children have some experience with cities. Help your child harness her feelings about the bright, hustle-bustle, booming city environment, by authoring her own city-centered poem. Whether she's visited the "city that never sleeps," the "Windy City," or the "Big Apple," she'll use her city knowledge to inspire a poetic composition.

What You Need:

  • Paper and pen or computer

What You Do:

  1. Have your child read the following poem by Langston Hughes called “The City.”
In the morning the city
Spreads its wings
Making a song
In stone that sings.
In the evening the city
Goes to bed
Hanging lights
About its head.
  1. Talk with your child about imagery used in this poem, for example: “making a song,” “stone that sings,” and “hanging lights about its head.” Notice how the poet makes the city sound like a living creature. He also provides images focused on what the city looks like in both daytime and nighttime.
  2. Have her brainstorm about a city that she knows well, either from having lived or visited there. Ask her to make a list of sights, sounds, scents, weather, and feelings that she associates with that city.
  3. Using her brainstormed list, she can start stringing together words and phrases that came up on his list, to write a poem about his city. Her poem may have just a few rhyming lines (like the one by Hughes), or it could have all rhyming lines, or no rhyming lines. There are very little rules here; she's the writer!
  4. Help your child edit the poem, until she's happy with it. Remind her that editing is an important part of the writing process.
  5. Now, she may wish to draw a picture or find a photograph of his chosen city to accompany the poem.

When she's all done, request that she read the poem aloud to you. Good poetry often has a musical sound that's just begging to be read aloud!

Beth Levin has an M.A. in Curriculum and Education from Columbia University Teachers College. She has written educational activities for Macmillan/McGraw-Hill and Renaissance Learning publishers. She has a substitute teaching credential for grades K-12 in Oregon, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.