KidPoWriMo Day 9 ~ Four by four

Last Tuesday, we learned about iambs and feet in writing poetryUsing this, today we will write the first four lines of a poem. Each line will contain four iambs.

REVIEW OF DAY 2: One iamb is also known as a foot that has two syllables where one is stressed and the other is unstressed. I suggested that we name an iamb with the first syllable stressed a: “left-foot” and one with the stress in the 2nd syllable a “right-foot”. An iamb can be one two-syllable word or two one-syllable words.  For this exercise, stressed syllables will always be next to unstressed syllables. In other words, alternate the unstressed with stressed syllables.

The following example will use “right-feet” and the stressed syllables will be in UPPERCASE letters.

The 2nd line of a favorite children’s rhyme has three right-foot iambs:

the MOUSE ran UP the CLOCK” (from “Hickory, Dickory Dock”)

The line has six syllables (3 feet or iambs) where the even-numbered syllables are stressed (2nd, 4th & 6th).

Each line of the poem we will write today has an added iamb for a total of 4 iambs per line.

Poetic word of the day: “stanza” (click here to see the definition on Wikipedia)

A stanza is a part of a poem. It can contain as few as two, up to almost as many lines as you like. Similar to a paragraph, which can contain any number of sentences and is a section of a written work, a stanza is a section of a poem.

When putting your words together, feel free to use the whisper-shout exercise, from Day 2,  to make sure you have put the stresses in the right place.

Pick your topic and write it down. I am creating as I write this post. My topic is “snacks”. I will write my whole creative process. Let’s write together, shall we?

I am going to write backwards so I can put my topic word at the end of a line and because I know it will be easy to find other words that rhyme with it.


The word “HEALthy” is a “left-foot” iamb, but when I put a one syllable word after it, I can make it work in my line. But, because we are only using right-feet iambs, I will try something else. My strategy will be to use as many one-syllable words as I can.


I have two iambs and I put my topic word at the end of the line. Next, I will think of words to go in front of them:

i JUST can’t WAIT to GET my SNACK

Now, I have a line! I could use it to open my poem as the first line, or it could be at the end of my poem. Where would you put this line among the four? I will figure this out as I write the next lines.

my CHOICE is ONE that’s GOOD for ME

OK, a second line came quickly. Now, for a third. As I start my third lines, If I am going to use rhyme, I need to keep “ME” and “SNACK” in mind.





This is the order that the iambs came to my mind. When I put them together into a line, I get:


And I have rhymed SACK with SNACK. Knowing that I still need to rhyme something with ME, the word “AGREE” came to my mind and it is a right-foot iamb! Yay!


don’t YOU aGREE


I wrote a few options of phrases for my fourth line.

that’s WHAT i THINK do YOU aGREE


These almost work, but I am not happy with what I have written so far. Should I think of another word or phrase that rhymes with ME?

you SEE


the BEE


for FREE

with GLEE

(from “A”) to “Z”

OK, I will start my fourth line over again writing iambs that go with “for FREE”



each ONE

them ALL

them FROM


I have more iambs than I need, so I will put some together to make my fourth line:


Let me try another combination:


Now, I have four completed lines that I can put together into a stanza.

I just can’t wait to get my snack.

My choice is one that’s good for me.

I put some grapes inside my sack.

I picked them all myself for free.

I can reorganize the lines so that the line I wrote first is somewhere else in my stanza:

I put some grapes inside my sack.

I picked them all myself for free.

I just can’t wait to get my snack.

My choice is one that’s good for me.

I can put my lines together is many different ways. I can pick the one I like best and put it in my poem. When you read my lines, you can feel the rhythm as you say the stressed and unstressed syllables.

How did your stanza take shape? Notice in my creative process, shared above, some ideas seem good at first but later don’t work the way we thought they would. It is OK to take a couple of steps back and write a few more ideas to see which ones you like best.

Now do this again to make your 2nd stanza and at least a 3rd. Write as many as you like to finish your poem.

 FOR PARENTS WITH YOUNGER CHILDREN: Play with iambs made from one syllable words. Start with the example line “the MOUSE ran UP the CLOCK” and use it like a template. Take one of the stressed words out of the line and replace it with another word chosen by your child(ren).  Then pick any other word and replace it. Do this one word at a time until you have written a new original line. My example: “my PUP went OUT to PLAY”. Let the whole family help change the words. Write down each line, try to make pairs of lines rhyme. Finally, put them together.


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