Does your student have to write a poem but can’t get started? Here’s a simple method for writing a stunning Cinquain, a descriptive poem of only five lines.
As a Primary School teacher in the past, I found it very difficult to coax some children, especially “hands-on” or “active, outdoor” types, into writing poetry. If this sounds like you and your child, a Cinquain is a great place to start.
A Cinquain is a poem of five lines with a set structure. It has no rhyming words or rhythm pattern to worry about and no punctuation at the end of lines. Here’s how to go about it in 4 – 5 steps.
- Identify a familiar and exciting topic, especially one which involves action of some kind, e. g. a pet, a sport, an activity or a person. You need just one noun for the first line and another noun, which means the same thing, for the fifth line. Use capital letters for these. For an example I chose “Dragster” and “Racer,” but you could choose “Horse” and “Stallion,” or “Athlete” and “Champion.”
- Write down as many adjectives as you can which describe the noun. Choose two of these which create a picture in your mind and also make a pleasant sound together when spoken out loud. Write these on the second line beginning with a capital letter and place a comma between the two adjectives. In my example I chose “Streamlined, powerful.” Other adjectives I may have chosen are “sleek, noisy, shiny, long or vibrant.”
- List as many action verbs as you can think of which relate to your topic. These words (verbs) must all end with “ing.” Choose three of these which create a picture in your mind and also make a pleasant sound together when spoken out loud. Write these on the third line beginning with a capital letter and place a comma between each verb. In my example I chose “Speeding, smoking, rocketing.” I may have chosen “accelerating, zooming or fuming.”
- Think of a short phrase, a group of words that is not a sentence, usually of about seven syllables, that tells about the topic. In my example “Amazing performance machine,” was my choice. If writing about a kitten you might write “Bundle of mischief and fun.”
- Find a picture or draw one to illustrate your Cinquain (optional but looks more professional). Type or neatly write up your final copy and you’ve finished!
To summarise, the structure of a Cinquain is as follows:
Line 1. One word, title, a noun
Line 2. Two adjectives, a comma in between them
Line 3. Three verbs ending in “ing” with commas in between them
Line 4. A phrase about the subject
Line 5. A synonym for the title, a noun
I have a challenge for you, now you know how to write a Cinquain, have a go at writing one yourself.