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Writing Prompt

Poetry Riddles: An Ekphrastic Writing Prompt

 

Fourth grade is an era of lip gloss and neon shoelaces, 

the year when two high fives finally signify your age, a time of social reorganization, of jostling for individuality. During my teaching residency at Corbett Elementary last Spring, I was looking for a way to funnel my fourth grade students’ intense thirst for knowledge and competitive spirits into creative energy on the page.  So I started hiding my lessons in guessing games. My writing groups turned into “teams.”  Presentations of creative work happened during “finals.” This ekphrastic poetry lesson came from that time when I finally learned to use my students' need to engage with each other as a constructive structure for writing.

I called the lesson Poetry Riddles, and began it with a short discussion of rhyme in poetry. I asked the class to think of places in the world where they could find poetry outside of books. To their ideas, I added hip hop and riddles, which can both involve rhyme, but don’t do so as a rule (I generally veer away from teaching rhyme since I think it can constrict younger writers and leave their work feeling more basic and sing-songy than intended). I then asked the students if they wanted to play a riddle game, to which they responded with emphatic affirmatives.

Arizona Board of Regents