KidPoWriMo Day 14 ~ Iambic Pentameter

Get your iambs and feet ready. We are putting them together again to make pentameter.

That sounds like something that’s hard to do. It just sounds hard. Pentameter is easy.

And since we worked with iambs that were stressed on the even numbered  syllables the last time we discussed iambs, we will switch it this time.

We will put the stresses on the odd numbered syllables this time. And we will combine words with more than two syllables to create iambic phrases and sentences.

Poetic word of the day: “pentameter” (click here to see the definition on Merriam-Webster’s Word Central)

When you hear the word “pentameter”, does it make you think of a number? There is a famous government building that has a name that begins the same way.

If you know the name of this building, you probably can tell me what is different about it (see below)

Back to making pentameter. When we started with iambs, we put three feet together. We returned and put four together. Pentameter happens when we put five iambs (or feet) together.

QUICK MATH QUESTION: If an iamb contains two syllables, and we are putting five of them together, how many syllables will be in one line of pentameter? (see below for the answer)

I do not always write backwards when creating pentameter, I piece together words or phrases of 2, 3 or 4 syllables. Sometimes I start from the middle and add words before and after.

Here is a list of words that have 3 syllables. You can test big words using whisper-shout. First, whisper the first syllable, shout the second and whisper the third. Then reverse it. Shout the first, whisper the second and shout the third. Which way seems right? Test yourself using these words:










Depending on where you place a word in your line, it can support a right or left-foot iambic sentence. As I build my iambic lines, I keep track of the number of syllables as my line grows. For example (using the words above):

double-jointed acrobat (7)

He thinks I am a true believer (9)

cucumber salad (5)

an opened envelope (6)

my crazy rock fanatic (7)

helium baloon (5)

bright idea (4)

All of these phrases have alternating stressed and unstressed syllables.

The lines for today’s prompt will begin with a stressed syllable.

PROMPT: Make a word list of three syllable words. Put at least 20 words on your list. Underline or highlight the stressed syllables. Put each word into a phrase that is iambic (stressed syllables separated by unstressed syllables). Write a poem, based on your favorite or best practice phrase, that has 8 lines where each is written in iambic pentameter (10 syllables). You may rhyme if you like.

FOR PARENTS OF YOUNGER CHILDREN: Help your child(ren) make a word list of 3 syllable words. Take each word and ask them to put a word before each word or after. Write down those phrases and ask them to do it again. Count the syllables and check where the stresses are in each phrase using whisper-shout. Make at least one iambic pentameter line. With parents helping, I would not ask younger children to work on much more than one or two lines.


*The Pentagon is named for the geometric shape of the same name. It has 5 sides.

MATH QUESTION ANSWER: Two syllables per iamb times five iambs to make pentameter equals ten syllables per line of pentameter.  2 x 5 = 10











KidPoWriMo Day 2 ~ iamb that I am

KidPoWriMo has its own Community on Google+. If you have a gmail address, you already have access to Google+. For those who are on Facebook, you are invited to join the KidPoWriMo Facebook Group. If you want to post your #KidPoWriMo poems on-line, you now have more options. You are welcome to display your poems as comments below posts on this site.


Take off those shoes! Did you know you can write poems using feet?

Oh! But we won’t be using the kind of feet that get covered with socks!

When someone takes a walk in the park, they might tell you they went there “on foot”. When we measure 12 inches with a ruler, we call it a “foot”. But, the word “foot” is also a measurement we use to write poetry.

Poetic word of the day: “IAMB” (click here for the definition on

Here is what you need to know about IAMBs and FEET:

1. An iamb and a foot both have two syllables;

2. An iamb and a foot may contain one word of 2 syllables, or two words, each with 1 syllable.

3. In the iamb, one of the syllables is stressed and the other is unstressed.

Before you get stressed out about stressed syllables, think about your name. Do you know how many syllables are in your name?

Here is a list of two syllable names:

Michael   –   Emma   –   Abdul   –   Sophie   –   Kamal   –   Mya

Jose    –    Kendra    –    Gary    –    Marie    –    Tony    –    Michelle

If you have a two-syllable name, add it to the list.

Five  of the names on this list have the stress on the 2nd syllable and the remaining 7 have the stressed 1st syllable.

Here is an easy way to figure out which of the syllables is stressed in each word:


Say each name by whispering the first syllable and shouting the 2nd; then switch to shouting the first syllable and whispering the 2nd.

Do not say the names too slowly. Speak as if you are talking to friends who have these names.

When you shout a syllable, you are making it the stressed syllable. When you whisper, you are making that syllable the unstressed syllable.

Since you are going to say each name twice, stressing a different syllable each time, one way will seem strange, the other way will sound a lot like the way you are used to hearing the name. When the first syllable is stressed, let’s call it a “left foot”. When the 2nd syllable is stressed, we can call it a “right foot”.

PROMPT: Make a list of words and phrases that are iambs. Use the whisper-shout exercise to discover which syllable is stressed. Put the left feet on one side of your page and put the right feet on the other side. Write two lines that rhyme and that contain four feet each.

PARENTS OF YOUNGER CHILDREN: Use the whisper-shout exercise with words that are a part of your child(ren)’s daily experience. Put right-feet iambs  (with the 2nd syllable stressed) together and say them to a beat. Then try it with left-feet iambs (with the first syllable stressed). Try singing the words along with some instrumental music.

balLOON   –   DADdy   –   MOMmy   –   BATHtub   –   PUPpy

helLO   –    SUNshine    –    aBOVE    –    APple    –    goodBYE

Below, the names in the whisper-shout exercise appear with the stressed syllables in bold UPPERCASE letters. Did you figure out which syllables are stressed?

MIchael   –   EMma   –   AbDUL   –   SOphie   –   KaMAL   –   MYa

JoSE’    –    KENdra    –    GAry    –    MaRIE    –    TOny   –   MiCHELLE