Poetry Activities – Key Stage 2 English
Poetry activities in key stage 2 (KS2) will introduce your child to different styles of poetry. Your child should be able to identify the different forms of poetry and the different literary devices that the authors use. This guide will explain the different forms of poetry and poetic devices that your children should be learning about, to help you support them at home.
Types of poems
Narrative poems are ones that tell a story, poetry activities in this key stage will encourage children to identify the theme and story of a poem. They tend to have several stanzas (or verses) and often they rhyme. The rhythm of the poem tends to stay the same throughout each of the stanzas unless the author is trying to create a new effect as part of the story.
In KS2, your child will learn how to write poems that follow strict rules. A limerick is a poem that has five lines. The first, second and fifth lines have to rhyme with each other and have the same number of syllables, usually 8 or 9. The third and fourth lines tend to have 5 or 6 syllables and must rhyme with each other. Most, but not all, limericks tell a silly story and begin with “there once was a…” or “there was a…”
Poetry activities can also be used to teach children about different cultures. For example, Haiku poems may introduce children to Japanese cultural ideas and values. Haiku poems are only three lines long. The first line has 5 syllables, the second line has 7 syllables and the third line has 5 syllables. Often, Haiku poems do not rhyme.
Your child will also learn about shape poems. These are poems that describe an object and are written in the shape of the object that is being described.
Like limericks, cinquain poems have five lines. However, the lines do not rhyme and each line has a set number of syllables. Line 1 has 2 syllables, line 2 has 4 syllables, line 3 has 6 syllables, line 4 has 8 syllables and line 5 has 2 syllables. Teachers may set children poetry activities that follow such strict rules in order to help children to practice writing in a specific style and selecting appropriate words and punctuation.
Children will learn how to write acrostic poems, these can be particularly challenging for some children. In an acrostic poem, the first letters of the line spell a particular word. For example, if your child is given the word “Shark”, they will have to write a 5 line poem, the first line should have a word beginning with “S” the second line should begin with a line beginning with “H” and so on.
Poetry activities in class will also teach your child about a range of poetic devices. They should be able to identify these, discuss the effect that they have and reproduce them in their own poems.
The majority of poems that your children would have read in key stage 1 (KS1) would have included rhyme. Rhyme is the most common poetic device. Some poems have the last word of every line rhyming whilst others may choose to rhyme alternate lines.
This is another highly common poetic device that children should be able to identify in KS2. Alliteration is when two or more consecutive words begin with the same sound, for example: “the slimy snake…”
Similes and Metaphors
Children often confuse similes and metaphors, so it is important that they are given lots of poetry activities to help them to learn the difference.
A simile describes something by comparing it to something else. Usually, the world “like” is use or the descriptive word is surrounded by “as…as”. For example: “It melted like ice-cream in the sun” or “It was as cold as ice”.
Metaphors on the other hand describe a word as if it were something else. There is no comparison. For example: “a sea of grief”. The word “sea” is being used to describe what the “grief” feels like.
Onomatopoeia is a word that names a sound but also sounds like the sound that it names. Words such as “hiss”, “buzz”, “boom” and “splat” are considered onomatopoeia.
Your child will learn to identify words that are associated with human feelings or behaviours. Often in poetry, the author gives an idea or an object a human quality. It is important for children to be able to identify these.
Poetry Activities: Resources
At this stage, children should be reading a wide range of poems to help them to identify the different styles and different poetic devices that can be used. Poetry activities and games could be carried out at home as well as at school, to help your child become interested in poetry. For example, you could give your child a poetry book to read to familiarise themselves with different poems. Additionally, you could use this free worksheet, aimed at children in year 5 and 6. It will help them practice identifying the different types of poems and poetic devices.