Poems that take shape are such fun. There are many great poetry books that use concrete forms. Two of my favorites are A Poke in the I: A Collection of Concrete Poems and Doodle Dandies: Poems That Take Shape.
A Poke in the I, written by Paul Janeczko and illustrated by Chris Raschka, includes a wide range of poems that are cleverly shaped and written. Eskimo Pie and Popsicle are both poems in the shape of ice cream. Swan and Shadow looks exactly like the title is is a lovely piece of work. You can see it and read it at this concrete poem page.
Doodle Dandies, written by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Lisa Desimini, uses wordplay and surprising "movement" to make the topics come alive. Synchronized Swim Team uses the legs of upside-down swimmers to make its point, while Creep and Slither appears in the shape of a snake, until midpoint when the bulging word bull frog announces what's been eaten.
Both of these books are surprising and funny and deserve to be studied for the way the collaboration of shape and text makes the topics come alive.
I often encouraged my students to write shape poetry when we were drawing diagrams in class. It was a good way to help them learn more about the parts of plants, cells, electric circuits, and more. Generally they were given a blank outline to fill in with their poems. You can do this with your students. Using shape patterns, encourage them to use the outline of the shape to create their own concrete poems.
Concrete poems are fun to write and challenge children to think in different ways about the objects and events they see in their world. For additional ideas on writing concrete poetry, here are some resources you may find useful.
- Learn tricks of the trade from Paul Janeczko and write your own concrete poems.
- Write shape poems online.
- Write concrete Poetry related to the Wright Brothers historic flight.
- Learn more about graphic poetry.
- In the May 2005 issue of Book Links there is an article by John Grandits entitled Concrete Poetry and Visual Learning.