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How to Write a Mother's Day Poem

Amanda Mole
April 30, 2013

8 tips for teaching a child how to create a great poem for mothers.

One of the hardest parts of Mother's Day is coming up with a poem to write on the inside of the card. You can only use "Roses are red" so many times!

This year create a Mother's Day poem that will never be forgotten with these eight tips from poetry experts Kristin Gecan, of the Poetry Foundation, and Elizabeth O'Brien, who teaches grammar online at the Grammar Revolution. They offer lots of great advice on how to help kids write poetry.

This is also a fun activity for nannies and babysitters to do with kids before Mother's Day -- plus it helps practice creativity and writing skills.

  1. Learn the Difference between Poetry and Prose
    Poetry, especially for young children, can be unexplored territory. When faced with the idea of writing a poem, kids may have a tendency to shrink back into the more comfortable area of writing a story. Explain how poetry is different from a story.

    "I love Richard Lederer's description of poems," O'Brien says: "Poems are life transmuted into diamonds, compact and indestructible."

    Poetry and prose can cover the same type of content, but they do it very differently, and poetry will usually incorporate unusual grammar or phrases. "Poetry is more condensed -- in meaning and in rhythm," she adds.

  2. Visit the Library
    Your local library is packed with poetry of all kinds, from Dr. Seuss to Emily Dickinson. Take your budding poet to the library and spend some time browsing poetry books.

    See if your library has any how-to books to help kids write poetry, such as Jo Ellen Moore's, "Writing Poetry with Children," or Jack Prelutsky's, "Pizza, Pigs, and Poetry: How to Write a Poem."

    Websites from organizations such as the Poetry Foundation are also excellent resources. "You can browse the website and find examples of different forms of poems, different subjects, writing tips, even a section specifically for children's poetry," Gecansays.

  3. Get Inspired By Others
    "It might help to look at other people's poems to get some inspiration," Gecan suggests. "May be you find a poem that someone else has written that reminds you of your mom, and you take it from there when you write your own."

    The variety of poetry is nearly as vast and extensive as the poets who write it, so examine other poems for ideas. For example, young children usually love words that rhyme. Older children, however, might choose to express themselves without rhyming words. Some poems are funny, while some are deeply emotional. Help your young poet determine what style he or she likes best.

    Celebrated poets who have written about their mothers include: Edgar Allen Poe, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Louis Stevenson and Christina Rossetti.

  4. Pick a Form
    There are loads of different poetry forms: haiku, sonnets, free verse, couplets, etc.

    "Deciding on a form for your poem might provide a jumping-off point," Gecan explains. "For example, maybe you want to write an acrostic [where the first letters of each line spell out a word]. You can use the word 'mom' or 'mother' to write an acrostic poem."

    Depending on the age of the child, you may want to stick to other simple forms of poetry like free verse or couplets. Older children may be able to write something a little more structured, such as a haiku, limerick or an ode. "Odes are a good choice for Mother's Day," Gecan says.

  5. Identify Obstacles
    There are plenty of reasons a child might struggle with writing a poem; to make the experience more enjoyable, try to detect in advance parts that might be challenging.

    "Children can struggle with the form of poetry," O'Brien says. "The principles can seem murky."

    Depending on the type of poem, it may have a clear rhythm and structure, or it may not. This can be confusing and overwhelming for some children. If this is the case, try sticking with an established form such as a haiku or limerick.

    "Children also struggle with thinking of what to write," says O'Brien. To help, suggest specific things they may want to talk about. "'My mom' can be a pretty intimidating subject to write a poem about; 'examples of how my mom makes me feel loved' is not so scary."

  6. Develop a Plan
    "Children -- and adults -- need to have a clear idea of what they are writing about and a clear idea of how they are expected to express their thoughts," O'Brien explains.

    And remember, this should be fun for kids. There are no wrong ideas of ways of doing things. "Whatever enters the child's mind should be scribbled on a paper," O'Brien says.

    Here's a step-by-step plan to simplify the writing process:

    • Brainstorm by getting thoughts written down
    • Create an outline where the child can organize different subjects into stanzas
    • Write a rough draft
    • Add finishing touches
  7. Avoid Clichés
    Overused phrases like, "Roses are red, violets are blue" are so common that they're almost meaningless. Children are naturally creative, so let them come up with their own phrases, no matter how crazy they may seem.

  8. Choose a Title Carefully
    Titles like "For Mom" and "To Mom" are simple and to the point, but a title can also function as an introduction to the poem and set the tone. Titles such as "When Mom Bakes Me Cookies" or "When Mom Reads a Story" are much more personal and meaningful.

So this year, remember that while flowers wilt, gold tarnishes and chocolates get eaten, a Mother's Day poem will last forever.

Want to take the poem a step further? In addition to writing it out on a card, make a video of the child reciting the poem. That way Mom will also have an extra special memory to treasure.

Amanda Molé is a freelance writer in Tampa, Fla. An elementary school teacher, animal lover and avid reader, she has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. Her work can be found here.

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