April is National Poetry Month. Here in South Carolina, it’s also one of the most beautiful months of the year—the temperature is nearly perfect (no stifling heat and humidity yet!), the mosquito population is under control, and the worst of allergy season is behind us. Do my kids and I want to sit inside and write poetry? Not really.
Thankfully, writing and studying poetry doesn’t have to be an indoor activity. In fact, the great outdoors is the perfect place to practice writing a sensory poem.
A simple definition
A sensory poem describes a scene, an object, or an idea with vivid words that appeal to the five senses. It tells how the subject looks, feels, smells, tastes, and sounds.
A workable plan
• Plan an outing
Take advantage of a beautiful April day and head outside. Even if spring hasn’t quite sprung where you live yet, you and your children will probably benefit from some time out of the house. Head to a local park, walk around the block, or plan an outing to somewhere you haven’t yet explored. Be sure to block out enough time so that you and your children won’t feel rushed.
Before you go, take time to explain to your children the purpose of the outing. Explain what a sensory poem is and share some examples.
• Observe something special
While you are out, look for things that spark your child’s interest such as an unusual plant, an insect, or a special vista. The things that excite your child will make good subjects for his or her sensory poem. Use our sensory poem planning printable to help focus your child’s observation skills. You will also want to take pictures (or even a short video) of the subject for later use.
• Draft a sensory poem
After your child has finished planning his or her poem, it’s time to write. Sensory poems don’t have to stick to a certain meter; they don’t even have to rhyme. Encourage your child to refer to the completed planning sheet and describe how the subject sounded, smelled, looked, and felt. You might want to challenge an older child to try including some sound devices such as assonance, consonance, or onomatopoeia in the poem. Be sure to have your child illustrate the final copy of the poem with a drawing or a photograph.
Find out more about sensory poems in our English 3 Worktext.