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HANDOUT 1: Poetry Prompts

Adapted from Kenn Nesbitt's Poetry for Kids website.

Five Senses Poem

Think of an experience, such as crunching through the autumn leaves. Start each line of a five senses poem with one of the senses (but feel free to leave out a sense if it doesn't fit!).

  • I see . . .
  • I feel . . .
  • I taste . . .
  • I hear . . .
  • I smell . . .


Cinquains are five lines long. They have two syllables in the first line, four in the second, six in the third, eight in the fourth, and just two again in the last line. Cinquains do not need to rhyme, but you can include rhymes if you want to.


A haiku is an unrhymed three-line poem based on a traditional Japanese poetic form. Haiku are usually about nature or the seasons. The traditional pattern for haiku in English is to write the first and last lines with five syllables each, and the middle line with seven syllables.


A tanka poem is similar to haiku but has five lines, with five to seven syllables per line, and uses similes and metaphors. Like haiku, the subject is often nature or the seasons. Here's an example of a tanka poem:

Beautiful mountains [five syllables]

Rivers with cold, cold water. [seven syllables]

White cold snow on rocks [five syllables]

Trees over the place with frost [seven syllables]

White sparkly snow everywhere. [seven syllables]

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Last updated on Thursday, July 11, 2013.

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