Limericks for Kids

What You Need:

  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Dictionary, thesaurus
  • Samples of limericks

What You Do:

  1. Explain to your child that the first, second and fifth lines of a limerick usually rhyme with each other and contain 7 to 10 syllables. The third and fourth lines also rhyme with each other but are shorter, containing 5 to 7 syllables. In other words, the rhyme scheme for a limerick is AABBA.
  2. Try mentioning some other terms used to describe this type of poetry. For example, you will often find amphibrachic metrical feet which consist of one long or stressed syllable surrounded by two short syllables, as in: There was a|Young Lady|of Welling. Or, you might see the stringing together of anapestic feet which consists of two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable, as in Clement Moore’s The Night Before Christmas: “Twas the night|before Christ|mas and all|through the house.”
  3. Ask your child to think of a St. Patrick's Day theme or location to write about. If she needs ideas, try looking online for information about the holiday, or Irish people and places. The first line traditionally introduces these, as in: “There was an Old Man of Kilkenny.” Encourage your child to keep the location or last word of the first line simple and easy to rhyme with.
  4. Next, have your child think of the story or plot for the poem. What action is taking place? Have him construct three more lines, making sure to follow the rhyming scheme.
  5. The limerick can either close with a silly, unexpected twist or it can repeat the first line.
  6. Now she can glue the limerick onto card stock and give it to someone special, and hopefully with a good sense of humor, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.

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