Foundation Phase

Simile and sensory poetry: Creative thinking becomes creative writing

Teachers often hear statements like “Creativity is the most important skill in the primary school years” or “ Creativity is now as important in education as literacy…”

The way we teach, or the way in which we were taught may no longer be appropriate in this day and age. Nobody can predict all of the skills that our learners may need in future. However, the one skill that will be around indefinitely is creative thinking.

No matter what field of work you may be in or may want to be in, having the ability to think creatively is advantageous and is regarded as a prime key skill required in the workplace.

Although it may not necessarily be an easy task to teach and learn creativity, I believe that what follows may help you to steer your learners in the right direction.

Writing poetry: This involves a lot of creative thinking skills. We need to encourage creative use of language, which can be achieved by writing poetry, since poetry is all about mental imaging. 

Against popular belief, poetry does not always need to involve rhyming.  Rhyming is an excellent way for young children to develop an awareness of language, phonic patterns, and rhythms. However, the problem is that children’s experience of poetry is so dominated by rhyme that when they actually get down to the writing process, they are distracted by the need to create rhyming couplets. 

One of the best ways to engage students in descriptive and imaginative language is through the use of the five senses, namely in a sensory poem. A sensory poem is an unrhymed poem that describes a feeling. Then this feeling is described by telling what it sounds, smells, tastes, looks, and feels like.

Similes – as neat as a pin, as proud as a peacock, cute as a button, etc. 

These are often predictable and we tend to hand out bonus points when our learners use them, but how creative are they actually? Why not get your learners to invent their own similes? This could be much more meaningful and I am sure a lot more enjoyable as well!  The process is imaginative and creative, and it will develop problem-solving skills over time. The incorporation of a task such as simile poetry into creative writing exercises will encourage the development of skills necessary for analogous thoughts which form one of the cornerstones of science and art. 

The Following are poetry-writing activities which will tick quite a few of the CAPS (Grade 2 & 3) boxes: 

  • Writing of a simple poem
  • Organising of information in a chart or table
  • Taking part in shared writing and making use of the writing process.  

In these activities, sensory and simile poetry are combined into a highly structured activity which is perfect for the learners’ first go at writing poetry. You will be amazed at the work that the poets in your class deliver!

Begin your mini lesson with the explanation of what poetry is.  Often, children are afraid of writing poetry – this is not necessary as there is a wide range of poetry types and there are many ways to go about it. 

Here are a few great titles to get you started:

  • Poet’s Tree by Shel Silverstein
  • Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne
  • Being Brave at Night y Edgar Guest
  • Chocolate Cake by Michael Rosen
  • Matilda by Hilaire Belloc

ACTIVITY 1 Writing a simile poem

WHOLE GROUP

Search for ideas within the whole class  group. Make a list of all the ideas.

Example:

A thunderstorm is….
As loud as a………………………….roaring lion
As frightening as a ……………………dinosaur
As spectacular as a…………………….. waterfall 
As  wonderful as a……………………… present
As black as a……………………………….. millipede

INDIVIDUALLY

A rainbow
As red as a  ………………………
As orange as a …………………
As yellow as a…………………..
As green as a …………………..
As blue as a …………………….
As purple as a …………………

Activity 2  A combined Sensory & Simile poem

WHOLE GROUP

First do a class poem – where the whole class gives ideas. Write all the ideas down. Eg. Winter.

Winter looks like the trees on the playground
Winter smells like the soup in mom’s kitchen
Winter sounds like a quiet night
Winter tastes like juicy oranges
Winter feels like a warm bath

INDIVIDUALLY

Now get the children to write their own spring poems individually.

Provide them with a template which will serve as the draft for the writing activity.

Eg. Spring

Spring looks like flowers
Spring smells like rain in the garden
Spring sounds like rain on the roof
Spring tastes like watermelon
Spring feels like a cool breeze

You can also use colours to write combined sensory simile poems:

Example: Green

Green feels like the grass in our garden
Green looks like my father’s favourite tie
Green smells like washing dishes
Green sounds like croaking frogs
Green tastes like yummy spinach!

Mari Buys, Speech Therapist

This article was originally published in Teacha! Magazine 1.2. To take a look at the latest edition, click here.

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