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 Do:
- 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
About its head.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- Help your child edit the poem, until she's happy with it. Remind her that editing is an important part of the writing process.
- 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.