Planet Poems – teaching poetry to children
I think poetry (and teaching poetry) can be a powerful way for children to begin to understand themselves and the world around them. Just as we might read poetry to gain understanding, so we might read poetry to look at any part of the universe in a new and revealing way.
In my book, Astro Poetica, I try to explore the universe in a way that connects us with the stars and the formation of everything. It was a pretty big challenge but I loved what it taught me.
In a chapter at the end of the book, I write about how children might learn to write their own Astro Poetica. One of the exercises is to create a Planet Poem. This is something I’m using in schools as a way to think about space as well as learn about imagery, personification, similes and metaphors. Give it a try with your class and send me any poems (or pictures) which come from it.
My first example poem is this which I wrote by looking at my son (not sun):
Snow-haired planet you hide from the sun
Your blue-eyed seas are thirsty for hugs
The wind on your back
Echoes like laughter.
Preparing to write:
List exciting words which might describe a planet
Think of objects which also match those words (instead of round, use moon-like or eye).
Think of colours and list things which are that colour (instead of red, use rusty or pillar-box).
Think about who is writing the poem. Are you the planet talking about yourself, or are you looking at it through a telescope or from a spaceship?
Think of a similes to use. Is it like anything? Or is it as cold, or hot, as big, as small, as astounding or as thoughtful as anything? Be creative. Be crazy? Throw words together and see what happens.
Think of yourself – is your planet like you in any way? Does it creep around the sun? Does it hide shyly behind a moon? Is it covered in hot tempered volcanoes?
What language should you begin with? How about “My planet” or “I’m a” or “Take a look at my” or “See me, hanging around” or “Check out my”?
Then describe what it looks like.
What does your planet sound like or act like?
Tell us a secret fact about it.
My planet is rocky like a bowl of cornflakes,
It crashes past asteroids with a smile on its face
But sometimes it wishes it wasn’t so clumsy.
My planet is a bloodshot eye
Staring into the sun
It never blinks but sometimes
Looks the other way.