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Shape Poems

Overview

Shape poems are a great way for children with a wide range of abilities to create a completed piece. There is no pressure to rhyme and the challenge of getting the words to fit the shape can help take some of the focus off writing. The poems can be short and there’s a clear format to follow with a good amount of artistic licence.

 

Intro

Shape poems (also called concrete poems) are fun to do as they make a great piece of art as well as a clever poem. There are plenty of examples online, so finding shape poems to look at is quick and easy. You could print out a blank shape for children to fill in, or they can draw their own. Shape poems range from a very simple shape with a few words to complex pictures cleverly created from meaningful prose. Start simple and if children enjoy it they can develop their skills and build up to more complex shape poems.

 

What you need

  • Examples of shape poems to look at
  • Guide below for how to do a shape poem (Steps 2 and 3)
  • List of ideas at the bottom of the page
  • Paper, pencil, rubber, and any other art materials you want to use

 

What to do

  • Step 1: Discuss what are shape poems and look at examples
  • Step 2: Guidance on how to create a shape poem
  • Step 3: Look at ideas and write own

 

Step 1: What are shape poems?

Shape poems are poems arranged into a shape related to what they are about. Rather than being written as normal lines, the poem makes a shape. Have a look online at some examples of shape poems. It’s much easier to understand what a shape poem is if you can look at one. One way to create a shape poem is to have an outline that you fit the words into, another way is to write the words so that they create the lines of the picture. There are lots of each type online.

 

Step 2: How to create a shape poem

There are different ways to create a shape poem. Look together at the two ways described below and children can then decide which to try. There are lots of examples easily found online of each type. Make sure to look at both types when you read about them.

Outline shape poem
One way of getting your poem to be the shape you want, or to plan how it will make that shape, is to draw or print an outline of the shape (such as a ball, cloud or bird) and then write your poem inside it to fit the shape. Use a pencil to draw the outline and then rub it out to leave just the poem in the right shape or go over the outline in a pen if you want to keep it. You could also colour it in if you like.

Drawing shape poem
Another type of shape poem is where the words of the poem draw the shape. To create this type of shape poem, draw a simple picture using faint lines, then write your poem along the lines so that it creates the shape. Rub out the guide lines when you’re finished. Don’t forget to go over your words in pen!

 

Step 3: Write a shape poem

Children think of a thing or subject they want to write about and a simple shape that is related to it. They need to think of a shape that has a recognisable and simple outline or it will be too difficult to get the poem to be that shape. They don’t need to worry about making it rhyme (although it can rhyme if they want).
They can simply fit words related to the subject of the poem into the shape, write phrases, or create a longer poem to fit the shape or follow the lines.

Look together at the example and ideas below before children choose one of the ideas, or their own idea, and try making a shape poem.

 

Example

Let’s take the example of a rain poem in the shape of a raindrop.

A basic option is to make the poem up with different words to describe the rain, like: splash, drip, pour, soak. These words can be arranged into the shape of the raindrop.

Another option is to write some descriptive lines such as:
The rain splashes down, soaking my hair, drenching my clothes, making puddles all around.
You can then write these lines into the raindrop shape.

A third option is to write a longer poem about rain:

Sometimes you come as tiny specks of water hanging in the sky, tickling my face, nestling in my hair,
Sometimes you are big fat lumps of wet flowing like a river down my back, freezing my skin and bones,
Sometimes you form relentless sheets of water that fill the air, like bedsheets pegged out on a washing line,
And sometimes you are tiny missiles, throwing yourself in all directions, hurtling at everything like a troop of crazed wasps!

This can be arranged into the shape of a large raindrop, or written following the line of a raindrop. It would work well for each line to make up the outline of a separate raindrop to create a scene of rain falling.

 

Ideas to try:

A poem about home in the shape of a house
A poem about walking or a journey in the shape of a foot
A poem about a party in the shape of a balloon
A poem about love in the shape of a heart
A poem about nature in the shape of a leaf or tree
A poem about ideas in the shape of a light bulb
A poem about fruit or food in the shape of an apple or banana
A poem about snails where the lines create the swirl of the snail’s shell
A poem about space in the shape of a star or UFO