World of Words: A homophonic poetry activity for all ages

Jillian AndrewsIf you enjoyed the activities at our Young at Art Festival, or if you weren't able to make it, below are the directions to one of the poem-making activities led by UA student and teaching artist Jillian Andrews. Enjoy!


  • Blank paper
  • Markers
  • Scissors
  • Poems in various languages
  • English translation of each poem


  • Print 4-5 poems in various languages.  Unfamiliar languages are best, in order to make sure the translation is completely based on sound, and not on previous knowledge of the language
  • Set out the materials and an example of your own "postcard poem"
  • You can choose to print world maps to have the kids guess where in the world their poem was written.


  • Ask children to choose any of the foreign language poems, without telling them what languages the poems are in.
  • Explain to them that a homophonic translation is a sound translation, and that they just need to write words in English that sound like the foreign language words that they are reading.
  • Offer to read the poem out loud so the kids can hear the foreign language words.
  • One on side of their paper, the kids write their homophonic translation of the poem.
  • You can choose to read the English translation afterwards, to see if the poems match in any way.
  • On the other side, ask them to draw a picture of the place where they think this poem was written.
  • Their postcard poem is done and they can "mail it" to whoever they want!
Created on: 
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Arizona Board of Regents