Epic poems were a popular form of literature in the ancient world. This type of story, in which the main character goes on a long journey and endures many tests and trials, is still used today. The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Star Wars, and Harry Potter are all epic journeys—and kids and adults of all ages are familiar with them.
This activity will help your child write his very own epic poem. Don't let him be scared off by the idea that most epics were in the form of poetry—his composition need not rhyme! As long as he focuses on creating an engaging and adventurous story, the epic poem is sure to be a winner!
What You Do:
- Choose an epic hero. He can either choose himself, a family member, or a god or goddess from ancient history.
- His epic hero must be charged with a task. He can guard something, learn something, or search for something as he endures his epic journey, but there should be some purpose to his adventure.
- Decide who your hero’s helpers will be. They are usually mythical creatures, with special powers, but the decision is up to him. He should his use his imagination to come up with a unique plot and characters.
- Ask him to outline his epic poem according to the three phases: exile, journey, and return home. Brainstorm ideas about why your epic hero needs to leave home, what he is going to encounter along the journey, and how he will successfully complete the quest.
- Now it's time for him to begin writing his epic! The structure, length, and style are entirely up to him.
- When he's all done, invite him to decorate the borders of the epic poem with drawings of the characters or setting.
Tips for Parents: Writing an epic story or poem can be especially helpful for kids who might be experiencing a hard time or facing a move to a new city or state. You can encourage your child to make the poem an allegory for adolescence or middle school. Children experiencing challenges may find hope or an optimistic outlook in creating a positive resolution to the epic hero’s story.
Daniella K. Garran is a seventh grade social studies teacher who lives on Cape Cod. She has published several articles about project-based learning. She spends summers working as an assistant director of a camp on the Cape.